TIPS FOR BRANDS AND MARKETERS TO MAKE THE MOST
OF FACEBOOK’S 2012 TIMELINE CHANGES FOR PAGES
MARKETER’S GUIDE TO:
HIGHLIGHTS FROM FACEBOOK’S 2012 CHANGES
TIMELINE FOR BRANDS: OUR POINT OF VIEW
MAIN PAGES CHANGES
#1: VISUALIZATION: TIMELINE LAYOUT
#2: TIMELINE OPTIMIZATION
#3: FACEBOOK APPLICATIONS
#4: 1-ON-1 MESSAGES & USER CONTROL
#1: OFFERS POSTS
#2: POSTING STANDARDS
#3: REACH GENERATOR
#4: PREMIUM ON FACEBOOK
BEST PRACTICES: A NEW SET OF PRINCIPLES
#1: BRAND OVER COMMUNITY
#2: DON’T FORGET NEWS FEED
#3: EMPHASIS ON VISUALIZATION
#4: STORYTELLING THROUGH MILESTONES
JACK MORTON WORLDWIDE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Every once in a while, Facebook makes its users and marketing partners
feel like it’s ruining everything. Does Facebook’s new Timeline layout
really ruin Facebook for brands? Probably not. But there are some
substantial changes marketers should be aware of just one year after the
last round of sweeping changes (remember photo strips?). One thing to
know: your custom applications won’t look as good as they used to.
On the heels of the rollout of its new Timeline format for user Profiles,
Facebook is launching the new Timeline format for its brand partners,
too. The new layout will have an impact on what brands have built on
Facebook in the past (i.e. applications, posts, photos and more) and how
brands can best use Facebook in the future.
Brands have until March 30th to activate the new layout for their Pages,
but in the meantime, Jack Morton has assembled this guide to key
changes in the platform and the best ways to leverage tomorrow’s
Facebook starting today.
FACEBOOK’S 2012 CHANGES
Facebook has undeniably changed the way we communicate with and relate to other humans. As Facebook
COO Sheryl Sandberg said in her keynote during the Facebook Marketing Conference, “For the first time,
technology is powering us… and who we are.”
On its path to reshape our lives as individuals (and yes, make a profit), Facebook (and social media in general)
has also begun to change the way brands communicate with consumers.
The focus is no longer on how brands communicate, but rather on how they relate. We
believe brands relate best to consumers through brand experiences. We also believe that
brand experiences are most meaningful when consumers are surrounded by their social
Facebook has given brands a platform to listen, comment, ask, answer, converse, innovate and, yes, even sell
while users are surrounded by their social context. Facebook’s Timeline puts social brand experience at the
platform’s center. No longer will users experience brands in isolation or with a few other (often random) users
on message board-style Pages, but rather, users will be prompted to experience brands and their heritage
through their closest -- and most trusted -- social connections.
In light of Facebook’s announcement of the rollout of Timeline-based layouts for brand Pages, we’re
having conversations with our clients about what the social brand experiences of the present and
future will look like. To catch a glimpse into our thinking, we offer up this guide to the shifts on the
platform, including what we believe will be the best practices for brands as they journey forward to
relate to their consumers.
Is your brand ready to make the most of Facebook’s Timeline for brand Pages?
FACEBOOK TIMELINE FOR BRANDS:
OUR POINT OF VIEW
PAGES CHANGE #1:
Though many brands used
extended, promotional proﬁle
pictures in the past, Facebook’s new
Timeline layout means that a
brand’s proﬁle picture can now stay
a relatively consistent reﬂection of
the logo, using the Cover Image for
major promotions instead. It should
be uploaded at 180 x 180 pixels. It
will automatically be scaled down to
32 x 32 pixels for News Feed
The new home for on-Page promotion, the Cover Photo should be
uploaded at 851 x 315 pixels. The perfect place to feature a fan or
photo of the month, a new promotion or even a call-out for a (now
more hidden) custom Facebook Application. Careful! Cover Photos
may not include price or purchase information, contact information
or calls to action. Consult Facebook’s rules before development.
The new Page layout allows for the biggest,
most customizable visual branding ever.
