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Brian Cuda: Facebook changes that companies should ready for

It's all Geek to Us

Posted: March 17, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: March 17, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Business owners often use words like confusing, unintuitive and frustrating to describe the process of learning to use Facebook for business. While these terms can be accurate, I would describe Facebook as evolving. The latest chapter in Facebook’s evolution can be seen in the recent migration to the new timeline format.

By March 30, all Facebook pages and user profiles will be changing to reflect the new timeline format, which may put “frustrating” at the top of the list for business owners.

These changes affect not only the way the page looks, but also the way it functions. Here is what this means for businesses with existing Facebook pages.

The landing page is worthless
Some businesses may have hired graphic artists and programmers to create custom landing pages, designed with creative and inviting calls to action. In addition, they may have structured the page so that new visitors automatically see these calls to action the first time they visit the page. This provided a useful marketing tool for many.

Now, the landing page will still be available and even offers a wider page format, but users will no longer be directed to the page automatically. Instead, they have to search for a link or button to this page, placing it one level deeper and decreasing the likelihood that the audience will ever see it.

Introducing the cover
A cover is the large, rectangular banner at the top of the new timeline format. It is meant to serve as a sort of billboard for a brand or product. It provides a great way to reinforce the branding message, and some businesses have made creative use of this space already.

However, this format presents many limitations. The cover section is made up of a static image; therefore, it can’t include sign-up forms or videos. Facebook’s Page Terms clearly prohibit calls to action in the timeline cover. Here is the section from Facebook Pages Terms as of Feb. 29. (Source:

Covers may not include:
n price or purchase information, such as “40-percent off” or “Download it on”;

n contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address or information that should go in your page’s “About” section;

n references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or

n calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

Basically, Facebook encourages brand promotion, but not active selling.

The top of the Timeline
One of the not-so-frustrating features is that a single status update can be pinned to the top of the timeline feed. This provides a way for a quality post or message to be always visible and above the fold.

Another change for the better is that the “About” message is now prevalent at the top of the page. This gives businesses the opportunity to summarize their missions or services offered at the top of the page.

Play by the rules
Yes, it is difficult to play by the rules when the rules of the game keep changing, but Facebook is free, and you don’t have to play if you don’t want to.

Here is a quote to remember from the Facebook terms of use.

“We reserve the right to reject or remove pages for any reason. These terms are subject to change at any time.”

Not only can Facebook remove the page, it will do it without warning. Protesting is possible but will not likely be favorable for those in violation of the terms.

Communicating with Facebook’s “support team” is like trying to hold a conversation with a friend sitting 10 rows away at a rock concert. You can yell at the top of your lungs, but they won’t hear.

In summary, there are a number of changes to the way Facebook displays and interacts with business pages, and it is likely still confusing, unintuitive, and frustrating to many. Even with constant change, a Facebook page is still a great way to elicit exposure for a business.

Readers, can connect with Cuda on LinkedIn at Readers can submit questions to: Brian Cuda is co-founder of Conceptinet, a website design, development, hosting, social media and marketing firm located in Santa Clarita and can be reached at 661-338-0830 Cuda’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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