Facebook seems to be the tool that social media marketers can’t live without – and love to complain about. From promoted posts and EdgeRank, to Timeline, 2012 was the year when many people took exception to some of Facebook’s changes.
Over time, however, many marketers have come to love some of this year’s Facebook changes – even Timeline. Here are five Facebook tools that marketers need to seriously consider now, or risk being left behind as your competitors adopt them.
Make Your Cover Photo Sizzle
The large 851 x 315 pixel cover photo on your Facebook page can become a valuable part of your social media marketing plan. Why? Because it’s located at the top of your Timeline, overlapping with your profile picture, above any tabs. So it’s the first thing visitors see when they click on your page.
Also, if you don’t upload a cover photo, users will see a blue shaded area where they are coming to expect a photo. You don’t need a fancy photo. It can be a photo you shot yourself at an event, a product, or almost anything that works. A coffee cup with your company’s logo on it, or a photo taken at a trade show, or a photo of your building will all work.
Last, but not least, every time you update your cover photo, all of your friends and subscribers/fans get a short notice. Pro Tip: When you add a cover photo, take the opportunity to update your profile picture, too, especially if you use a company logo as your profile photo. Facebook changed the sizes for profile photos this year when it added cover photos – so make sure your profile picture is properly sized. Here are the new sizes, in pixels:
- Profile picture: 180 x 180
- Thumbnail image for apps: 111 x 74
- Highlighted & milestone images: 843 x 403
- Images within wall posts display as 404 x 404
Pin Important Events to the Top
One of the things about Timeline that marketers like best is the ability to pin something to the top of the page for up to 7 days. This really helps when you have an event to promote (webinars, trade shows, contest deadlines, new product launches, etc.).
It’s fast, easy, and free to pin a post to the upper left hand corner of your brand’s Facebook Timeline. Facebook has a video tutorial on pinned posts that you can view here.
Note: A pinned post is not the same thing as a promoted post. Pinned posts are simply regular posts that you want to leave at the top of Timeline for a week, while promoted posts are paid posts similar to sponsored stories. Pinned posts are free. Promoted posts cost between $5 and several hundred dollars, depending on your reach and audience. Both may be useful tools for specific purposes.
How do you know whether to pin something to the top of your page or not?
- Is it important to your brand/company? (That is, a message you want to make sure your audience doesn’t miss?)
- Will the information still be relevant in 7 days?
- Are you getting good conversion or click-through rates on it on the first day?
After seven days, the post will fall back to its appropriate date on the Timeline unless you remove the pin sooner.
Pro Tip: When you’re exploring the “Pin to Top” feature, take a look at the ability to highlight a photo album, video, or status update. Highlighting allows you to select a post or image and expand it to the entire width of your timeline.
Use Milestones to Highlight Products or Events
When Facebook launched Timeline, the company envisioned a time when pages would have a right-hand column that presented a visual history of the important steps in a person or brand’s history.
But companies can control the milestones that show up on Timeline. Careful planning can fill your timeline with events like these – and even link to downloadable collateral, videos, or product pages off of Facebook.
- Product launches
- Corporate leadership changes (new hires, new advisory or board of directors members)
- Speaking engagements / key presentations
- Office moves or changes
Facebook’s tutorial on creating milestones for your brand or company page is online here.
Pro Tip: Unless you’re creating a new Facebook page for a brand or company that’s never had one before, don’t add all of your milestones at once. Newly added “milestones” go out as new posts to everyone who “likes” your page’s newsfeed, so adding 20 years’ worth of company milestones in a single day would create a lot of spam in your fans’ newsfeed!
Don’t Forget the “About” Section
You can’t use your cover photo for a current promotion – but there’s no prohibition against using the “About” section for a current promotion. So this 160-character bit of “prime real estate” is a valuable place you can (and should) update regularly.
The “About” section is restricted to 160 characters, so write succinctly, or it will get cut off. Yes, users can click on the word “About” underneath the 160-character section on your company or brand page. When they do, they’ll see the company mission statement, overview, and a more detailed company description, so don’t forget to fill out these fields when you’re setting up your page or optimizing it for Timeline.
Unless your page is used as a Place or Local Business (which will automatically default to fill your “About” section with location information, phone number, and so on), you can add a URL that links to a current promotion or download to this section.
Use Third-Party Tools
One thing that Facebook did during 2012 that nearly every marketer loves is to open up its platform to more free or very low cost tools that help page managers improve the way they manage, monitor, and report on their Facebook brand pages.
For instance, there are tools that use predictive algorithms to help you post at the time when most of your audience is online, monitor what people are saying about your brand, company, or executives on other pages, and create the kind of reports on your Facebook results that will have the CEO and CFO smiling.
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