Despite the outcry from its users, as you have undoubtedly heard about by now, Facebook has made changes to its platform yet again by introducing Timeline. The new chronologically driven format was released to personal profiles (individuals) in late 2011, and as of March it began to have an impact on business pages. If you are starting to feel less tech-savvy than you did before, rest assured that it's causing confusion globally. Whether you are a Facebook pro or are still trying to evaluate and navigate the ins and outs of social networking for your organization or event, the changes in look and terminology can be confusing.
Some of the Highlights of the New “Improved” Layout Include:
A large graphic (850×315 pixels) now spans the top of a page along with a smaller icon (125 × 125 pixels) such as a company or event logo. The cover art should reflect the brand of the company or the tone of the event. If the location is a big draw, then images of the destination might be appropriate for the banner image, or perhaps a montage of photos from past events might entice prospective attendees to register.
Page owners are able to list major events (including photos) at the time that they occurred. For example, the organization's founding date or the date of past meetings and events would be milestones that you might wish to highlight.
Tagging allows certain posts to be featured, a great tool to display an event that is currently being promoted. This is accomplished with the “Pin to Top” feature. This can be used to display posts like conference registration information, the announcement of new speakers, etc. While this is a handy tool, you want to continue to post fresh information to keep people interested and engaged, so feature posts wisely. You can also highlight certain posts and have them expand on the timeline to demonstrate their importance.
Customized tabs allow Facebook owners to create unique experiences and provide a wide array of information to page visitors. With the previous design, these appeared on the left side of the page and could serve as the main landing page for first-time visitors. With Timeline, customized tabs still exist, but they now appear as icons at the top of the page rather than on the side as tabs. Facebook now provides the URL of the tab so that marketing efforts drive traffic to specific information. Pages can have a maximum of 12 custom tabs, but only the first three are visible when landing on the home page. To see more, you need to click an arrow. This means that the most important tabs should be placed first so that they are most likely to be viewed. Customized tabs can be created with “freemium” (a business model by which a digital product or service is provided free of charge, but a premium is charged for advanced features, functionality, or virtual goods). Meeting organizers can use these tabs to display sponsors.
A major change to Facebook is that people can now message the page owner, creating a customer-service opportunity that didn't exist with previous versions. If you enable this feature, it is important to have someone who can respond to messages in a timely fashion.
Facebook administrators can now post information to people who speak a certain language or are in a specific country. This is useful when you have meeting attendees who come from all over the world. For example, perhaps you need to share information about visas for attendees from certain countries. This feature allows only the people who are affected to see the post.
JESSICA L. LEVIN, MBA, CMP, is president and chief connector, Seven Degrees Communications With a background in marketing, event planning, and technology, Levin has a passion for connecting people and creating experiences based on strategic goals. She uses social networking tools to build business relationships and teaches others how to embraceto create both corporate and personal brands. Her background includes experience in the professional services arena, association management, and industrial marketing.
She is president of the New Jersey Professional Marketers Association and is the digital communications chairwoman for the Association for Accounting Marketing. She is a candidate for Certified Association Executive. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @jessicalevin.
Using Facebook to the Max for Your Events
Facebook continues to be a critical channel in which to engage your audience. To maximize its effectiveness for your meeting or event, consider doing one or more of the following:
Post registration information and encourage sharing.
Share interesting information about a meeting destination and invite attendees to comment (or add interesting captions to unique photos).
Encourage speakers to create “teaser” videos that can be posted.
Post photos of past and current events and encourage people to tag themselves and their friends and to post their photos as well.
Create custom tabs to create contests, display videos, or share information that will help to create buzz about an event.
Utilize the Events feature on Facebook to list upcoming meetings and conferences.
Place live stream events throughout your Facebook page.