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February 29, 2012

Timeline for Facebook Pages : A Complete Overview

Facebook today unveils Timeline for pages — a combination of design elements and moderation features that give organizations the controls they need to maintain an effective presence on the social network.

The redesign, the largest for pages since February 2011, creates a more unified look and feel for the site after profiles and groups were updated earlier this year. Page owners will have a 30-day window to redesign their pages and publish when they are ready. On March 31, all pages will automatically switch to the new format.

The layout featuring a cover photo and larger stories in an easy to navigate chronology is similar to Timeline for personal profiles. What differs is the ability to pin a post to the top of a page and a friend activity box that makes pages more relevant to each user. Page tabs still function, but there is no longer an option to set a third-party tab as default. A new admin panel, activity log and direct message feature will help page owners manage their communities.

We had a chance to preview the new pages and will review key features below.

Cover Photo

In lieu of a unique landing tab, pages have a 851×351 pixel photo to convey a brand message. However, Facebook wants to keep cover photos from looking like banner ads so images cannot include price or purchase information, contact info, calls to action or references to Facebook features such as Like or Share. Page owners might be frustrated by this but we can see why Facebook would do it. Most users won’t understand what aspects of a page are done by third-parties versus done by Facebook. If pages use cover photos like advertisements, many users could confuse them for actual ads and get frustrated with the social network.


Page owners can now add milestones and choose to feature posts larger than others, similar to what users can do with life events on Timeline (see image below). Pages can also hide individual posts without deleting them. This allows pages to display only its most engaging posts without losing important data.
Another new feature is one page owners have long asked for: the option to pin an important post to the top of the page. Pinned posts can stay for up to seven days. Unlike on Twitter, pinned posts are available to all page, not just premium advertisers.

Admin Panel

A new management tool appears at the top of pages a person has admin rights to. It gives a snapshot of insights, people who recently Liked the page, fan activity notifications and a message inbox. Similar to a feature we saw tested in December 2011, pages can now accept direct messages from users. This allows customer service issues and other sensitive matters to be discussed privately instead of on the wall. Pages cannot initiate direct messages with fans.
The admin panel also includes Help Center items like “Request a name change for your page,” prompts to create ads and other tips for page owners.

Activity Log

Like on personal profiles, the activity log is useful for finding and editing old posts. Admins can sort items by year or type of story. The activity log is only visible to users who have admin rights to the page. From screenshots we’ve seen, insights for each post are not shown in the activity log, but this would be a helpful addition.


Page tab apps continue to function, but instead of listing apps down the left side of the page, apps are available on the right beneath the cover photo. Fewer tabs can be highlighted above a “See more” option, but all apps benefit from larger thumbnails. App images are 111×74 pixels instead of 16×16 pixel favicons like they were previously. Apps themselves can now be up to 810 pixels wide. They render on a new page underneath a header with a link back to the page, a drop-down menu with other tabs and a Like button if users don’t already.
Facebook will not allow default landing tabs like before. The company recommends pages pin a post that links to a particular tab. According to cover photo guidelines, pages cannot add images that use arrows or text to direct people to visit tabs or take particular actions. The social network seems to be waning pages off of tab applications. The vision for the platform is for Facebook to be integrated into third-party websites and mobile apps, not to have applications running within page frames. But since many companies already invested in developing applications for their pages, the social network could not simply get rid of them at this stage.

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