On the 30th March the way Facebook company pages work drastically changed. This change is fundamental and your company needs to ensure you remain compliant with the updated Terms of Service from Facebook because they are not only changing how everything looks but also some of the rules about how everything works.

Typically when Facebook roll out a change in the layout or look & feel of their profiles for users, Facebook company pages (or fanpages) are usually not far behind. Most people are just now used to the new “Timeline” profiles which signals that it’s time to update company pages. Sure enough Facebook recently announced that on the 30th March all Company Pages would be updated to a Timeline styled look and feel.

Most Facebook company page owners have had access to a preview of how this new page will look but below are 3 essential things you need to know about your new Company Page.

Cover & Profile Images

This is the most immediately obvious change but along with looking different Facebook are introducing new rules about these cover photos.

To summarise, your cover photo should be an image that is 399px wide and should NOT contain:
• Price or purchase information (i.e. 40% off – download it at our website)
• Contact information for your company (that belongs in your About Section)
• Reference to any Facebook mechanisms/site features (i.e. – Click Like to…)
• Calls to action of any kind

Reading between the lines it would seem that Facebook want businesses to use the cover photo as a sort of store front for your business – you can show people what it looks like but not use that above the fold space to do any of the direct response marketing a lot of companies have been doing with their profile images.

For most business this is going to require some creative thinking to remain within the Facebook TOS whilst effectively using Facebook company pages to build your digital footprint.

Profile images will also be changed and are now going to be 180px by 180px. This image will be displayed alongside every post you make in the news feed so it should be a branded image that stands out and catches the eye.

Farewell tabs and hello applications

Don’t worry if you have a Welcome landing page setup it’s not going to be deleted, however the default landing tab no longer exists so that won’t be the first thing your visitors see when they land on your page. Again this will require some creativity to work around to ensure your visitors see the correct marketing messages.

Applications are the exact same as what were commonly referred to as tabs in previous incarnations of the Facebook page, however now you can showcase 12 apps in a grid format, but only four get prominence at the top of the page underneath the cover photo. The other 8 require your visitor to click a button to reveal them.

Customisation only extends to three of these applications as one of them is photo’s and it cannot be re-located.

According to Facebook their focus with these updates is to better enable story telling so each of your new applications should be targeted with the purpose of telling a story about an aspect of you’re your company offers.

Which brings me nicely onto the last major thing you need to know about the Facebook company page update.

Telling Stories

There are two major new features you will have access to on your Facebook company pages, and both open up all sorts of marketing possibilities. They are both connected to how you will be able to use your page to tell stories. In addition to these new features fundamentally the Timeline is different to how the wall used to be because your fan’s posts are now put in a different, meaning that the Timeline is now all about your company’s story.

The first new feature is that you can now highlight a story, picture or video that you’ve uploaded to your page so that it spans the entire width of the page. This is especially effective for photos and videos as they really pop out of the page.

To do this is simply a matter of clicking on the star in the upper right hand corner of a post you want to highlight.

You can also Pin any of the items on your pages’ Timeline to the top of your page for a week. This I’m sure will prove to be an immensely useful feature for businesses to promote specific projects or events with the use of eye catching photo’s, inforgraphics or animations.

The second major feature addition to Facebook company pages is Milestones. Milestones are a great way for you to add important events in the history of your company. Simply click on the line that goes down the middle of your Timeline (the cursor becomes a plus symbol) and the Milestone interface will pop open.

This allows you to retro-actively add items to your Timeline and I think it will prove to be a great way for companies to share their victory’s and become more personal to their audience.

This change in how Facebook company pages operate and look is a big one. There is a lot more focus now on allowing companies to tell their stories and with much more prominence put on visual elements. Of course the downside to this new opportunity is that a lot of companies will need to spend time and money updating various aspects of their pages.

What do you think of the new Facebook company pages? Are these new changes an improvement? How will they effect you?