5 Creative Ideas to Spark New Engagement in Facebook Timeline for Fan Pages

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With Facebook’s recent implementation of Timeline for Pages, we are quickly reminded that we have no control over what direction Facebook might take with their platform. Regardless if you are a fan or not of Facebook, however, there is still no better way to reach out and engage with both present and potential consumers in social media than through a robust Facebook Page. The problem is: Are you truly maximizing your Facebook presence to reach your marketing objectives? Many businesses that I meet are not.

Maximizing your business presence on Facebook begins with truly maximizing all of the functionality that Timeline – your Home Page on Facebook – provides page owners. Rest assured: Facebook wants to sell more advertising, so they inevitably created the new Timeline to maximize the chances that your page will become “stickier” to your fans.  Some of the functionality they provide is intuitive, but it’s all about applying your creativity towards each bit of functionality as part of your social media marketing efforts and maximizing your chances of breaking through the EdgeRank filter.

Here’s 5 creative ideas on how your brand can truly maximize some of the functionality that the new Facebook Timeline provides you to spark new engagement with your Fans:

1. Cover Photo

Your Page’s cover photo (851 x 315 px) appears at the top of the Timeline where it takes up a good portion of the average computer screen. Hence, I can’t overemphasize the importance of having a visually-attractive and “branded” cover photo. You probably already know that Facebook has set a few guidelines down, but as a reminder your Timeline cover photo can’t include the following:

  • Price or purchase information
  • Company contact information
  • References to Facebook elements such as ‘Like’ or ‘Share’
  • Calls to action.
Creative Idea: Why stick with just one Cover Photo: Why not change it on a regular basis as a way of further engaging with your fans as well as giving a new and fresh “look” to your Facebook Page? Take it one step further and your regular changing of your cover photo could become as anticipated and noticed as when the Google logo changes above their search bar. Why stop there? Why not crowdsource cover photo ideas or images from your fans and bring your brand closer to your fans? Let’s take this one step further: Why not run a contest using a popular Facebook app platform such as Binkd or Wildfire and both crowdsource and have your fans vote on the cover photos? The possibilities are as limitless as your creativity should be here!

2. Pinned Posts

Tell people which messages you really want to get across by pinning them to the top of your page using a Pinned Post. A Pinned Post remains on top for 7 days, which means that page visitors get to see it often and you even get your message read by people who visit your page just once a week. This is the ultimate solution for a clear “Call to Action” which the old Facebook Pages lacked.

Creative Idea: Instead of just utilizing traditional marketing to have a weekly call to action here, I actually recommend mixing up what you pin on a daily basis. The last you thing you want in a dynamic environment such as Facebook is to have a post which could become “stale” to the average social media viewer very quickly. Why not highlight your fans in some of your Pinned Posts? Or perhaps shuffle those posts that have sparked particularly high engagement? This could lead to even more engagement to help your battle with EdgeRank – or, at the least, add to your Page’s Social Proof!

3. Highlighted Posts

You can also expand your stories so that it takes up both sides of the Timeline via Highlighted Posts. These images appear prominently in your Timeline in a 843 x 403 px size. Preliminary research on certain Pages that implemented Timeline right after it was announced revealed that there has been an increase in engagement of up to 65% for visual content like photos and videos. That makes sense: after all, images are the most highlighted posts in Timeline since Facebook automatically blows them up to fill the width of the post.

Creative Idea: We all know how well images do in the News Feed, and they can now also feature prominently in your Timeline. Why not try to mix up your posts by Highlighting several prominent ones, especially ones that had a lot of engagement to try to spark further engagement. Once again, let Social Proof work in your favor. Furthermore, when scrolling down a Timeline, Highlighted Posts beckon to be read once you see it emerging from below the fold, which undoubtedly can spark new engagement.

4. “Fill in the Gaps” with Milestones and Past Posts, Hide Other Posts

Every business has a story, and you can now share it to your fans through Milestones. Sure, it’s not as visible as your cover photo, but nevertheless it’s still a good way to keep your fans more connected to your brand. Although it is still questionable whether Milestones appear in the News Feed even though there is a “Hide from News Feed” option when creating a Milestone,  the top righthand corner of ever Page beckons you to go back in history on each page.