Combined with a new, moments-in-time
focused layout, Pages now act as more of a
brand narrative than a community message
PAGES CHANGE #1:
VISUALLY COMPELLING POSTS WIN
Facebook was popularized based on a sleek and simple,
mostly text-based interface that made it easier to understand
what friends were thinking, doing and saying. With bad
memories of ﬂashing and disorganized MySpace proﬁles far
behind users (or even before some users’ time), Facebook is
beginning to put more of an emphasis on helping users
visualize their friends’ and brands’ posts and activity.
Brands that create posts that are accompanied by visual media
(i.e. a photo or video) enjoy greater inclusion and engagement
through users’ News Feeds and also are now core to a quality
user experience in the Timeline layout.
Posts that include ﬁll-in-the blanks, caption contests and
video clips will drive engagement as Facebook continues to
evolve. Additionally, visually compelling posts make for an
easily scannable, engaging Timeline history, which users can
now scroll through at any time.
PAGES CHANGE #2:
A new section of Pages acts as a personalized social lens
through which users can view a given brand. A call-out with the
number of a user’s friends who like the Page as well as some of
their recent activity pertaining to the brand is featured at the top
of the Timeline.
Friends care about friends, making the prominence of this
section a compelling reason for brands to respond to each and
every post on their Pages.
WHAT GIVES TIMELINE ITS
NAME? WELL, A TIMELINE.
The entire structure of the new
Facebook Pages layout is inspired by
a history-based timeline that
documents a brand’s existence
(ﬁctional or actual), from its
founding or opening to the present.
Brands with a rich and interesting
history now have the opportunity to
use a new type of posts,
“Milestones,” which allow them to
add historical landmarks for their
businesses or the backstory for an
upcoming movie. A simple tool at
the right of Pages allows for
navigation through time.
PAGES CHANGE #2:
PINNING POSTS FOR 7 DAYS
While Facebook recommends Pages post once per day, it has
created a capability that allows Administrators to “Pin” a post to
the top of the Page, so that it is the ﬁrst thing users see upon
arrival for a 7-day period.
The terminology of “Pinning” may seem suspiciously close to that
of recent social media darling Pinterest. Widely, the media agrees
and attributes the use of the terminology to Zuckerberg’s ongoing
obsession with staying up to speed with start-up competition.
Page Administrators now have a way to prioritize
their own content within the Timeline by starring
the best (most engaging) ones and allowing it to
expand with double width on the timeline.
Just as easily, Administrators can hide less
engaging or less important stories. The net
effect of this functionality is that once a post is
no longer current, Administrators can choose
not to feature it as a main part of the company’s
past in the Timeline. As such, product recall
announcements or public apologies can still be
distributed and shown while relevant, but can
later be hidden in favor of more positive
milestones in the brand’s past.
PAGES CHANGE #3:
NO WELCOME TAB. APP SIZE
The new Timeline layout dispenses with a
tab-based brand favorite: the welcome tab.
Administrators will no longer be able to set a
default landing tab as the ﬁrst thing users
see upon arriving to the Page. Instead, the
Cover Photo will need to do any “Welcome”
talking desired by the brand (though current
fans will see it too).
The new application display will continue to
allow older apps (520 pixels in width) to
display, but they’ll look narrow in the new
layout that allows for 810 pixel-wide
layouts. Applications new and old require a
new icon to appear on the Page that is 111 ×
PAGES CHANGE #3:
APPLICATIONS GET A DOWNGRADE
Much to many brands’ chagrin, custom Facebook Applications,
which represent a signiﬁcant investment to many marketers,
were given a low priority in the new Timeline layout. Pages can
choose to feature up to three custom applications by default
(the Photos Application is ﬁxed), but the rest fall below in an
area that must be expanded by the user prior to viewing
Because Facebook’s interface has long been based on a tabbed
navigational structure, where brands would often create
“Welcome Tabs” to orient users to the Page, this will trigger a
major change in many Page’s user experience. Users will now
have to be drawn in by a brand’s content, rather than a
1-ON-1 MESSAGES & USER CONTROL
PAGES CHANGE #4:
COMMUNITY MANAGERS: REJOICE!
