April 4, 2012 marks the date when Facebook’s Timeline features will kick in for those who have not voluntarily made the change. While this date may pass by unceremoniously for some, it will mark a dramatic change in how to best use Facebook for marketing efforts. Here are four changes you should take note of:
1. Pinning your posts:
How it works: Pinned posts are page posts that you have chosen to display prominently at the top of your page. Pinned posts will remain there for 7 days, and after that they will return to the date they were posted in your timeline. Here’s a quick video on how to pin a post:
Why you should care: Now you can ensure content that positions you or your business is always what a visitor will see first. Although you might see all your posts as invaluable, you can now ensure the more trivial will not burry your gems.
2. Public post capability
How it works: Previously all Facebook posts were made to your “friends.” Now you have the option of posting to different groups such as friends, close friends, other groups you may create, or to the public. When you post to the public, you content becomes viewable to anyone on the internet and it is searchable. Managed well, this represents an opportunity for some. Here’s a video on how to change who views your posts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDyVCGC_vvk
Why you should care: Posting publically presents an opportunity to position yourself as an expert or authority. Public posts become content that Google and other search engines catalogue and rank. This is an invaluable tool for branding and increasing awareness.
How it works: All posts from the past and going forward will now be indexed by year and month. Timeline also allows you to go back to old posts and highlight or hide them.
Why you should care: Timeline presents a marketing opportunity for you or your brand to tell your story. You can “go back in time” and post milestones that help give your brand a distinct identity.
4. Customized profile and cover banner photo
How it works: Previously Facebook users had a single profile photo. Now you will have both a profile photo and a cover banner photo that spans the entire top visual space of the page just like a website.
Why you should care: The cover banner image presents a branding and positioning opportunity. It can demonstrate your area of expertise, highlight what you care about, and in general create a more personal connection.
You should also note the changes to your privacy settings after the April 4 update. By default your past posts will have gone to timeline and they will be public, unless you change the settings. The good news is you can do a blanket change to make them all viewable to only friends again if you wish, make that your default going forward, or you can selectively decide which ones to delete or keep private. You can also preview what information is public versus viewable by friends. Here is a good video link to show you how to do all that:
Bottom line? The changes that Facebook has made are significant. Managed well, they represent a significant opportunity.