This Friday, March 30, Facebook will move all company pages to its new “Timeline” format. For nonprofits, this means a more flexible interface that allows you to better showcase your impact and tell your story.
The new timeline format is much more visual, so your photos of activities, beneficiaries, events and campaign images will now be your biggest asset. If you don’t have a great archive of high quality photos and images about your work, it’s time to start building it.
What is Changing?
The downside of the new timeline format is that we can no longer create custom landing pages. But the new functionality more than compensates for this by giving you more tools to highlight the events, advocacy campaigns, testimonies and other news you find important for your constituents.
Let’s take a look at the new functionality from top to bottom:
(1) Cover photo. The new visual format starts with a ‘cover’ image that displays at 850px by 350px. This is a great place to highlight your best beneficiary photo for a stellar first impression. (To edit, just hover over the photo and select ‘change cover’- you can use an existing photo or upload a new one).
(2) Profile picture. Your profile picture (that appears on your fans’ news feeds) is now superimposed over the cover photo. It requires that you use a cleaner image (in other words, don’t just upload your logo and be content with it being cut off—that looked bad enough before but will now look much worse!). The image display as a perfect square – 180px by 180px. Do take the time to select a fun image or carefully crop your logo to the right dimensions. And of course, make sure it works well with your cover photo.
(3) Photos and apps. The new timeline now gives much-deserved prominence to your photos and apps, moving them from a small subtle link on the left to a larger and more prominent position under your cover photo. Now you can upload custom images for each ‘app’ and easily rearrange the order they display, to highlight your most engaging programs or features.
- Photos. Given the prominence your photos now get (they will always appear as the first item in this section – this is the only item whose position you cannot change) – you definitely want to make sure you’ve got an interesting photo displaying here.
- Apps. Everything from your ‘Likes’ (fans) to events to maps to other custom pages are consider ‘Apps’ and can be moved around to position what you feel is most important here.
- Change order. To rearrange or add views, click the pencil icon in the top corner of the view or app. Select the other view/app you’d like to switch positions with, and it’s done.
- Change image. You can change the image associated with any of your apps, just go to the ‘Admin Panel’ à ‘Manage’ à ‘Edit Page’ à ‘Apps’ à select the ‘Edit Settings’ link under the app you want to add an image to, select ‘Change’ the image and upload the new image. You can also change the name of the app as it displays on your page.
(4) Highlight Content. You can highlight content in two ways on your page.
- Star. By hovering over any post of interest and clicking the star icon, you can give it such prominence that it expands to cover the width of the page You can undo this just as easily by clicking the star again. You can star any post on your page (including posts by other people) which makes this an excellent tool for highlighting engagement on your page. We recommend using it regularly.
- Pin to Top. This is a great way to highlight upcoming events, advocacy campaigns or other issues that are critical for a short period of time. When you pin something to the top of your timeline it will stay for 7 days. To pin a post, just hover over it, click the pencil icon, and select ‘pin to top’.
(5) Tell Your Story. Timeline allows you to tell the broader story of your organization in chronological order. We recommend using these features to let fans better understand your organization – when were you founded? When did you add a major new project or service? When did you meet a key milestone like reaching your first 1,000 fans? The tools you have to use are:
- Milestones. Add key milestones to your timeline by simply clicking the last icon near where you post status updates. This milestone icon allows you to add the milestone event, location, date, description and upload associated photos.
- Changing Dates. You can now change the date of your post by clicking the pencil icon in the upper right corner, select “change date”, set the new date and save.
- Hiding/Deleting Posts. This isn’t a new feature, but becomes much more important with the new timeline layout, as fans are more likely to look back in time at past posts. To hide a post, hover over it and click the pencil icon and then select ‘hide from view’. This will hide from view of fans or visitors, but you will still get the engagement statistics in your Insights. You can also delete a post in the same way, but that will remove the post from your Insights.
(6) Admin Panel. Moving back up to the top of the page, you now have some new administrative tools to help manage your page. The admin panel now shows your notifications, messages, new likes and insights as a dashboard, making it easier to check in and manage your presence. Visitors to your page don’t see this. If you want to view your page as they do, just hide it.
(7) Direct Messaging. People can now send private messages to your organization. All messages will show up in the top right corner for you to respond to. You can now have one-on-one conversations with your top fans, or even with other organization page administrators.
(8) Activity Log. This handy new feature shows a complete list of posts to your timeline, including ones you’ve hidden. You can now easily edit your content at once, and hide/unhide/star etc directly from the activity log.
Ultimately we think these changes are all for the better, giving nonprofits a much more engaging and visually appealing platform to build community. At a glance, a potential fan or donor can now get an even better feel for what you do, who you serve and what type of community they can participate in.
Is your organization ready for the switch?