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 a content marketing manager at Help Scout, the help desk software built fornice guys finish last - Gregory Ciotti companies who insist on delivering an exceptional customer experience.

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Written by Gregory Ciotti

Gregory Ciotti is a content marketing manager at Help Scout, the customer support software for businesses who insist on delivering a delightful experience. Get more from Greg on the Help Scout blog.