Facebook's new 'Timeline' look

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As you probably already know, Facebook has introduced their new ‘Timeline’ look. At first, it was just popping up on different friends profile pages and I didn’t really pay it any mind. But last week they started to introduce that same look to Pages. So I paid it some mind. At the moment, you can still keep the old Pages look, but on March 30th the ‘Timeline’ look will be forced on all Pages. So whether you like the change or not, there is no avoiding it.

Like a lot of people, my original feeling was “just leave it how it is”. I wasn’t a huge fan of how Facebook Pages looked, but I had a good grasp of how they worked and looked, and I was fine with it. After playing around with the new look for a bit… I think it will be an improvement (once we all get used to how it works and looks, I don't think the learning curve will be too steep to climb). Of course, I imagine there will be a bunch of 'Petition Facebook To Go Back To The Old Pages Look' groups springing up, but I think your time will be best spent adapting. So this post is an attempt to help you get your page setup and ready for the new look with a focus on a few of the important things:

1. Cover Photo - This is the big photo that will now be at the top of your page. I like this change. The look of Facebook pages has always been the opposite of visually appealing, so this is a nice touch. The important thing you need to know about the cover photo is the dimensions of the picture, and those are 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels high. With the right picture for your band, your Facebook page increases in sexiness tenfold. So find a picture that you think best represents you and crop it to the right size. You can see what we've done on our page, and you can also check out what we've done so far on Patrick Porters and A Singer of Songs page (we're still in the process of getting fully setup, as well as other artists setup). Personally, I don't see how anyone can look at those new 'timeline' looks and compare them to the old looks and say that it is not an improvement.

2. Apps - These are now shown at the top of your page, as opposed to down the left hand side. The other big change is that you can only show 3 main ones (you always have to show the ‘Photos’ app) and the rest of your apps are now 'hidden' under a drop down menu. They have also removed the option of choosing an app to be your default landing page (which, a lot of bands would normally of had set to have people automatically land on their BandPage or Bandcamp). At first, I didn’t like this at all, as the option of listening to ones music lives away from your wall (or 'timeline' as it is known now). It is kind of annoying that people now have to do a little exploring before they can find where to listen to music, but I suspect this is something that we'll all just get used to.

What I imagine Facebook is creating is a way to turn your Facebook page into something that works a bit like your own website, and apps are now acting like the different menu options a website would have. At the moment, the makers of these apps have not had time to update / implement changes that are specifically designed for the new 'timeline' look (i.e. there is a lot of white / wasted space in the tabs at the moment, as they were originally created for a width of 520 px and not 851). But when they do, I think it might be able to look / work quite nice… but you’ll definitely need to be selective with your apps and make sure you’re using the best ones. BandPage and Bandcamp are still tops on my list and I eagerly await them to adapt their Apps to better suit the new layout, as right now they don’t look right on the wider page.

I'm still not decided on who my 'number three' app will be, but for now, I've gone with something to show our tweets (at the moment, I use Tweets To Pages for that). If you are band that plays gigs, I would reccomend checking out Songkick's app. The main reason for this is — as there are more than a few options for sharing your gigs — Songkick also works with Bandcamp, Soundcloud and BandPage, so by adding a gig date once, you can have it show up automatically in all those other places.

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To make up for the loss of being able to set an app as your default landing page, Facebook has at least added the nice touch of being able to create custom pictures to represent the apps (and you can name them however you like). So instead of having your app named BandPage and showing the Roots Music logo (which may be recognizable to you… it might not be that obvious to other people as to why they should click it), you can call it something like Music Player and use a picture that more intuitively tells someone that there is music to be listened to there. The image size for these ‘app pictures’ is 115 pixels wide by 74 pixels high (so, pretty small; don't use something that requires too much detail). To make those changes you just click on the drop down arrow to the right of your 'top' apps, which will then show all of your apps. When in this mode, hovering your mouse over an app will show a ‘pencil icon’ on the top right corner of each app. Click that and then just choose ‘Edit Settings’. I’ve done it for our current top 3 apps, and I think it looks a lot nicer than the original images that were shown.

3. Let's get visual, visual - The new look is definitely geared around being more visually pleasing. This is especially noticeable with the new option of ‘highlighting’ a post. When you click the ‘star icon’ on the right corner of a wall post, it makes that post stretch the full width of the screen. It works really well if you have a nice picture or video posted to your wall and really makes it stand out. Which means you should probably start thinking about posting more nice pictures and videos.

4. Use it differently - The main thing that this new look will force upon you (besides the look itself) is how you use Facebook. This will mostly come with time, but here are a few things that come to mind:

  • Change your 'About' section so that it is only a sentence or two, or rather, so that you have room to add a link to wherever you would most ideally want someone to go to. For us, I've put our website link. For you, it may be your Bandcamp page, or just the link to that app you would have preferred to be your landing page (i.e. like the 'listen.to' link for your Roots Music BandPage). You can't count on people to actually go into your 'About' section and find your website link, so make it available from the moment they arrive on your page.
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  • You can now pin a post to the top of your timeline, and it will stay there for 7 days. Meaning, if you have a gig that week or a new album out or a new video, you can have that be the first thing people see when they arrive on your Facebook for 7 days, which is a good thing.
  • You may not be able to set your BandPage or Bandcamp app as your defaul landing page anymore, but that doesn't mean that you can't be posting tracks from either directly on your 'timeline'. And those tracks play directly within your 'timeline', so you can still get people listening to your music without a default landing page, you might just need to be a bit more proactive about it instead of assuming that they are just automatically showing up on a page with a music player and pressing play. Also, it's important to remember that a lot of people will be interacting with you on Facebook directly from their newsfeed. So maybe a default landing page just gave bands a false idea of how much people were being exposed to their music. Anybody showing up to your Facebook page for the first time is probably coming there because they want to check you out, so I think they'll be able to find your music (especially if you have tracks on your 'timeline' as well as in your BandPage and Bandcamp apps).

Well, that is about all for now. There is definitely more that could be talked about — things like 'Milestones' and going back and documenting your bands entire existence— but I think that the above stuff is enough to get you prepared for when your pages look will change at the end of the month (also, I haven't done any of that other stuff yet). If you want to know more, or do more homework on the matter, some other people have posted on the new 'timeline' look and they were what I referred to when getting our page setup (those articels: Roots Music slide show and Hubspot's Guide to Facebook's New Page Design).

But I think the main thing you need to do is just start using and getting used to it. And you should also 'like' us on Facebook.

John Prine And A Jehova's Witness

Song + Story - Shine by A Singer of Songs