Advisors should be aware of big changes coming to all Facebook’s brand pages soon. On March 30, ready or not, all pages will be converted automatically to Facebook’s new Timeline format. Until then, firms can experiment with the new design before publishing the page, but the deadline is looming.

A feature that is new is the large cover image on each brand page that goes across the top. This one image might be the most important visual to tell your story.

According to Facebook’s guidelines, cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain price or purchase information, contact information, references to user interface elements (for example, asking for likes), or calls to action. Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property.

The original profile picture has been the highlight, but will be secondary, since it will be much smaller. (It needs to be 180 pixels.) This image will continue to show up at the top and on news feeds, etc., so it is still important. For most firms, the logo might be a good option.

The pages also allow for a wall that is much more visual. Page administrators can customize the space visuals occupy online via starring (this will make an image half the width of the page) and making images into milestones (expanding them across the page). There is even functionality to pin a post created by the page to get it to appear at the top for seven days, rather than have it be buried down the page in reverse chronological order.

No More Landing Pages

One important change: the new design does away with landing pages as a default option. Those landing pages — which are separate from the regular brand page’s Facebook wall — are a main design feature still used by many companies to get users to like their pages. As part of the new design, the option to like the page will appear under the cover image, and all brand pages will have the same design in that regard.
The new design also means administrators will have more control over messages that appear on the page than they did before.

New Control Center

A dashboard allows those managing the page the ability to track activity, such as new likes, posts and reach. Facebook defines reach as the number of unique visitors who have seen any content associated with your page (including any ads or sponsored stories pointing to a page) during a selected date range.

Better communications

The new brand pages will also allow fans and visitors to contact a brand directly through private messaging via a message button, also found underneath the cover image, rather than just making public posts on a wall. This will be a plus for advisors concerned for compliance reasons about making public posts.
At its recent marketing conference in New York, Facebook gave this advice over and over: Transition from advertising to telling a story. In other words, make sure you have good content.

Facebook has become more visual, giving businesses greater ability to better tell a story by using photos. If organizations avoid selling and instead engage visitors and followers, they may see the creation of more brand advocates. As always, check with your compliance department for specific rules on social networks, especially on archiving all social media communications.

Mike Byrnes is the founder of Byrnes Consulting which provides consulting services to advisors.