How to Nurture Fans and Clients with Facebook Timelines

16 July 2013 Note:  Facebook has again changed the Pages feature since this post was written. The principles below remain the same, but check out the Facebook Developer Guides for more information. The good news is that the self-promotion restriction on cover images has now been lifted. Hoorah! Calls to Action, here we come.

No sooner had we written about how to set up a default custom welcome page for fans than Facebook decided to redesign its Pages and introduce the timeline. Yikes!

The new Timeline means no more dedicated landing pages – all visitors will hit the mail Timeline screen so we no longer need to worry about having a message to get Likes and then a separate message for Fans.

On the face of it, it may seem like we’ve been short-changed. Facebook certainly has earned a reputation for annoying users with its rushed and often ill-conceived updates.

But there is good news. There are so many opportunities with the new Facebook Timeline for your professional services business. Here are a few things we recommend you do.

1. The Thumbnail.

facebook thumbnailThis is the little square image that represents your business and is displayed on the left. Everyone has a thumbnail for their profile and Pages are no different.

The size should be 180 x 180 pixels. Make sure that it is not too cluttered to dislay well even if it shows as 32 x 32 pixels, which really is quite small. Be as simple and iconic as you can.

 2. Cover

facebook coverHere is your chance to have your business in all its glory grace the cover of, well, a webpage. Treat it like you’re  on the front of TIME or Newsweek just the same.

The cover is just a photo or illustration banner at the top of your Page. It is 850 pixels wide and 315 high, like a ‘letterbox’ style format.

The rules, however, are that you are not supposed to use this space for promotional purposes such as phone numbers, ‘click here’ messages or call-to-actions. You wouldn’t do that if you were given full art direction and editorial control of a TIME cover, though, would you. Just use an image that represents your business and be creative. After all, being salesy is a turn-off. Professional services are about relationship building, right?

3. Apps

facebook custom appsYou can show up to 12 Apps below your cover image. Apps are what we used to know as Tabs. Standard Apps include Likes, Photos, Events. Only four will be visible at first glance, though. To view the rest, the visitor needs to press the ‘down’ arrow, so make sure you organise your best four to go at the top.

To change the order, hover your mouse over the App and a pencil icon will appear for those which can be modified. Press the pencil icon. The drop down menu will read Swap the position with: and list your apps. Just play a game of shuffle and switch you Apps until your best four are on the top.

If you previously had Custom Apps, you can re-purpose these too. Previously, Facebook pages used FBML (Facebook mark-up language). Timelines now use iFrames. An iFrame is simply a small framework for embedding code (HTML, CSS and Javascript) that you write or copy and paste from an already published page.

For more advanced info on sizing iFrames is here

To create a new App you can either log in as a developer or install an app to help you create these iFrames. If you log in as a developer and create custom apps, you can do some pretty cool things.

We recommend Static HTML: Iframe Tabs. It has 20, 600,000 users per month and is relatively simple to use if you already have a website and re comfortable with basic coding.

To customise the App image, use your image editor and set your graphic to 111 pixels wide x 74 pixels high.

4. Milestones

facebook milestones

Milestones are like landmark achievements. Just as an alternative suggestion, you could also create Milestones celebrating your clients’ successes.

A large ‘Congratulations Essie Flowers for $1 million in turnover” may speak more than “We secured 100 clients!” announcement, especially when you have a photo of the delighted staff of Essie’s and a dazzling bouquet.

Having said that, you can blow your own trumpet if you wish. Client numbers, awards, sponsorships, profit, growth, new offices, relocations, and new staff are all milestones in your business’ life so display them visually.

Milestone images should be 843 x 403 pixels wide.

Timelines are designed to encourage Page administrators to be more and more visual. Posts with images tend to be shared more than text only posts, so illustrate where you can. A picture tells a thousand words, they say, and a photo post will get double the shares.

5. Private Messages

Last tip, you don’t need to post all communication live onto your Timeline. This is good to know especially if you receive something negative or nasty. You can respond to a comment by sending a private message. You may want to deal with it directly and privately rather than posting the communications online. Remember the  customer complaint paradox. A complainant who receives prompt and satisfying service recovery will very often turn into your best brand advocates. Complainers are worth gold. Hooray for complainers!

Image Sizes

Here they are again:

  • Thumbnail – 180 x 180 pixels
  • Cover image – 850 pixels wide x 315 pixels high.
  • Photos will display as 4040 x 404 pixels
  • Milestones – 843 pixels wide x 403 pixels high

How do you use Facebook for your marketing or client relationship-building?

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