New Facebook Page Timeline: The 7 Essential Things You Need To Know

This is a guest post by Gregory Ciotti from Sparring Mind, the behavioral psychology blog. More about him at the bottom of the post. 

The new Facebook timeline has been creating quite a stir recently, and all the more so ever since Facebook started rolling out the previews for the new timeline for fan pages.

This will inevitably lead to a ton of posts on the subject, but in true social media fashion, too much time is going to be spent on the details rather than discussing what matters.

Luckily, here on the Buffer blog we’re all about cutting through the fluff, so today I want to talk about the 7 major elements & things you need to know in order to rock the new timeline layout for pages.

1.) The Timeline Cover Photo

One of the biggest aesthetic changes coming to the new page layout is obviously the Timeline Cover Photo.

The first thing you need to know is that the photo is 850 x 315 pixels in dimension.

That means if you’re going to use a timeline photo, it should be around that size.

It also means that these photos are HUGE on page, and take up some major screen real-estate:

Best to make it pretty.

This can be intimidating to do for some: many folks don’t want to hire a graphic designer for a Facebook photo, and many aren’t familiar with Photoshop themselves.

Luckily, I’ve got a simple solution for you.

Over on GraphicRiver, they have some excellent timeline photos that are pre-made and ready to be customized (in the correct dimensions), all you have to do is edit the text and photos in Photoshop, and you’re ready to go.

They also only cost around $2-3 so you can get this done on a tight budget.

Check out the Facebook Cover Photo selection on GraphicRiver here.

A lot of these were made for personal use, but many can be used for pages as well.

Speaking of that, there’s some important things about these photos that you need to know…

2.) Facebook Timeline Cover Photo Rules & Regulations

Yes, Facebook is trying to enforce quite a few rules with these photos.

This is going to be hugely important in your Facebook marketing efforts, because the rules are pretty strict (and very anti-promotional).

Here’s a rundown of the important ones regarding Timeline Cover Photos…

Timeline Cover photos may NOT contain:

  1. Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  2. Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  3. References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  4. Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

The “banning” of calls to action is a specifically important one for folks building their pages and marketing on Facebook.

It’s also important to keep this in mind when remembering the next important change…

3.) No More Facebook Landing Pages

That’s right, Facebook landing pages are dead, or, at least to a certain extent they are…

What’s really going on is that pages can no longer display one of their custom applications as their default landing tab that non-fans first see when they visit.

They can still have these custom applications, but they now cannot be set as the default; the timeline will always be the default page for all users.

This was likely done to stop the use of the “Like Gate”, or hiding something people wanted behind the landing page, forcing people to “like” something when they wanted access.

I’ve used this in the past for my electronic music blog, because I was able to give something away for free and get a like in return, and this process in itself was formerly a major part of getting “on-site” likes for Facebook pages.

Some have called this an essential part of landing pages, others have decried it as a shady tactic with no long term engagement benefits.

What matters to me is that you know it is no longer available.

If you were using the landing page to highlight important content, you are in luck though, thanks to the next essential feature…

4.) Pages Can “Pin” Posts for 7 Days

Pages now have the option to “pin” posts to the top of their timeline for up to 7 days, highlighting the more important content you’ve posted and allowing it to garner more exposure.

This is done by simply selecting “edit” on a piece of content from your page, and then selecting “pin to top”.

A “pinned” post will have small ribbon in the right hand corner to signify it as such.

This could be very useful for big brand announcements, for new projects, and for pieces of content that you’ve published that are starting to pick up speed.

It can also be used to “put your best foot forward”, pinning the best content that you’ve posted during the week.

5.) Changes To the “About” Section

The “About” section has always been available for Facebook pages, but now it’s getting featured more prominently.

Now at the top of your timeline, there are two different versions available so you may need to update soon.

These versions depend on if your business is listed as having a physical location or not having a physical location.

I’ve included some screenshots from AllFacebook that reflect the two types.

Physical Location:

 No Physical Location:

Most websites and personal brands will obviously be falling under the latter, but if your business has been listed as having a location (such as if you’ve listed an office space), you will be using the former type.

6.) Application Boxes Featured More Prominently

Applications that were previously tabs on your sidebar are now featured at the top of the timeline as well.

You are able to choose in which order they appear in. Keep in mind which ones are important when placing them on your page for all to see.

You’re old landing page will also live here: you could feature it at the top, but since it isn’t the first thing new visitors are seeing, it will be drastically less effective and less important.

If you have more than four applications, a drop down menu is needed for the rest; remember that when choosing the order, only the first 3-4 will make the “homepage” for you brand’s page.

7.) Your Page Can Create “Milestones”, Telling Your Story

Your page now allows you to post about past events as “milestones”, helping you create a compelling storyline for your brand.

You can access this from where you would normally post an update, and utilizing this feature will help you make the most of the new timeline format (milestones also get attention as they allow for big photo uploads).

The first milestone you obviously have to create is the “Founded” milestone, or when your business/group/etc was founded, after that, you can post subsequent milestones normally.

