Hot damn! A new Facebook change that was met with equal parts resistance and praise! It’s not like that’s ever happened before...
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Facebook rolled out Timeline for Pages a few weeks ago (it will become mandatory for all brands at the end of March). Like most changes on Facebook, it was met with immediate disdain and calls for heads to roll. I too found myself caught up in the angry mob mentality of, “It wasn’t broke, why’d you fix it!”
...and then I stopped, and I took a deep breath, and I researched, and I loved.
Oh how I loved.
Timeline for Pages is EXACTLY what brands need for their Facebook page. Facebook has been, and always will be, an engagement platform. This is just a fancy way of saying that Facebook is a place where a brand can “hang out” with their customers. Through Facebook, brands can offer value by interacting with their audience, humanizing and giving a voice to what might otherwise be a big faceless corporation.
I could talk for days on how to best use all of the new Facebook Timeline for Pages features, how you can sponsor each post to create a viral status update, or even explain what the heck a “reach campaign” is.
For this blog post though, I’m just going to focus on one of the more visual timeline features: the cover photo. You know the cover photo, it’s that big piece of real estate (850 x 315) that sits on top of your brand page.
This space is more than just a canvas for a pretty picture. It’s the very first thing a user sees on your Facebook page. The first thing that will cause a potential “Liker” to choose between hitting the thumbs up button or the browser’s back button.
Before I talk about what you can do with that space, let’s mention a few things you can’t do with this space. You can’t use the cover photo for price information, promotions or calls to action (such as "Like" or "Share").
Now here’s what you can (and should) use that space for:
Promote your brand’s lifestyle.
What better way to help potential fans connect emotionally with your organization than by embodying the lifestyle and personality of your brand. Are you a rum company? Show people having fun at a bar, laughing, smiling, full of energy - bad decisions just waiting to happen. You’re not selling rum, you’re selling fun and adventure! Use your cover photo to set the tone and let viewers know who you are and what you’re all about at a glance.
Promote your brand’s newest product
Just because you can’t use your cover photo for price or promotional information doesn’t mean you can’t use it to sell. New product lines, new service offerings, specific awesome products that your community needs to know about, all have a place on your cover photo. Sure you can’t put a price next to it, or link the picture to any external sites, but who cares, you don’t need either of those messages to begin to market a new product. Begin building awareness and fostering curiosity without having to pay for advertising.
Promote your team
Corporations are not people. But they are run by people and a lot of times those people are super passionate about the products and services you offer. Humanize your brand by showing off all the people that make your company great. These could be key individuals on the hourly level, your senior leadership team, or high-profile individuals. For fans, it’s a chance to see and connect with the people that actually have a hand in creating the products and services they love. Plus, it’s a simple way for organizations to recognize employees and share their enthusiasm.
Promote your fans
Everyone says that they have amazing fans, why not do something that shows that you appreciate every Like and comment? Why not give them top billing on your Facebook page? From a fan's point of view it's a priceless experience. They receive immediate exposure, you receive third party credibility and create an emotional connection to your fan base. It's win-win. You can identify these fans in a couple ways, inviting fans that are most involved on your page, running a contest or asking for nominations.
So what’s the best strategy for your brand? It depends on your goals, your brand and your community. If you’re not sure what will work or where to begin, start by mixing and matching. The most important you need to do is make sure you keep the content fresh, relevant, engaging and true to your brand.
Looking for a little inspiration? Check out the seven timeline photos below and guess what angle each brand is taking with their cover photo. Leave your thoughts in the comments. And while you’re at it, tell us how your brand is planning on using the cover photo.