Will You “Like” Facebook’s Timeline Redesigns for 2013?

New redesigns on Facebook reinforce the importance of smart content marketing as a powerful promotional tool for your brand.

I have to say, when Facebook first announced it was converting all brand pages to its Timeline format, I was skeptical. And a bit irritated. As a digital agency that has spent the past few years consulting and designing custom avatars and default tabs, this was a blow to our fragile, young self-esteem. But I digress.

Fast forward a year, and I have admit there have been some pretty clever uses for the “Cover Image” and “Profile Pic,” terms that are now commonplace not only on Facebook, but Google+, LinkedIn and most recently, Twitter as well (i.e. ALL social media marketing platforms). Today, the 810-pixel wide cover spans the entire width of Facebook's Wall, making it prime real estate to capture the personality, essence and culture of your brand. You can showcase key products or humanize your company with compelling imagery. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words (or for businesses, slogans). Custom covers provide a chance for you to make a strong first impression and pull people in.

Nestled in the left corner of the cover photo is the traditional profile picture. If you have a snazzy cover photo, then the profile picture is a great spot for your company’s logo. This is the thumbnail image that will accompany the brand’s comments and posts, so it should clearly define your brand — even when the image is smaller than 50 pixels in the Newsfeed. Brands have also been creative in aligning the juxtaposition between cover and profile, just check out some examples of Adpearance’s work below:

Facebook Cover and Profile Picture for Curtis Trailers.

Facebook Cover and Profile Picture for University of Oregon School of Law.

Facebook Cover and Profile Picture for Spirit Mountain Casino.

Nowadays, there’s an app for anything you want to achieve. According to common eye-tracking studies, these apps get more visibility than everything below them on your Timeline. Apps now include native functions, such as Photos, to more than 3,000 other options to truly customize your Page. For example, if you have a casino, you can use a Promotions app or a RSVP app so fans can see your monthly specials and book a room without having to go to your website. It’s that easy! Check out this example of Spirit Mountain Casino’s “Book a Room” page:

Spirit Mountain Casino "Book A Room" Application on Facebook.

Not surprisingly, the social platform that has perpetually been in beta state isn’t done. Ready or not, more changes are coming to your Personal Timeline, and eventually, your Brand Pages as well. To Facebook, content (and UX) is still king, and to make it easier, it’s revamping the layout to make it cleaner and easier to navigate and find user-generated content. The initial rollout, currently on a trial run in New Zealand, applies to Personal Timelines only at this time, but if the past is any indication, Brand Pages will soon follow the same format. Here are some of the new changes coming our way:

Posts appear in a single column on the left instead of randomly split into two columns.
Simple in-line tabs for “About” info instead of thumbnail boxes at the top.
New “Collections Manager” allows you to drag and reorder your collections around in the right-hand column.
Subscribers are now called “followers.” Subscribers/followers are different than friends, and no changes to friends are apparent at this time.
Names appear in white over the bottom left of the cover photo. Depending on the kind of image you have, the white type could prove difficult to read.
The takeaway is this: style gives way to substance. Although Facebook’s continuous changes may be overwhelming to follow, the goal remains the same—for companies to engage more earnestly and intimately with their audiences with authentic, timely and useful exchanges between brands and their fans. The true objective for brands is to get their updates to show up on users’ own walls, in their personal news feeds right next to vacation photo albums and funny cat videos. This is where people actually spend time on Facebook and where messages have greatest impact and credibility for engagement. Really, Facebook Pages are the new small business website, if managed correctly. At the end of the day, smart content marketing with copy and images that you choose to highlight are a far more powerful promotional tool for your brand.