You fool. You noticed the change from a Facebook fan page to a full on Facebook Timeline, but you’ve done nothing to capitalise on the secret abilities that’ve unfurled into your lap. For shame.

Still, we can turn all that around for you, like a kind of social media version of Arnie’s character in 1996’s smash hit action nonsense Eraser. Oh, and it won’t take long. Give yourself ten minutes to read this, and about half an hour to employ our tips, and your brand’s page will be a king among Timeline paupers. Or your money back.

Ready? Set a yourself timer? Well that’s a bit weird, but if that’s how you work then fair enough. Either way, with the help of some of the best examples in the Facebook branding world, let’s improve things…

Cover me up real nice

Time: 5-55 minutes

Let’s start with the very basics: that huge gaping picture hole is job number one, because it’s the first thing that anyone sees. Waste your change to pique people’s interest, and you’ll waste your chance to soak up another ‘like’.

How to do it

There are two possible routes to Cover Photo success. One involves a designer, and is definitely the way to produce something truly involving, like this madness from Old Spice. But even if you lack the requisite design prowess, having a picture is better than no picture; even the most basic of human brains can tell what’s striking.

If you’re looking after a brand page, there’s likely at least one picture in the library you can use that’ll look suitably flashy. Try to choose a file as big as you can, as small pics will go grainier than sand. If you want to size it up perfectly, the dimensions are 851×315 pixels.

But having a vivid Facebook picture is simple. What’ll set you apart is integrating it with your profile pic. There are some amazing non-brand examples here, but it works with anything, as Fanta continues to prove with its page. Feeling fancy? There’s a brilliant guide and PSD template here:

Download:

- Facebook Cover Picture template

Mix it up

Time: 5 minutes

Having an eye-dribblingly good Cover Photo is a great step in the right direction. We’re motoring now. But if you leave one there for too long your page will seem static. What’s more, a lifeless page proeffers no reason for your fans to return. It’s like a rollercoaster, this, isn’t it?

Relax, relax; we’ve got a brilliantly simple idea for you, wrapped up and taken care of by a simply brilliant web tool.

How to do it

Whether you get into the process of changing your cover photo monthly, weekly or – if you’re mental – daily, it provides a stupidly easy way to cross promote your social streams (and in social media, you are encouraged to cross the streams).

Direct your web attentions to Ifttt.com (If this, then that). We’ve spoken before of its many magic web powers, but here we’re after just the one: the ability to auto-tweet a message when you upload a new Facebook photo.

Create an Ifttt account and hook up both your Facebook page and your brand’s Twitter account. Then you need to create the following ‘recipe’:

‘If [new picture uploaded to Facebook page], then [send tweet]’

Make the message something along the lines of ‘Hey, check out our new Facebook Cover Photo’ and it’ll auto tweet whenever you change the pic. You’ll be surprised at the amount of click-throughs that’ll garner. People love them a good picture.

Control tabs

Time: 10 minutes

In April this year, EyeTrackShop and Mashable ran a test to see where people’s focus lands on the Timeline layout. “The new Facebook Timeline limits the effective branding space,” the study claimed, adding that “the top portion of the page must be effectively utilized,” to make up for it.

The results showed that, while the Cover Photo is obviously the main focal point, the second most important part of your Timeline is, without a doubt, the little panel of tabs – they get more eye time than anything else below them. The good news? They’re properly customisable.

How to do it

By default, Facebook spits these panels out in the order it deems useful – if you leave them alone, your tabs will probably look a bit shonky. For an example of well-presented, branded tabs, check out Starbucks’ Facebook Timeline.

Lucky for you, changing them is pie-like in its simplicity. Hover over each tab to reveal the little pen tool. Click that and you’ll be able to swap the order about, but you’d be wise to go one further than that.

As well as letting you create new tabs to act almost like apps, the ‘Edit Settings’ option lets you rename each one and add a custom image. Get creative with this: you’ve got four tiles to muck about with. If nothing else, having a uniform icon style sets a strong tone.

Insights = maximum yes

Time: 3 minutes

Facebook’s supercharged brand pages haven’t just had an aesthetic rejig, they’ve become much more powerful tools. That extends to ‘Insights’  – a new tool that lives above your cover photo. To call it a poor-man’s version of Google Insights is like calling your bath plug a poor-man’s Hoover damn: they both do the job they were built for.

Analogising aside, it’s worth taking 180 seconds to sweep through what it has to offer.

How to do it

Once you’re in the Insights tool, there’s plenty to be immediately scared of. Fear not, though: drilling down into all the data is useful, but there’s two key points you can look at quickly to get an idea of your posts’ success.

Remember, there’s lots to this, but ‘Engaged users’ is the amount of people who clicked on each post, and ‘Talking about this’ is the number who’ve commented, shared or liked something you’ve done.

Armed with that basic info, here’s your challenge: Find a post that, with those two attributes combined, did well, and post something similar. Do it now and we’ll give you a cookie*.

 

So there you go: that’s your Facebook Timeline transformed beyond recognition, and all it took was half an hour or so.

Now that all the emergency fixes are done, it’s time to crack the Timeline open on your brain rock and let the juicy, creative yolk mix together. We’re talking about gamification.

 

Riddle me this

Time: An afternoon

Hats off to Red Bull. The brand had a stunningly well put-together competition ready to go on the first day that Timelines for brand pages went live. It probably went live while you still had your face in your morning coffee.

A few other notables have followed in RB’s footsteps, but there’s plenty more to wring out of the Timeline game, regardless.

How to do it

We’re not about to give you the full recipe to a great Timeline game, but there’s lots to learn from the big names that’ve managed to get their users to bounce around their pages. The Red Bull ‘Timewarp’, for instance, posted a visual clue (a sell-by date on a can) on its founding day that lead to another random date. There waited a picture with another date buried within and so forth and so on until a prize was divvied out.

Coca-Cola pulled a similar trick, going to the length of posting riddles with one-word answers that, when combined, revealed an otherwise obscure URL set-up specifically by Coke for that competition.

However you do it, the pithy bottom line here is this: Timelines allow for very engaging challenges that cost nothing to set up but a bit of time.

Fill me in

Time: An afternoon

In charge of a page for a company with a rich history? Exploit it. Milk it. Treat it like a kind of prostitute/cow hybrid. Facebook Timeline now allows events that stretch all the way back to 1800, which allows for even the most archaic of establishments to revel in their past. A prime example of this include Adidas Originals – which has decked out its page with a beautiful picture of every pair of sneaks it’s ever pushed out of the factory gates, all the way back to 1920.

How to do it

If you can’t manage this, you should probably switch your internet off – it just takes a while. Of all our tips, this is probably the lengthiest, simply because the level of detail you can drill down to is limitless. We’d probably advise against adding that time that Tim from accounts broke your mug to the Timeline, but – you know – you could.

Crawl your cursor up to the spine that runs down the middle of the Timeline and it’ll turn to a plus sign. Click it. You’ll first need to add a company founding date, but then you can just add any big event in history between now and then. Sorted.

*No cookies will actually be given.

  • 01100111

    You’re doing Facebook Timeline Guide wrong: How to rescue it right now

    You fool. You noticed the change from a Facebook fan page to a full on Facebook Timeline, but you’ve done nothing to organize your thoughts effectively in this guide to successfully using all the secret abilities that’ve unfurled into your lap. For shame.

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