Uncharacteristically, Facebook is allowing
brands complete control over how
conversations appear on their Pages.
Buried in Facebook’s Timeline updates are new
capabilities that allow Administrators to
prevent fans’ posts to the Timeline from
showing up publicly until they have been
approved by an administrator.
Administrators can also hide a box that allows
users to see recent post by people other than
their immediate friends, pretty much killing
any sense of community that Pages once had.
1-ON-1 MESSAGES ARE HERE
Previously, the only way brands could communicate with
consumers through their Pages was publicly through the
Page’s wall. With Timeline, Facebook is introducing a new
“Message” button that appears next to the “Like” Button
at the top of the Page (at a brand’s discretion -- it can be
Though brand’s still cannot reach out to users directly to
initiate a 1-to-1 conversation, they can now receive
messages from users and respond through the platform.
Not all customer service can or should be public.
BRAND PROMOTION #1:
READY TO BATTLE DAILY
DEALS? NOT YET.
Facebook has made several attempts over
the past few years to develop an offering
that could rival daily deals sites like
Groupon and Living Social.
With the release of Timeline, Facebook
has added another new post type called
“Offers.” Using the post, brands can
feature a promotion on their page, allow
users to claim it and have the coupon sent
directly to the user’s email or mobile
device. The seamless experience is
powered by Facebook’s ability to leverage
users’ proﬁle data to offer analytics and
tracking that brands will be intrigued by.
For additional exposure, Facebook also
recommends combining Offers with its ad
units to reach a broader audience and
trigger viral spread.
BRAND PROMOTION #2:
FACEBOOK GOES ON RECORD
For the ﬁrst time publicly, Facebook went on
the record with recommendations about the
frequency of posts Pages should use. The
answer was what most strategists had
concluded: one, engaging post per day is
Facebook also released some staggering
statistics about what types of posts work
• Visually engaging posts generate 2X the
engagement of basic text posts.
• On average, people visit and engage with
Pages most often between 9pm and
• Posts between 100 and 250 characters
(less than 3 lines of text) see about 60%
more likes, than longer posts.
Facebook estimates that the average Page
reaches 16% of its fans in the average week. It
also recommends using Page Insights to ﬁnd
out when people engage most with content
and post during those hours.
BRAND PROMOTION #3:
FACEBOOK’S NEW TAKE ON
Over a year ago, Facebook launched new ad
units referred to as “Sponsored Stories.” These
units essentially help to amplify Page Posts so
that they reach more users (both fans and
non-fans) to trigger further viral spread and
awareness of the brand and/or offering.
These ad units have now been re-launched
and now fall under an umbrella grouping
called “Reach Generator.”
In addition to re-naming the offering,
Facebook is also breaking its Sponsored Story
ad units out of the right side of the interface.
Units will now also be eligible to appear in
users’ News Feeds on their desktops and, once
Timeline comes to mobile devices in April,
through mobile devices. This will be the ﬁrst
time mobile advertisements are available
through Facebook’s platform.
When using Sponsored Stories, it it is
imperative that brands express the core of the
message in the ﬁrst 90 characters of the post,
as that is the size of the ad unit.
PREMIUM ON FACEBOOK
BRAND PROMOTION #4:
BIG SPENDS GET BIG BENEFITS
Facebook’s top advertising spenders will now
be using an offering re-named “Premium on
Facebook.” In order to augment its pre-
existing premium advertising offering,
Facebook is adding the in-News Feed ads,
mobile News Feed ads and a new Log-out
experience as parts of its paid media
And these higher end products have paid off
in the past. Facebook reports that ad units
featured on its homepage (reserved for
premium advertisers) have generated 5x-10x
more engagement than all other places on the
Further, Facebook reports that Premium Ads
and Sponsored Stories on the right-hand side
are typically 40% more engaging and 80%
more likely to be remembered than all
Among other new claims Facebook is making
about the beneﬁts of its paid advertising
products is that “well-run campaigns that
leverage social drive ROIs of 3x or greater.”
A NEW SET OF
BEST PRACTICE #1:
FORCED COMMUNITY IS DEAD...
