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Facebook Business Pages’ Future: Timeline Change

5 October 2011
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Timeline. Either you love it or hate it, Facebook has changed. Businesses all over the world ask this question, “What does this mean for Business Pages?” The answer is they are changing!

At the recent f8, Facebook Developer Conference, some of our friends and partners learned a lot of “insider” information. Tim Moore, CEO of CrushIQ, Ben Menesini, VP Ubiquity Development of ShortStack, and myself, Josh Harcus, talked about the future of Facebook Brand/Business Pages. Here are a few possible changes for the new Facebook Business Pages:

Ben Mensesini’s thoughts (via. email):

“Here’s a short writeup.  This is all personal opinion and speculation; nothing concrete has been said by Facebook yet.

What Timeline Means for Facebook Pages

It’s coming.  We don’t know exactly how, or what it means for businesses yet, but in private conversations with Facebook developers, it was made fairly clear that Facebook is interested in maintaining consistency across the entire application.  This consistency could be part of the reasons that Facebook announced they’re removing the “Discussions” and “Reviews” applications from Pages (https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=254646391237470).

Mashable recently published an article with artist concepts of what we could see.  I’d be very hesitant to say these are any more accurate than pretending to know what the iPhone 5 looked like six months ago.  Here’s a breakdown of what Mashable showed off:

– Big Picture Headers:  Likely.  Pages have always looked like Profiles in this way; I wouldn’t expect the Timeline change to be any different.

– Wall:  Facebook just increased the size of photos posted to Page Walls, which is exactly the first step they took when introducing Timeline.  I would say that Timeline, with its two column-style updates are coming to Page Walls.  There’s an important piece missing from the picture, however, and that’s how custom tabs fit into the Timeline.  Personal Profiles don’t have a space reserved for them (since they can’t be used on personal Profiles), but custom tabs remain a big part of business pages across Facebook.

– Customizable Backrounds: No way.  This isn’t MySpace; Facebook knows that full CSS control was one of the things that made MySpace miserable.

As a business, I’d be excited for the changes.  As Facebook leans more towards media and less towards text, small businesses are going to need to focus on posting interesting videos, pictures, images, and social-features like promotions.  Timeline management (assuming Timeline does get implemented in a similar way for Pages) will be important – you’ll want to groom and emphasize successful posts on your wall.

OpenGraph

source: digitaltrends

Tabs will remain important, though nobody is sure yet where they’re going to be put.  Even if the worst happens, and custom tabs are hidden below the 4-up “app bar”, its unlikely that Facebook will take away the ability to set default landing tabs (aka “Welcome Tabs”), and the width of custom tabs is also unlikely to change immediately.  When Facebook announces potentially damaging changes, they tend to give at least a few months heads-up, so ShortStack will definitely be ready when and if a custom-tab layout change is implemented.  If links to tabs are a little more buried, it becomes all that much more important for Page Admins to draw attention to relevant material on their custom tabs.

Custom Tabs will likely grow to include OpenGraph actions, objects, and verbs, but at this point it’s too early to speculate on exactly how the changes will affect businesses.  Facebook hasn’t provided an API to create objects, actions, or aggregations, so any OpenGraph usage on custom tabs will need to be performed by an experienced web developer on a tab-by-tab basis for the time being.  ShortStack is experimenting with ways to take care of this for its users, but we don’t have anything to announce yet.”

With that said, do we know exactly what is going to happen? No. But we can speculate. What do you think? What are the positives and negatives of this change?

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About Lauren Formalarie

Lauren Formalarie is a Project Manager and Trainer at SayItSocial, focusing on digital marketing strategy and project development as well as live, virtual and eLearning training initiatives.

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