Lee Odden

Facebook Timeline: What Are the Changes for Brand Pages?

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

Note from Lee: Please welcome this guest post from Sara Duane-Gladden, of TopRank Online Marketing’s copywriting team. 


Facebook is changing again. That never happens, right? For regular users like me, it seems as if there is something new happening at the social network every day. Facebook Timeline is probably one of the most significant, though, and it’s coming to a brand page near you soon. Very soon.

Timeline is the newest change from Facebook, a social media network renowned for making “enhancements” to its much-beloved product that result in mixed criticism and compliments from users. Timeline is no different, as it has been both praised and panned in the blogosphere. There doesn’t appear to be a consensus on Timeline, which is typical of Facebook changes. Love It or hate it, users and brands alike will adjust to Timeline in order to continue participating in the Facebook community – just like they have in the past.

Every one and every brand on Facebook will be adjusting to Timeline soon, too. Any profiles or pages that have not already been converted to Facebook Timeline by this weekend will automatically transform. According to messages displayed at the top of pages and profiles that have not implemented Timeline, brand and business pages will convert on March 30th, 2012, while personal profile pages will switch over on April 1, 2012.

If you’ve been avoiding making the switch, now is the time to accept the change and take control of how your Facebook Timeline appears by previewing it now. Until this weekend, you still have a chance to preview your business page or pages, make edits, then publish it on your own terms. Making the changes yourself instead of allowing Facebook’s automated process to publish your new page for you will ensure that it truly reflects your brands standards and messaging. These changes can be initiated by visiting the Page while logged in as an admin and finding the instructions near the top to preview Timeline.

Perhaps you’ve already seen Timeline in action and are not quite sure what to think of it. What can you actually expect to see when your Facebook Page or Profile is converted over to Timeline?

toprank facebook timeline

Cover Photo. A large banner image prominently displays at the top of a Timeline profile. There are some requirements and restrictions for the images: They must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not include price or purchase information, contact information, calls to action or even references to Facebook site features such as “Like” or “Share.” Covers also cannot be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on other copyrights. Wider images work better than narrow.

The cover photo feature is great because it offers the chance to customize the top of a Facebook page like never before. Prominently display a new product. Show a picture of your service in action. Splash your brand colors across it with a compelling image that makes Fans want to scroll down to see more. Within the restrictions listed above, there are vast opportunities for filling this newly available space.

jando fabrics facebookProfile Picture. While the Cover Photo display is rectangular in shape, the profile picture is changing to square. The acceptable size range for them is 180×180 to 32×32 pixels. That’s significantly smaller than the 4 MB photos allowed previously, but the cover photo size more than makes up for this change.

With the way they are arranged, the profile photo can be nicely coordinated to compliment the cover photo. The cover photo splashes across the top while the profile photo is an inset located on the left side. Some creative design here could tie the two images together for maximum visual effect.


Navigation and Applications. Directly below these two features is a navigation bar and section for apps. On the left side directly below the profile picture is the section for your profile or page that contains location, contact and other information. To the right of this section one can choose other data to display, such as photos, events, Likes or custom applications.

Photos are automatically displayed in this bar and cannot be removed. In addition to the usual Facebook features of photos, events and Likes, applications can be displayed in this area. This can include weekly ads, charitable apps, geo-location apps and more.

Facebook Public Statistics

Public Page Insights. One of the features on the Navigation Bar is “Likes,” which displays more than just the people who are Fans of the page. With the old layout, users were able to get a glimpse at how many people liked the page and how many were talking about it. Now they can see more, such as insights into what geographic areas most fans reside, the most popular age groups, and what week was the most popular for activity.

One advantage for brands is that you can visit the page of a competitor, view its analytic insights, and use the information gleaned to make the most of your own Facebook social media marketing plan. The flip-side of the coin is that your competitors can also see your insights. What value it provides for fans is unclear and remains to be seen. This Facebook Timeline feature is something that we’ll all be learning about together!

coca cola facebook timelineThe Timeline. Ah, the main feature for which all these changes receives its name, the Timeline. Status updates, Likes, shares and other posts are now displayed in a visual aggregation on the Timeline. The Timeline will extend all the way to the first day a brand page was established. Milestones in your brand’s history can also be added as well to extend the Timeline, all the way to when a business was founded.