CONTROL IS BACK
One of the biggest challenges for brands
joining Facebook (especially those in highly
regulated industries) has always been the fact
that users could post whatever they wanted to
brand’s walls whenever they wanted to... for
the world to see.
Timeline does away with that. In fact, the
entire interface has made a shift from being a
dolled up message board with some cool
interactive features to becoming a narrative
story about a brand... completely controlled by
the brand. Administrators can prevent users
from posting to the timeline, moderate all
posts and even re-publish the user-generated
posts they like.
The Timeline is engineered to tell the brand’s
story as it wants to be seen. Blemishes can be
hidden and Community Managers have
complete control over what happens on the
Page. One-to-one, consumer-to-brand
messaging also keeps consumers’ and brands’
dirty laundry (i.e. customer service issues) out
of sight and, perhaps, out of mind.
DON’T FORGET THE
BEST PRACTICE #2:
VISUALS SHOULDN’T DISTRACT
FROM WHAT’S REALLY MISSION
If nothing else, users will have to admit:
Timeline is pretty. Marketers are sure to love
playing with the Cover Photos and ﬁnding
new ways to feature neat history as part of the
Timeline. Facebook is even pushing the idea
of the Page itself as “Mission Control” every
chance it gets.
None of that changes the fact, however, that
perhaps the most important part of Facebook
for brands has not signiﬁcantly changed at
all: the News Feed. Indeed, the majority of
engagement and awareness is generated by
brands’ posts being seen among their friends’
posts in the News Feed.
While Facebook’s new paid advertising units
will be able to land brands in the News Feed,
a strong content strategy with engaging posts
at the right time will still be at the core of the
most successful brands on Facebook. So go
ahead, make your brand’s Page beautiful...
but don’t forget to think long and hard about
that News Feed.
BEST PRACTICE #3:
RICH VISUALS MAKE THE BEST
CONTENT AND THE BEST TIMELINES
No one wants to read a book when they hop on
Facebook to stalk a few friends. A quick scroll
through a brand’s timeline will give you an idea of
whether it is posting enough rich visual content.
The more photos, videos and links relevant to
individual posts, the more a brand stands out in
the timeline and builds affinity through its
As the entire Internet drives towards a future of
representing a new world of data with easy-to-
understand visuals, it will be no surprise if
Facebook continues to focus on making
improvements to the platform that make it more
BEST PRACTICE #4:
CONTRIBUTE TO BRAND STORIES
Brands, public ﬁgures and institutions that
have a rich history have a perfect opportunity
to display it through Timeline in an engaging
way. Administrators can literally go back in
time and use the new “Milestone” post type to
add landmarks in an organization’s past all
the way back to the year it was founded.
Brands that have longstanding relationships
with customers can even encourage users to
contribute photos that can then be re-posted
as part of the Page’s history.
For those brands that don’t have a history,
like movies, Timeline allows Administrators to
tell a fanciful backstory that can build
anticipation for premieres. For television
shows or entertainers, Timeline offers a
wonderful way to catalogue episodes or
performances and the journey to
WILL YOU USE TIMELINE TO CREATE COMPELLING
SOCIAL BRAND EXPERIENCES FOR CONSUMERS?
JACK MORTON WORLDWIDE is a global brand experience agency with offices on four continents. Our agency culture
promotes breakthrough ideas about how experiences connect brands and people – in person, online, at retail and through the
power of digital and word of mouth influence. We work with both BtoC and BtoB clients to create powerful and effective
experiences that engage customers and consumers, launch products, align employees and build strong experience brands.
Ranked at the top of our field, we’ve earned over 50 awards for creativity, execution and effectiveness last year, including best
new product introduction, best media event and employee campaign of the year. Jack Morton is part of the Interpublic Group of
Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG).
More information is available online:
Web site: http://www.jackmorton.com/
FOR MORE INSIGHT INTO FACEBOOK’S TIMELINE FOR BRANDS,
TIPS FOR BRANDS AND MARKETERS TO MAKE THE MOST
OF FACEBOOK’S 2012 TIMELINE CHANGES FOR PAGES
MARKETER’S GUIDE TO: