Why Facebook timeline will be good for business

Facebook will change its business pages to the timeline layout on March 30, but what does it mean for small businesses?
For many, it’s just another irritating change imposed by Facebook, but it’s the most significant change to the page format to date, and it’s the first time it can really be considered a positive move for brands.
The most significant, and most visible, change is the introduction of the ‘cover image’, a full-width banner that spans the page and allows businesses an opportunity to personalise, or ‘brand’, their Facebook page.
Facebook branding dominated the previous page layout, and there was little that could be done to break away from that.
The cover image offers businesses a blank canvas in the most important part of the page to strike home their core message, or offer an emotional draw that the previous rendition couldn’t.
But it’s not just about the branding. Important though it is, branding is getting so much press that it is obscuring some of the other equally important facets of a business, such as customer service and marketing.
But I’m pleased to see that the timeline layout has addressed those too.

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The new Message button allows customers to contact you directly from the page
Perhaps the most important new ‘function’ is the Message button. This means that customers and potential customers can contact a business directly from the Facebook page. Previously, you couldn’t do this, and while it means it could potentially pull statistics from your website, being able to ‘capture’ customers at the earliest possible stage, will have definite benefits.
Another major feature is being able to pin messages to the top of the timeline. Perhaps cashing in on the buzzword ‘pin it’, it nevertheless holds value for businesses to be able to keep their important messages from dropping off the page.
And then there’s the timeline concept itself. Being able to put your activity into a cohesive chronological order, will be good for your business image. Customers can get a sneek peak at your business’s ‘background’. Businesses which have been around on Facebook for a while will have a good timeline archive.
But all these features have the potential to work against you if you don’t use them properly. A poorly thought out cover image, an irregular timeline, or unanswered messages goes against the very reason for using social networks in the first place.
So, before shunning the changes, have a think how they can benefit your business and harness them. Facebook has given us a platform to map our business’s history and future in one simple page. Are you going to use it?
For tips, see The new Facebook page timeline