Unlike the old Pages, Admins can highlight specific posts by starring them or pinning them to be more prominently displayed. Images also appear much larger with the new update. Furthermore, new apps are being created every day for use with Timeline to enhance its usefulness, with more than 3,000 available to users already.

Timeline and all of the new features that surround it is one of the biggest new changes Facebook has ever undertaken. Since it began rolling out to users at the end of last year, there have been many conversations on the topic – more than a few probably bordering on arguments. Some people and brands really like the new Timeline, while others are concerned that it will negatively affect the way users interact with their Pages. So far, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case, as one recently released study shows Timeline can drastically increase fan engagement an average of 46% and as much as 161% for Toyota.

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve been avoiding Facebook’s Timeline feature, the end is near and the change is inevitable. Make the necessary adjustments now to make certain that your Timeline looks the way you want it to when other people view it after April – not how Facebook makes it look with its automatic conversion. Grab the bull by the horns and make the change on your terms today!

If you’ve made the switch to Facebook Timeline, what has your experience been so far? If not, what is holding you back? Share your story in the comments!

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1.  I m’ Use This Time line, Looking good friend use in time line

  2. Love the Timeline and moreso the better page analytics for brands.  Only big complaint is the inability to customize icons for many ‘apps’ (of formerly tabs)

  3. Avatar PepperVA_Grace says

    Facebook is more than a site for connecting with your friends;
    it is an effective channel to reach your target audiences or fans. The change
    of the Facebook format is an opportunity for businesses to be creative in
    utilizing these new features to be effective in getting the attention of the
    people. Just like marketing it would always make changes in terms of strategy
    and I think everyone needs to embrace this kind of change.

  4. Some good storytelling here. Here’s another good one: https://www.facebook.com/brunnerworks

  5. Avatar Brendan Carl says

    Hi Lee,

    The only two real benefits to the update, in my opinion, is the insights option and the timeline.
    The Insights feature is useful for competition analysis, like you said. But, it is only somewhat useful. Sure, you can glean some information from your competition, but it does not really give you THAT much useful information.

    However, the timeline feature does offer more benefits. The Milestones features is a great way to start discussion with Facebook fans/readers. The Starred posts feature is beneficial in the same way. They both are excellent ways to increase dialogue between you and your fans, which is what Facebook fan pages SHOULD be about.

    Anyways, thanks for the share! I have not integrated my web presence into Facebook yet (although I have recently got into Twitter and Google+), but I will soon. Social media is very important, especially for marketers in the IM niche.
    Social media + blogs = credibility and dialogue.

  6. Great
    info graphics,  And great piece of Info on Facebook’s new (not so new by
    now) Timeline. Though In my opinion the Timeline Features was developed for
    marketing on Facebook and not just purely on the UX (User Experience) of the Social
    Media Channel. – Thanks for sharing.

  7. I switched over to the Timeline a few weeks ago and I’m loving it so far.  At first I had some trouble uploading images for the apps icons, but I think Facebook worked those bugs out.  Looks great now!

  8. Avatar Jeremy Ruggles says

    I am still a little weiry of changing to timeline. New Facebook changes always make me wonder….. if they are worth my time or not…. I’ll probably look into it more later, but for now, I’ll stick with what I got.


  9. Avatar Lizzie Warren says

    I do not know a single facebook user who likes timeline.  All I hear are complaints.  Zuckerberg is trying to convince people that it’s great by having some drones post positive comments.  But in the REAL world, business pages are actually seeing a loss of traffic to their timelined pages.

  10. Avatar Cleo mortie says

    Facebook timeline has went on to become really helpful for brand pages. It all rests on how a brand utilizes it to maximize returns and establish its reputation. Facebook is taking lots of steps towards offering a lot to users. Even the marketers who use this most famous social networking site for promotion will get added advantage due the introduction of timeline feature.

    I covered same post http://www.seo-peace.com/seo-buzz/give-your-brand-pages-new-look-via-facebook-timeline-new-features/

  11. Avatar lilgame_0007 says

    i like my timeline and my cover page. makes my profile a little more unique. by the way send free text messages at textme4free.com

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