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Timeline Time: A guide to the new Facebook Pages for nonprofits

Overview of new Facebook Timelines
The new design
The new Facebook Pages now look like the Facebook’s timeline profiles. Pages now have a cover photo, and the wall has been replaced with a timeline with two columns. For a complete overview of the new features please take a look at Facebook’s very helpful Pages Product Guide (attached).
The new design will require you to create new assets or edit existing ones. Here are some design elements you may want to consider right away.
Cover Photo – The cover photo is a great opportunity to grab your audience’s attention. Although be aware that there are some guidelines for cover photos. Photos can’t be text driven, or promote specific items. You can find all the guidelines on page 8 of the product guide.
Some nonprofits already had a strategy with cover photos before the new pages launched by offering covers for their fans. This could be a great way for your audience to show their support. You may want to create a whole album of cover photos to highlight each of your initiatives and encourage fans to use them on their own timeline.
Profile Image – The profile image now displays best as a square with a minimum requirement of 180 x 180 px. If you have a profile image with additional branding (i.e. tagline or website) you may have to make some tweaks so it displays properly.
Tabs – The tab feature has gone through a few changes. Tabs are now referred to as Page Apps and can be adjusted to either the traditional narrow format at 520px or the wide format at 812px. With more real estate you could develop apps that look similar to full web sites.
Depending on what apps you used to create tabs you may experience some display issues. We noticed that some tabs align left while others are aligned to the center of the page.  You may want to review and make edits before making the switch to the new pages.
In the new pages format you’re still able to link to a specific tab. However, in the edit page settings you are no longer able to designate a specific tab to land on. If you have a tab with a fan-gate it works a little differently.  Once you a user ‘likes’ the page, it doesn’t automatically load the new content. The user has to navigate to the exclusive content. This may be a bug that will be fixed in the future, but the experience has been consistent for us while researching several pages.
Tell your story
The new Facebook pages allow you to tell the story of your organization in a variety of ways past and present.
The ‘Milestones’ feature is a great way to showcase your organization’s history and successes. You may want to pull together a collection of photos to accompany your milestones. Visual posts are twice as likely to get noticed.
The ‘Highlight’ feature allows you to make a post span across both columns.  This could be a great tool for big announcements. This feature also works well with videos. Videos are enlarged, making them front and center.
Make sure your most important initiatives are noticed! The new ‘Pin’ feature keeps a post at the top of the page for up to 7 days. This feature could come in handy if you have a petition near completion or in event of an emergency.
Making the switch
Think of a strategy before you switch. The new pages are very visual, similar to a magazine. You may want to gather photos and videos beforehand and consider how to feature each asset.
Once you’ve made the switch you may also want to go through your timeline and review your posts. Make sure your best posts are prominently featured, and remove anything undesired.
Don’t forget, Facebook will switch the all page profiles to the new format on March 30, 2012.
The new pages are an exciting next step in the evolution of Facebook. Not only will they help your organization tell its story in a more compelling and visual way, it provides tools to monitor and engage your audience. We look forward to seeing how nonprofits use the new features and use them to inspire change. Good luck!

Last Wednesday you may have logged onto your organization’s Facebook page and saw it. The official notice from Facebook letting you know your page is going to get a new look! So many questions swam through my mind. What are the new features? What do I have to edit? How will my tabs look?!

Once I did a bit of research, I got really excited. The new pages look great and can really tell your organization’s story in a visual and compelling way.  With so many new changes we here at the Ad Council thought it would be a good idea to put together an overview of the new pages with nonprofits in mind. OK, first things first:

The new design

The new Facebook Pages now look like the Facebook’s timeline profiles. Pages now have a cover photo, and the wall has been replaced with a timeline with two columns. For a complete overview of the new features please take a look at Facebook’s very helpful Pages Product Guide.

The new design will require you to create new assets or edit existing ones. Here are some design elements you may want to consider right away.

Cover Photo – The cover photo is a great opportunity to grab your audience’s attention. Although be aware that there are some guidelines for cover photos. For example, photos can’t be text driven or promote specific items. You can find all the guidelines on page 8 of the product guide.

Some nonprofits like Amnesty International have already switched to the new Facebook Pages.

Amnesty International has already switched to the new Facebook Pages.

Some nonprofits already had a strategy with cover photos before the new pages launched by offering covers for their fans. This could be a great way for your audience to show their support. You may want to create a whole album of cover photos to highlight each of your initiatives and encourage fans to use them on their own timeline.

Profile Image – The profile image now displays best as a square with a minimum requirement of 180 x 180 px. If you have a profile image with additional branding (i.e. tagline or website) you may have to make some tweaks so it displays properly.

Tabs – The tab feature has gone through a few changes. Tabs are now referred to as Page Apps and can be adjusted to either the traditional narrow format at 520px or the wide format at 812px. With more real estate you could develop apps that look similar to full web sites.

Depending on what apps you used to create tabs you may experience some display issues. We noticed that some tabs align left while others are aligned to the center of the page.  You may want to review and make edits before making the switch to the new pages.

In the new pages format you’re still able to link to a specific tab. However, in the edit page settings you are no longer able to designate a specific tab to land on. If you have a tab with a fan-gate it works a little differently.  Once a user ‘likes’ the page, it doesn’t automatically load the new content. The user has to navigate to the exclusive content. This may be a bug that will be fixed in the future, but the experience has been consistent for us while researching several pages.

Tell your story

The new Facebook pages allow you to tell the story of your organization in a variety of ways past and present.

The ‘Milestones’ feature is a great way to showcase your organization’s history and successes. You may want to pull together a collection of photos to accompany your milestones. Visual posts are twice as likely to get noticed.

The ‘Highlight’ feature allows you to make a post span across both columns.  This could be a great tool for big announcements. This feature also works well with videos. Videos are enlarged, making them front and center.

Make sure your most important initiatives are noticed! The new ‘Pin’ feature keeps a post at the top of the page for up to 7 days. This feature could come in handy if you have a petition near completion or in event of an emergency.

Making the switch

Think of a strategy before you switch. The new pages are very visual, similar to a magazine. You may want to gather photos and videos beforehand and consider how to feature each asset.

Do some research. Some nonprofits have already made the switch. Note how they’re using the new features to tell their story. Take a look and get inspired!

Once you’ve made the switch you may also want to go through your timeline and review your posts. Make sure your best posts are prominently featured, and remove anything undesired.

Don’t forget, Facebook will switch all page profiles to the new format on March 30, 2012.

The new pages are an exciting next step in the evolution of Facebook. Not only will they help your organization tell its story, it provides tools to monitor and engage your audience. We look forward to seeing how nonprofits use the new features and use them to inspire change. Good luck!

Jenner Pascua
Written by Jenner Pascua

Jenner Pascua joined the Ad Council in 2012. He comes to the Ad Council with experience in marketing promotions and web design. Before joining the Ad Council he worked at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF as well as the radio and animation industries. Mr. Pascua is responsible for the community management of the Ad Council's social media properties, website production, graphic design, and other interactive projects. He graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a BA in Communication Studies. He currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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