In just over a week from now, Facebook will switch to the much talked about Facebook Timeline.

It was first talked about in the f8 conference last year, and until as late as February this year, it was still unclear when this shift would definitely happen. But now it’s upon us. So what are the new features that Timeline brings to your brand or business?

There are so many ways to get creative with your Facebook Timeline cover.
There are so many ways to get creative with your Facebook Timeline cover.

Out with the old

The days of the Facebook welcome page are almost gone; Timeline does away with the welcome page and instead gives you the opportunity to have an 850px x 315px graphic area to display a unique, functional, or quirky side to your business or brand.

Apps have taken over from the welcome/landing pages. Before this, marketing campaigns involved a custom splash page, containing an image with an arrow pointing to the Like button asking people to “like”a page. This is no longer possible with the terms of service changes and the exclusion of welcome/landing pages.

Timeline now makes your entire profile visible from the first load and the Apps are neatly disguised as buttons under your cover image. Facebook has however included a Google+ / Twitter inspired Subscribe button, which allows people to subscribe to your page and select what content they want to see from your page in their newsfeed. This feature is what I would call Facebook’s secret weapon – subscribers can connect with anyone’s profile and read their updates as long as they have the subscribe feature added.

Facebook Timeline designsThis, along with the current newsfeed panel on the right, will give Facebook a new “Twitter” type edge. Whether it will work or not is yet to be seen.

In with the new

Anyone now has the ability to message your page, whether they are a fan or not. However, you can edit the settings for this through the Admin Panel.

You cannot initiate conversation with someone, and can only message people from your page if they have sent you a message first.

The new Applications page has a great 810px width and seemingly unlimited height; no more restrictive skinny apps. Designers can take advantage of the generous application space given to them and I, for one, can’t wait to see the great designs that come out of this new freedom.

Of course I haven’t even got to the ‘life changing’ new layout below this header section. The beautifully split content area gives itself to a flowing waterfall of posts, comments, milestones, questions’ and images, leading the viewer through a journey of discovery.

You can pin a post to the top of the Timeline and have it stay there for 7 days. Pin a post by going to the post and clicking on the pin icon, to the right of the star. This will save this particular post to the top of your page for 7 days and after the 7 days, it will go back to its original place in the Timeline.

The Time of your life

Facebook Timeline cover picture examples

You can also highlight important posts so that they span the entire length of the Timeline. To highlight a post, go to the post and hover over it ,and then click on the star. Your post will now span the entire width of the page, breaking up the timeline and giving more attention to a post you want to feature.

When you mouse over the Timeline bar in the centre of the page, you get a marker that appears, and by clicking on the timeline you can add questions to your fans (or subscribers), milestones of important facts in your business or brands life (e.g. Coca-Colas page), and even tag photos to a certain time, even if they were from 1910.

The Timeline will give brands and businesses the opportunity to educate, interact with, and engage their fans in a whole new and enlightening way. Social media agencies are going to be in a full-on strategy war over the next few months to see who can come up with the best and most interesting ways of marketing their clients’ brands and businesses on the new platform.

So if you haven’t had a look at Facebook Timeline yet, I suggest you do because from the 30th of March, it’s all you’re going to be seeing.

DigitLab Facebook Timeline cover photo
Here’s ours!