A defining characteristic of Facebook as a technology company, and perhaps the primary reason why it’s stayed well ahead of all the competition, has been their knack for staying innovative by fearlessly shaking up the design of their network ecosystem on a consistent basis by introducing new features at the drop of a hat. It’s frustrating for users who fear change, but it’s also the reason why Facebook is as succesful as it is. The minute a user gets comfortable with the design, everything changes overnight. February 29th 2012 will end as just another one of those days.
As many had expected, today Facebook released a slew of new features that are going to have a significant impact on how page owners rep their brands and interact with fans. The changes have been outlined in detail, but to summarize some of the highlights:
1. Timeline replaces ALL landing pages
Page owners: stop and absorb the weight of this information. All pages will now default to a brand’s Timleline and thus can no longer have a custom tab set as the initial landing page. Applications and custom tabs are still in play, but can no longer be the first thing a visitor sees.
2. Every page gets a banner
Just like user profiles, every branded page gets an 851 by 315 photo displayed at the top of the Timeline.
Page owners can now receive messages from fans via their pages. Instead of fans posting negative feedback or questions on the wall, they now have the option to communicate directly with the brand. This should be noted as a huge step forward in establishing Facebook as a channel for customer service.
4. Featured (pinned) posts
Pages owners have been given the ability to pin any type of status update, such as news, user posts, or photos, to the top corner of their page underneath the banner image.
While it’s a visual feast and a lot to take in all at once, Timeline for pages represents a number of exciting opportunities for brands. When a visitor lands on a page they’re now presented with a large and encompassing look at a company’s past and present. Brands have the opportunity to display not just current happenings and promotions, but also historical events and accomplishments. AT&T’s Timeline goes back as far 1878 and the New York Times has an image of their first publication back in 1851 at the bottom of their page.
It’s going to take some initial work to get everything in place and established (pages owners have until the end of March when Timelime officially becomes mandatory for all pages), but the end result can potentially open up many new doors for brands and their fans.