Over To You…

This is where I would normally wrap up the post, but since this post is a wrap up in itself, I’d rather ask you about your opinion.

What do you think of the new timeline for Fan Pages?

Do you like them?

Will the timeline work for pages, or should it have stayed on personal profiles?

What are the strengths of these new timeline style pages? What are the weaknesses?

See you in the comments, and thanks for reading!

About the Author: Gregory Ciotti is the content strategist for Help Scout, the invisible email support software for startups and small
Gregory Ciotti business owners.

Get more data-driven content from Greg by checking out our free resource on providing good customer service for all of your customers (and why it matters for your business).

  • Michael Shepherd

    Thanks for the informative article.  I always need someone to translate the Facebook terminology.

    • Ravishukle

      Nice article theres a few points missing on there such as facebooks ability now private message brands and favourite content. Anyone wants any further help can ask me anytime on my fanpage

  • Solutions

    What if you don’t want a timeline photo? will everything just …move up? that’s a lot of screen!

  • Mandy Kilinskis

    Great non-fluff roundup, Greg! 

    There are things about Timeline for brand pages that I love, and things that I’m not a big fan of. 

    I love cover photos – I think they are a great way to introduce your brand to the Facebook community and allow for some top-notch customization. Pictures say a thousand words, but with one as big as the cover photo, it’s probably more like one hundred thousand.

    Pinning posts is also fantastic for the reasons you pointed out. I also think that creating milestones is wonderful, because then you get a mini-history right on your Timeline. It’s more visual than say, Wikipedia, so I feel like fans will actually browse through it. (Though too bad for any company/business/school/monument/brand founded before 1800. Right now, Timeline only goes back to 1800!)

    I think the glaring weakness is that outside comments are (generally) all smushed together in a little digest. Clearly I can’t change that, but it looks like there is less engagement on your page. Timeline makes it even more “Here’s what my brand does!” and less “Here’s why I love your brand!”

    But as always, we will adapt to the Facebook changes. :)

  • Annie

    Thank you. This clarified the new time line for me and gave me some ideas about how to design with it.  

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the heads up Greg.  Totally need to rethink my approach to my page.  Gonna need to tinker with it a bit.

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  • Dissertation Tutors

    Some great features introduced, I think the “pin to top” feature is essential one as you can tell your followers about your important announcements or activities.

  • Video Marketing

    Customize application tabs are really going to make your business page more attractive and interesting. You can use important apps on top quite easily.

  • Delwar Jahan

    I am kinda worried that I will lost my landing pages. But the header banner will look better in a second thought.

  • Dr Deb

    How do pick the order of the app’s? Don’t see how yet :) Thanks!

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  • Brian

    I guess you can pin a post used as a quasi-landing page for seven days. Delete it after copying the post. Post it again. Pin it again. Sounds difficult. I hate they stopped the landing pages. I just updated mine yesterday and pubished my new timeline today.

  • eandtsmom

    I like the Timeline format visually, but hate the challenges it poses for businesses. What I’d like to see is the ability for pins to last longer than 7 days (a month perhaps?). Even better than that would be if the business were able to optionally choose apps to display in the timeline as permanent right-side entries. If the Timeline is a two-column format, let the business be in control of what goes in one of the columns. It’s our business, our brand. By wrestling control of what our page displays away from the admins, I think Facebook is giving frustrated marketers more reason to explore other up-and-coming solutions. (Dare I say, like Google+ and Pinterest?)

  • Laurie McConnell

    This is where businesses going to Facebook purely for capturing revenue or time on the public stage in this venue are going to pay dearly for it. The whole Timeline concept forces business owners to think about the ‘personality’ of their business. How it operates and engages socially in the community around it, with its customers, and making contact with potential customers. In the community I live in, the Sunshine Coast of BC, I’ve seen the pattern: business owners who are already well integrated into the community and include the concept of ‘being of service’ to their customers do very well on Facebook, regardless of whether they manage their presence themselves or through social media program provider. The businesses grabbing at straws for new ways to bring in revenue… well, they go on to Facebook and those who engage feel like wallets rather than people, and we all know how that goes. I think Timeline is going to really force businesses to be on FB for the right reasons and to really deliver, which is a very good thing.

  • Lorrie Hess

    Thanks.  I needed some guidance before I even looked at starting this new project!

  • Guest

    Can you list your services on the cover photo/

  • Dale Richards DuBois

    My question to you is, how do we keep our privacy settings? Seems like every moment I make on someones post is advertised for everybody to see. It wasn’t like this with my old facebook.

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  • Adam Smith

    I will start to use that feature on Facebook timeline as soon as it comes up. , great post keep it up ! 😉

  • Micheal Marke

    A wonderful post that really breaks down how to start a Facebook page for your business. And once that page is built, update, update, update with interesting and relevant content. Keep people coming back for more. We deal with Facebook Pages Designing this information is quite informative and interesting.