In addition to creating new Milestones, you can create as many backdated posts – as well as hide as many older posts, as you want.

Creative Idea: Just as you might have hidden embarrassing content from your personal profile, what about hiding posts from the past that might not be as appropriate for your current brand? Or what about posts that didn’t end up getting any engagement? Take this one step further and, in addition to hiding select posts from the past, through a combination of adding Milestones and “new” posts from the past (albeit these new posts from the past will start with zero engagement), you can recreate how your brand should have developed content for their Page. It’s all about increasing the chances of engagement when a viewers scrolls through your timeline.

5. Apps Still Matter!

Apps are the new Tabs, and they’re still on your Timeline, right below your cover photo. While you can no longer use them to welcome fans to your Page (as in the case of a Welcome Tab), your visitors will still see them prominently under the Cover Photo.  Therefore, it’s a must to rearrange the apps in order of importance and create thumbnail images for them (111 x 74 px) to showcase them. Hover over the thumbnail, click on the pen icon, and start editing.

Creative Idea: Take this chance to organize all of your old Apps and consider hiding ones that might not matter anymore. In fact, if Facebook is only exposing four, why don’t you limit your visible Tabs to four as well? Yes, this means that, in addition to the Photos and Likes, you can only use two additional tabs. However, the fewer calls to action you make, the more people will engage with the visible tabs. If you run contests, consider hiding the tab you replace it with – you can always add it back in in the future after the contest ends by visiting your Page’s App settings.

Now, after saying all of this, it is important to mention that maximizing your Timeline is only one piece of the Facebook marketing puzzle. After all, research has been pretty consistent in revealing that most fans never go back to a Facebook page after liking it, with only 0.1% to 0.5% returning to the actual fanpage every once in a while. Whether this number improves or not with the new Timeline has yet to be seen.  My own Windmill Networking Fan Page Insights show that I get as many monthly Page Views as 1% of my fans.  One of my social media agency clients who has several hundred thousand fans exhibits a number that is closer to 0.2%.  For many small businesses, however, this number could represent a number that is close to the actual page views they get on their real website – which is why having a robust Timeline presence is still important.

Obviously, maximizing the Timeline is only one of several things that you need to do to maximize the opportunities to market to 900+ million users, but this is where you should spend a little time “getting your house in order” and setting your Page up for future success.

Now it’s YOUR turn: What other creative ideas do YOU have to spark engagement in the new Facebook Timeline for Fan Pages?

If you enjoyed these tips, join me on Thursday, May 18 for a webinar where I unveil my new Facebook for Business 10 Step Guide – practical and actionable advice to promote your company to 900 million users.

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

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Comments

  1. says

    Great ideas, Neal! In going along with the apps, it’s definitely suggested to get rid of the ‘likes’ tab all together. Because you can utilize that space for a tab that is more useful, such as an additional call to action or signing up for your newsletter (I’ve gotten quite a few people to sign up for my newsletter from FB). And if you keep that ‘likes’ tab around, people can click on it and see your stats, whether they’re good or bad, we want our peeps to stay focused on what we have to offer, not the stats of our FB page. :) 

    Great tips!!

    • says

      Thanks Morgan! Well, the “Likes” tab is an interesting one. I actually include the Likes tab and still have two tabs left on Windmill Networking (one being an email newsletter signup tab), so although I’m limited to two calls-to-action, so far I’m OK.  Now, my reasoning for including it is the “Social Proof” factor – if I was just starting out I might not include it, but once you get to a certain level, I think it can work to your benefit.  You also bring up an excellent point.  So it comes down to an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach … as with anything else in social media, no single right or wrong answer, but THANK YOU SO MUCH for adding such a valuable comment to the conversation! YOU ROCK!!!

  2. says

     What a great post! I’m glad I ran across this…many other informational posts as well! I like to check out Coca-Cola’s tabs–they are fun and interactive! I am working on implementing something similar to our Facebook fan page.

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