The Facebook world is abuzz this week over the announcement that most saw coming: Facebook fan pages are switching to the Timeline feature, just like personal profiles. Our own Brian Carreno scoured the new Timeline and came up with a detailed, easy-to-understand synopsis of all the changes.

Here’s what Brian has to say:

Facebook pages will have to switch to the new Timeline format by March 30. Like personal profiles, pages currently have the option to preview the new spiffy digs, and page administrators can choose to publish Timeline for pages early or wait for the automatic switch at the end of the month. With all that in mind, it’s important to understand what exactly is changing and how to prepare for those changes.

Cover and profile pictures

Coke Facebook Timeline featured this screen shot of Coca-Cola’s new Facebook Timeline. Coke was one of the first brands to try out the Timeline.

Profile pictures can no longer be set as long banners. By default, profile pictures will be cropped and resized to the display size (180X180px). Cover pictures are the long horizontal photos that stretch across the top of the page (851X315px). The cover photos are meant to be a way to present what the business is about visually.

There are several restrictions to what is allowed in the cover and profile pictures. For one, there can be no calls to action or reference to Facebook features. That means that users can’t be told “Like us!” “Click Like!” “Click here!”

Additionally, no purchasing information can be on the cover: “50% off!” “Weekly special: …”  and similar attention grabbers are not allowed. Contact information is also a no-no; addresses, phone numbers or website address have to be left off the cover picture.


Immediately under the cover picture, there will be a short about section that will display “Like” statistics, contact information and a short description of the page.


Apps will follow the “About” section. One of the biggest noticeable changes will be how custom tabs are implemented. Page administrators will no longer set a default tab; visitors will automatically be directed to the Timeline. Visitors will have to click to view a specific app. This creates a challenge for brands that rely on landing pages to introduce their page to first-time visitors. Out of the four displayed apps, the “Photos” app will permanently be the first. Page administrators can reorganize the remaining apps to be displayed in any order.


Facebook pages will now have the ability to privately communicate with a fan via messaging. This is good because it allows for personalized customer interaction, but can also cause issues if messages are not reviewed often. If a fan has a question, comment, concern or issue and they message the page, without a prompt response the fan could perceive to be ignored or be of lesser importance to the business.


The new Timeline will now display page-generated content with visitor generated content. Previously, the default was to show page-generated content only and visitors had to select to view other people’s contributions to the page.

Visitors will still be able to choose to view postings specifically generated by the page or other visitors, but visitors will always be defaulted to the mix when visiting again. Page administrators need to be careful to review public postings to their page to protect the brand. This is a situation that requires a social media plan to be solidly in place so that page administrators know how to handle negative feedback.

Along with the new Timeline feed, page administrators will now have the availability to highlight posts and create milestones. With highlighting posts, an admin can “pin” a message (regardless of how old) to the top left of the page for seven days at a time. This will be the first page generated content a visitor will see. This can be used to showcase messages that should be viewed by all visitors.

Milestones can be created to announce important points in time for businesses. A milestone can be created for the founding date, relocation, reopening, or any other memorable event. Milestones can come in handy when announcing major changes to visitors.

Admin Panel and Activity Log

The admin panel will now be a system that is laid over the page. It can be activated in the upper right menu. This creates quicker and easier editing for page administrators because they can see what is being edited while viewing the page itself.

The activity log is used to view and manage all content displayed on the Timeline. This will make it easier to highlight, pin and delete posts. There won’t be a need to scroll through the Timeline to find something specific to manage.

Whew! That’s a lot of changes.

We know this blog has covered a lot. Need help? The Belford Group’s social media team is available to help brands better manage their new Timeline pages.