Our last post focused on facebook’s new changes to the timeline format.I hope you had fun switching your Facebook business page over to this new look!   In this post, we’ll take a look at some more details about these changes.

As a reminder, visitors to your Facebook page now have new “Branding Assets”, including a larger cover photo and customizable “tabs” for apps.  Many businesses out there are testing different strategies for their cover art, such as how often to change it and what to show.  If you have a small business with a variety of products you may want to change the photo often to highlight different product groups.  Service businesses, on the other hand, may want to establish their brand look and change the photo less often.  But, remember to abide by Facebook’s recommended specs and messaging guidelines for cover art.

Those first three “apps” tabs are attracting lots of attention, too.  They are much more visible now and can have a big impact on visitors.  Take advantage of their prime real estate and use them to highlight key messages, current offers or news about your business.  You can reorder them, so make sure you have the most important ones first.

You may also want to consider re-evaluating your approach to measuring success.  Although many businesses rely on the number of “Fans” to measure their page’s success, you may want to rethink the importance of that number.  That’s because visitors no longer have to become Fans of your page to interact with it.  As a result, while you may not see big increases in the number of “Fans”, you may see increases to several other metrics, including views, comments and sharing.  And that’s what you really want to see – people engaged with your page.

You can still maintain some exclusive contact with Fans, as well.  For example, you can create “apps” tabs available only to Fans, giving them access to exclusive offers or information.

You can also take advantage of some new administrative features to make your business page more successful, including:

  • Milestones:   You may have thought the “milestones” feature was only for individuals. But it can be powerful for your small business, too.  Add business milestones that speak to your experience and credentials, such as how long you’ve been in business, major events in business growth, important associations and goals achieved.  This builds company credibility.
  • Private Messaging:  This new feature adds the ability for your page to have private conversations with users.  Regulated from the Page Administration Panel, Fans or non-Fans share comments and exchange information with you privately, rather than having all communication publicly shown on the Newsfeed.  It’s a great way to engage individual customers and answer in-depth questions without cluttering up your Timeline with responses to every inquiry publicly.  But remember that Pages cannot initiate a conversation.
  • The new format also allows you to “pin” a post at the top.  Now, your most important info won’t get pushed down below more current posts. You can “pin” a post so that it stays at the top for seven days, resulting in more views and shares.  If you include a photo or video in your post, it’ll probably be shared even more often.
  • The Page Administration Panel shows more detailed information about anyone posting on your Timeline, providing great data from which to create targeted content.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these features can help you have a bigger impact.   And remember, rather than merely counting the number of fans you have, consider spending more time studying who visits your page and creating content targeted to their interests.

Lastly, remember that using a social network is just part of your overall marketing strategy.  Use consistent messaging in all your marketing efforts, whether it’s on-line or off-line, to develop a memorable brand and reputation among customers and prospects.