“Welcome to your Page Preview” is a frightening heading for any marketer, especially on a platform like Facebook that is so limited in design. But today, Facebook Page owners across the country are seeing the innovations that came to personal profiles move on up to the east side of business pages. Today, you can see your Facebook page with the Timeline Layout.
At the top-right of the page, a button for the Admin Panel looms. When opened, the panel contains a one-click view of a few major metrics for checking up on the page. Notifications, new likes, personal messages, and insights are all grouped together, with menus at the top to consolidate sharing, ad creation, and page and user management. This section vastly improves the page owner’s experience on the site, as it reduces the amount of places to look for useful data.
Cover, Tab Navigation, and Wall Control
Much like personal profile pages, the new timeline starts you without the main design point of the timeline: the cover photo. In addition, it starts you with a number of tabs that may not be the optimal ones for clickthrough, and your custom tabs have transferred their tiny icons to the tab window. This leaves a business or marketer a lot of work to organize and design their page. However, this work will most likely pay off with higher CTRs on the tabs, which are now prominent.
These tabs are completely mobile except for Photos, which is always first, though through a relatively cumbersome “swap position with” interface. Each custom tab can be further customized in appearance by opening the tabs out and clicking “Edit Settings,” letting you change the tab title, which maxes out at 17 characters, and the image, which should ideally be in a 3:2 pixel ratio. This layout is a compromise, giving some flexibility while still keeping a uniform appearance, and removes any incentive to have too many tabs on the page, hopefully controlling low CTR to tabs.
Tabs have changed their URL structure as well, moving from a ?sk=app_[id] parameter format to a simpler /app_[id] URL. This helps with both SEO optimization of Facebook tabs and linking, as you can now more easily add tracking parameters for analytics tracking of your pages. It seems that the old URLs will lead to the same page without redirection or canonicalization, which seems at cross-purposes to the Tab URL simplification.
The menu marked “Highlights” adds a parameter of ?filter=, which sorts the wall posts for better management. Likely, this is the way to set the default behavior of the Facebook Page, though Highlights seems to be the ideal setting for most set-and-forget pages, as it will draw from all posts by friends about the page combined with posts by the page with high Edgerank. Furthermore, this is the only way to show both user-generated and business-created posts at the same times.
To the Window, to the Wall!
The Timeline for Pages Wall is a fascinating glimpse into the depth of Facebook’s association technology. The first standout is taking cues from the “People are talking about” Newsfeed units. This scours Facebook for friends who are talking about, but not necessarily tagging, your brand. This opens up a Pandora’s box of marketing woes, but seems user-centric. These aren’t posted to the page, and only show your friends’ posts; if your friends have a bad experience somewhere, it won’t tarnish the brand for others, but show you that you might not have as much fun there.
Other Wall units follow the lead of personal profiles: Milestones, which demark historical events for the business, enhanced Photos posts, and combined posts are at the core of the Wall redesign. One of the most intriguing choices by the designers is to consolidate other views of the wall into a “box”.
These likely low-EdgeRank posts are another compromise for a marketer. Comment spam and other undesirable posts might get combined and minimized into this box, leaving posts with higher algorithmic value to the visitor in more prominent places. The visitor may skip these posts when viewing the page; however they can be moderated from the “See All” link.
New Facebook Insights
Insights gets a minor facelift, becoming more report-like and visually appealing. The first glimpse is from the “Likes” Tab, prominent in the default tab setup. It provides an at-a-glance look at the vitality of the Facebook Page. Likes and People Talking About This are not new, but aggregating check-in statistics under “Most Visited Week” and “Largest Party” and photo tagging is a great step towards measuring the ROI of the social network.
These quick-view statistics are derived from the traditional Insights accessible through the Admin Panel. Insights hasn’t changed, beyond following the less cluttered view introduced with Timeline for Business Pages.
iFrame Tabs are some of the most vibrant parts of a Page, allowing a business to radically deviate from the traditional Facebook layout. Tabs are now true landing pages, stripping away much of the clutter and navigation from the page. This has allowed for more than 320 extra pixels of width in the tabs, paving the way for a richer and more interactive experience on the page. To boot, an understated tab switcher is at the top of the page.
This stripping of clutter highlights a serious change in outlook for Facebook: there are no ads. While this may be a boon to users and a bone thrown towards European and American privacy legislation, advertisers are possibly losing another place to see a right-column-full of ads. As with the transition to Timeline for profiles, this has the potential to thrash the effectiveness of display ads on the social network.
What Does It Mean?
Timeline for Facebook Business Pages is the latest in a line of major and minor design tweaks that the social network has undergone. For marketers and business owners, the redesign offers deep integration with both the feel of the new Facebook and the inner workings of EdgeRank and other metrics. Timeline lets businesses tell their whole story while visitors read the posts most relevant to them about the business, taking from a wide variety of sources and methods of mentioning the brand.
These new changes, set to roll live March 30, are sure to keep all of us – marketers, business owners, and users – on our toes and creating the best social experience for our readers. Got any million-dollar ideas for the new layout?
Posted on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
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