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Facebook has been busy rolling out timelines not just for users but for brands too. You can switch over to the new timeline already (just look for a message at the top of your brand page) and it’s a good idea to take a quick peek now even if you don’t confirm the change just yet, as Facebook has made it very clear that the timeline will be compulsory for all pages, and soon – the new layout becomes mandatory at the end of this month.

Easy-to-Find, Backdated Content

So, what exactly is this new timeline? To put it simply, it is the most radical change that Facebook has made since it was first made available to the general public in 2006. The new design allows visitors to the page to easily scroll back to the beginning and find posts that you made months or even years ago.

True to its focus on all things chronological, the new timeline also allows you to post backdated content. So, even if you launched your brand a decade ago but your Facebook page six months ago, you can let your fans know all about your brand history by adding in highlights such as the company launch date, key product launches, press features and more.

Large Cover Banner

However, probably the feature with the most ‘love it or hate it’ response is the new cover photo. Gone is the large profile picture of the past, replaced by a much smaller, square image (a little like Twitter) that overlaps a large, rectangular banner across the top of the page.

Facebook’s rules are clear – no advertising, no promotions and no asking users to ‘like’ your page. (On a side note, the old landing tabs are now gone too which has caused a bit of a ruckus, as almost every brand to have one had a ‘like us now‘ call to action on theirs). Instead, the new cover image is supposed to be a representation of your brand’s personality, a pictorial summary of what makes it so special and unique. So pick out some stunning visual imagery relevant to your brand identity, as it will be the first thing people see when they land on your page.

Fan-to-Brand Private Messaging

The other key feature to point out is the new messaging system that allows fans to contact a brand directly by sending a private message from the fan page. Whilst most brands probably don’t want yet another inbox to check, new messages show up as a notification just as other page interactions do, and allow your fans to feel closer to the brand. By using this message feature to interact with them about product enquiries for example, you will be building up trust and showing that yes, there really is an actual person behind that anonymous Facebook page.

Overall, the changes are not small and are going to take some getting used to, but the idea behind them is great – creating a much more interactive, friendly feel that helps fans to really get to know and love your brand.