Thursday, March 1, 2012

Facebook Fan Pages Overhauled: What does this mean for brands?

By now, most brands and brand marketers understand the power of Facebook, and that the hub of their Facebook marketing strategy resides on Fan Pages. The Pages are where businesses build connections with people. They are where brands deliver relevant content, connect with customers and brand devotees, announce new product offerings and poll their fans to gather valuable customer insights.

Facebook extols the virtues of their redesigned Pages in three distinct ways.
Pages allow brands to:

  1. Express brand identity with features like cover photo and Page timeline.

  2. Reach and engage brand audience on the web and on mobile.

  3. Respond to people in a quick, more personal way.



That’s all well and good and we would love nothing more than to get into a deep discussion about how these changes may alter the Facebook component of your social/digital strategy, but let’s cut to the chase. The new Pages are available now, but everyone will be forced to adopt the new Page by March 30, 2012 so it’s important to understand what you need to do tactically.

What is the impact of the new Pages on day to day operations?

  • Cover Photo and Profile Picture


The first thing to understand is that the Cover Photo and Profile Picture are two completely different things serving different purposes. The Profile Picture is the image that is displayed as a thumbnail in news feed stories, ads, sponsored stories and comments. Choose an image that is branded, easily identifiable and looks good at both 180x180 pixels and 32x32 pixels.

The Cover Photo is the top image visible on your Page and will establish the experience on your Page. The photo can be up to 850x315 pixels. Size, however, is not the only limitation. There can be no call to action indicated (this includes “Like us” or “Share” or “Sale!”, “25% off now”), nor contact information (information like url, email, phone, etc belong in the “About” section).



 

  • Landing or Welcome tabs


The ability to direct a new visitor to a welcome tab is gone. It’s really that simple. Everyone who visits your page will see the Timeline and your Cover Photo. The key is now to use Timeline to tell a compelling story and utilize creative to capture the attention then use relevant and engaging content to keep people coming back. Apps will continue to exist and we will talk about those a little later in this post.

  • Pinning Posts


Much like the new Twitter brand pages, you have the ability to pin Wall posts to the top of your Timeline. Stories will have a star icon when you hover over them. Click on that star to widen the post and click the pencil icon to pin it to the top, hide or delete. This makes calls to action, custom apps or featured content able to garner more attention.



 

  • Historical Timeline


Just like your personal Timeline, you now have the ability to capture the history of the brand on Facebook. Utilizing Timeline, you can upload archival photos, feature milestones of the brand and showcase the brand narrative. Starbucks, for example, has photos of their first store. Ben & Jerry’s includes early advertisements and English soccer powerhouse Manchester United highlights photo albums of each trophy ceremony in club history; a very cool way to educate the public on the history of the brand. While this will likely require a content strategy and some creative development many brands have a compendium of assets in their archives. Timeline gives those brands a great way to utilize those assets.



 

  • Apps, Photos, Videos, Likes


A series of panels housing custom apps, photo albums, videos, Pages your Page like and the People who Like your page appears directly under the Cover Photo and above the Timeline. Here is where you can highlight your custom apps, and you have the ability to choose the order of everything other than Photos (which will always be first), but you only have a total of 12 panels so choose wisely.

  • Administration and Messaging


All activity is now managed from the Administrator Panel. The activity log is where you review all of your posts and stories as well as where you access Insights and are notified when people post to your Timeline or message you directly. Oh yeah, that’s new also. All people can now send private messages to Pages, which should make taking customer service or other sensitive matters offline. In addition to the Administrator Panel, brands can finally change the name of the Fan Page! If you happened to misspell your brand name or the brand name has changed, you can request a change.

What is the big picture?

Ultimately, the Fan Page is all about engagement. So how do brands increase engagement?

Be interesting. Use your creative. Yes, it’s important to have a variety of types of posts, but the numbers don’t lie. Using visuals in Wall posts generate twice the engagement of a text-only post (on average). This will likely only increase with Timeline and Premium on Facebook (more on that later). Timeline’s tile format means that images are larger and the ability to engage with photos is much improved. Yes, there will be more creative resources required, but the flexibility to create an on-brand experience is much improved and will create lasting relationships with consumers.

Your Facebook content strategy will likely require evaluation. How will you ensure that your content is visually engaging? How does the brand narrative flow on the new Timeline? When posting, what milestones will you feature? Which posts should be pinned to the top? How will you work with your colleagues in various business groups to ensure that calls to action and featured campaigns receive the attention they deserve? A well-defined editorial calendar in coordination with Facebook Insights, Premium on Facebook and your overall digital dashboards will go a long way to assist you in making your Facebook Page a strong performer in your digital mix.
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