[Update 1st March]
Facebook rolled out Timeline for brands on a preview basis on 29th February, with a mandatory switchover from Pages to Timeline on 30th March. Check out our video demo below with tips on how to make the most of the new format :
The arrival of Facebook Timeline for brands has been very on and off, but it looks like it will finally arrive at the end of this month, to coincide with a Facebook marketing event in New York on February 29th. As with any changes Facebook makes for brands, you're unlikely to get much warning before the switchover and may find yourself adjusting to the changes as you go, while all your fans can see what's happening.
Many brands were affected by the switch to https connections to apps for example, or the pixel width of tabs being adjusted. So while we wait for the arrival of Timeline, even though we won't know exactly what it will look like, follow some of my tips to help prepare.
Decide your timeline of events
To help ensure you can get your Timeline activity in place, it's a good idea to decide beforehand which events you would like to feature as milestones. Remember you can go right back to the inception of your company, so think about interesting events throughout the years that people would be interested in.
Make the most of Facebook functionality here. Prepare the dates and titles for events, but also include links, videos and photos you might want when these events are added. If you have this all planned in advance, you'll find that you'll spend less time chasing your tail when the big switch happens!
Get your admins in order
It's inevitable that with Facebook Pages, more and more admins get added as you go. Yet 'old' admins can often get left on the page and forgotten about. Staff can leave and agencies change yet they can still access your page. Given that Timeline is a much more complete representation of your company, it's incredibly important that you have control over who can access your page.
It's no longer just the case that they could add new posts (which you can see instantly and delete), but they could be going through your Timeline to add events or photos that you may not want people to see. Keep your admins to a minimum and decide before the switch happens who will be responsible for adding events retrospectively.
Talk to your developer
Unfortunately we've no real idea what apps will look like on Timeline, or how they will function, although we can nearly guarantee that apps that you currently have on your page will require a change to function on Timeline. This may mean adjusting apps to feature a customised action instead of just 'Like', or it could require a whole new redesign, which will mean going into the back-end of the app.
You don't want to risk having anything broken on the page, so make sure you are in touch with your developers at the time so that they have the capacity to work on your own apps when it happens.
Choose your cover photo in advance
One of the best things about Facebook Timeline is the opportunity to add a completely new look to your page with the use of an inventive cover photo. We've put together some of our ideas of how you could use this creatively, but it's a good idea to have this selected in advance.
You might want to try experimenting with a new profile or a private profile that has been transferred to Timeline to see what image you want to use. Stand out from your competitors by having this ready to go on the day and sharing it with your fans in an update to bring them to your page.
Prepare a post for fans
Depending on the type of company you are, there may be a number of ways that you are currently using your Facebook Page that your customers would expect to continue. For example, you may have a 'reviews' or 'discussion' tab set up, or you may have developed a way of communicating with customers to process queries. Unfortunately, you won't know until the switch happens (unless Facebook reveal more details in advance) whether these will still apply.
You should try to prepare as much of an update for your fans as you can, so think about the different areas you will need to notify them of, like where they'll find your contact information. It's best to be prepared for this so get your team together and go through all the ways in which you are currently using your page, so you can review and decide this when Timeline arrives.
Agree a new editorial process
The way that Timeline surfaces content is different. As on personal Timeline profiles, you have the option to decide which posts you want to feature more than others through resizing certain posts or removing others from your Timeline. As a brand page, there are going to be occasions when you will want to promote certain announcements over others, so try and agree an editorial process for this.
For example, if you're posting a competition, you will probably want to resize this so it fits across the width of your Timeline. To do this, you may want to keep this as the most recent featured post, relegating other announcements away from the Timeline (e.g: responses to individual customers). You should agree this process among all your page contributors and carry it out for all posts.
While no features of Timeline for brands has been guaranteed, the above is a good checklist to ensure you're prepared, but without dedicating too much time on preparation work that may not come to fruition.