If you are reading this blog, chances are you landed here via Facebook. And if you landed here via Facebook, chances are that you, your business–or both–have a Facebook profile. In case you haven’t noticed, the folks at Facebook like to keep us on our toes with changes to the virtual landscape. The latest and greatest “upgrade” is the Timeline. A once-optional user interface, Timeline will become a mandatory part of every individual and business profile on Mar. 31, 2012. So, what does this change mean for your company?

There are several key components of Timeline that are different than the current profile page. While you may not love them, they are the future of Facebook–so it’s important to embrace these changes instead of fight them. Here are some of the new features:

  1. Administrator Access: The Timeline allows you to assign up to five different degrees of access for page administrators and gain access to real-time analytics surrounding popular activity metrics.
  2. Cover Photo: Possibly the most noticeable change, the cover photo displays across the top of a page’s timeline…and it is sizably larger than the current profile picture. Use this cover image to tell your brand’s story, showcase photos or highlight the unique selling points of a product or service. Remember, the cover photo cannot be a “billboard” for your business; that means it cannot include prices, purchase information, calls to action or company contact information. It also cannot urge people to “Like” or “Share” your page.
  3. Custom Tabs: These spaces will automatically display several items, like a brand’s photos and its number of “likes.” However, they can also be customized. You can have large icons linking to your custom tabs (i.e. Social Campaigns) at the top of your Timeline, giving them more visibility. If your business has apps or coupons, this is a prominent way to display them.
  4. Optional Message Button: A private messaging option allows fans and customers to communicate with your business in a one-on-one environment. This feature gives customers the power to voice complaints or negative feedback in private, and out of the public Facebook eye. Private messaging gives your business the opportunity to (1) identify weaknesses with your service or product, and (2) offer real-time solutions to defuse customer concerns. Customers want to be heard, and this provides them with that platform.
  5. Pinning: By now, most of us have heard of Pinterest. In a similar fashion, the new Facebook pinning function allows companies to keep a particular promotion or offer at the forefront of their page for a full week. So, while you continue to populate your page with daily information and status updates, you can also keep timely messages “sticky” at the top, where they won’t get lost.

Ten years ago, the word Facebook was unheard of — and now we can’t imagine life without it. Concerned about the latest changes to the social media landscape? GDS social media strategists can help you make the most of Facebook’s new functionality. To put Timeline to work for your business, or to inquire about monthly social media campaign plans, contact our NJ advertising team today.

Dan Antonelli is the President and Creative Director of Graphic D-Signs, Inc, a NJ Advertising Agency specializing in small business advertising, marketing, and brand development in New Jersey and across the country.