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8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Facebook Page Timeline

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Having a quality Facebook page is a must for businesses, brands, and organizations that want to gain online visibility, generate website traffic, and connect with their target audience. In this article, business technology author Patrice-Anne Rutledge offers eight tips for making the most of your Facebook page's new timeline. You'll learn how to design a cover photo to attract your target audience; create a profile picture that becomes the "face" of your business; use custom apps to engage fans, pin and star featured posts; and more.
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In March 2012, Facebook launched a new design for its pages that features the timeline as well as a variety of related changes–including a resized profile picture, custom views and apps, the capability to pin and star featured posts, and more. In this article, I offer eight tips to help you make the most of your Facebook page timeline as a marketing, branding, and customer relationship tool.

1. Get Creative with Your Facebook Cover Photo (But Don't Break the Rules)

The first thing visitors to your Facebook page notice is your cover photo (see Figure 1). The ideal size for your cover is 851 x 315 pixels, so be sure to select an image that works well for these dimensions.

Figure 1 Post a cover photo that captures the attention of your target audience.

Although you should use your creativity to design an eye-catching cover that resonates with your target audience, be careful not to turn this photo into an overt advertisement for your business. Facebook has strict guidelines for what you can–and can't–include on your cover photo (see http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php for details). In general, your cover can't include any of the following:

  • Pricing or purchase information
  • Your website URL, phone number, email address, or mailing address
  • Requests to like or share your Facebook page
  • Any calls to action or sales-oriented copy

For inspiration, check out the covers for the Facebook pages you already like, well-known brands, and your competitors. Can you create something equally effective–or even better? The best covers tend to focus on image rather than words. Although having a consistent cover photo is good for branding purposes, also consider changing your cover once in a while to mix things up or to highlight new products, services, or campaigns. In addition to creating a custom design for your cover, you can use an existing photo or clip art if you're both budget- and design-challenged.

2. Choose a Profile Picture that Becomes the "Face" of Your Business

Your page's profile picture displays in the left corner just below your cover image (refer to Figure 1). This is the picture Facebook uses as a thumbnail for anything you post to your page, in the news feed, and in ads. The default size for this picture is 180 x 180 pixels, but it's reduced to 32 x 32 pixels when used as a thumbnail. If your page represents a larger corporation or organization, your logo is a good choice for your profile picture. If your page is for an individual person or a small business, using a picture of the business owner is a better way to personalize it.

3. Optimize Your About Box

Your Facebook page's About box displays below your profile picture. You have up to 150 characters to convey the essence of your page in this section, so every word counts. Again, this text shouldn't come across as a blatant advertisement, but you should let visitors know what you have to offer and how to reach you, particularly if your business isn't a recognized name. If you want to encourage people to visit your website, include your site URL at the end of this section (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 Including a link in your About box encourages links to your website.

4. Choose Custom Apps that Reflect Your Brand and Page Goals

To the right of your About box, Facebook displays your views and apps (refer to Figure 2). This section replaces the list of tabs that appeared on the left side of the page with Facebook's old design. Any previous apps you installed or tabs you created (including a custom landing tab) are now apps that display in this section.

By default, Facebook displays four apps above the fold: Photos, Likes, and two apps that you've installed. Click the down arrow on the right side of this section to view any additional apps (Facebook allows a total of 12).

There are three types of apps you can add to your page:

  • Facebook's own apps for videos, notes, and events. Click the plus sign (+) in the upper-right corner of an empty app to choose one of these options from the menu (see Figure 3).
  • Figure 3 Quickly add one of Facebook's apps to your page.

  • Third-party apps that perform a specific function. Many third-party developers also offer quality apps for your Facebook page, both free and fee-based. You can add apps that display your Twitter tweets, blog feed, YouTube videos, contest details, coupons, a newsletter signup form, polls, a Facebook store, and more. Some app developers to check out include Involver, Wildfire, Tabsite, NorthSocial, Pagemodo, and Payvment.
  • Third-party apps that enable you to post your own custom content. For example, you could post a welcome message, promote an upcoming event or product launch, offer free tips, and more. Apps that let you post your own custom content include Involver's Static HTML, Tabsite, and Wildfire's iFrame App for Facebook.
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