The Pro and Con of Facebook Timeline: 13 Most Talked About Updates

by Lisa Peyton on Mar 06, 2012

Unless you’ve been burying your head in the sand (and some marketers ARE) you know that Facebook Timeline for pages has LAUNCHED!

Pro or Con?

Once again Facebook has implemented some controversial changes that have developers and social media agencies scrambling to have everything looking pretty by the March 30th deadline.

Not only are there drastic format changes for the ever-popular custom tabs, there has also been quite a debate of the net gain of Timeline for brands.

Here are my favorite out-takes from the bevy of articles hitting the web over the last several days. Where do you stand? Do you feel Timeline is an overall benefit or a royal pain in the ass?

Top 13 Most Talked About Timeline Updates

1. Tabs, Views and Custom Tab Images, Oh My!

Does it mean Less engagement with Facebook apps? Does it mean Facebook wants to be your website?

PRO:

  • “Tabs are now located at the top of the Page” (hyperarts.com)
  • “Custom Tabs can now be displayed at a whopping 810px!” (hyperarts.com)
  • “You also have the option to keep the tab width to 520px” (hyperarts.com)
  • You can manage 3 of the tabs and their custom thumbnail images, even if it is not your app (hyperarts.com)

“Until Facebook introduces a way to curate the image for the Photos tab, if you upload an image but don’t want it to replace your Photos tab image, re-upload the image you DO want after the image you DON’T want.” (hyperarts.com)

“Facebook’s intent with these wider tabs? Think: Your Website on Facebook…
Yes, with most of the Facebook chrome removed and all that screen real estate, you can now have a version of your website right in Facebook!The more users stay on Facebook, the more they see advertising, which is at the core of soon-to-go-public Facebook’s business model.” (hyperarts.com)

CON:

  • “Photos tab cannot be changed or moved” (hyperarts.com)
  • 3 custom tab links, fewer than before (hyperarts.com)
  • Removes the “most important function… to greet new visitors and convert them into fans” (poynter.org)

“The Timeline format mucks up the things that Facebook Pages actually need to do well.” (poynter.org)

2. Wave good-bye to the ‘Welcome’ tab: The end of ‘like-gating’?

“Previously, Pages could set a default landing tab that all non-fans would first see instead of the wall when they visited a Page. This is no longer allowed. Instead, users always see the main Timeline view and have to actively click through to custom apps. This means custom apps for your contests, promotions, games, media, coupons, and signup widgets may receive much less engagement from users who find their way to your Page” (techcrunch.com)

PRO:

  • “Many will be glad to see welcome tabs go away, considering them obnoxious.” (informationweek.com)

CON:

  • “Pages also often used “Like-gates” on their default landing app, requiring users to Like a Page in exchange for the ability to use the app. While Like-gates are still permitted, they’re not nearly as powerful since they won’t be the first thing users see when they visit a page.”
  • “Every brand will pay some sort of a price to reimagine its tabs.” (imediaconnection.com)
  • “Brands can drive visitors to that tab with a link in a post, an ad, an email newsletter, a Web page, or any other vehicle. They just won’t get the “free advertising” of the default tab display.” (Informationweek.com)

3. Users can send brand pages direct messages

Customer service boon or community management nightmare?

PRO:

  • This is an optional feature (socialfresh.com)
  • “You need to be able to handle customer service messages on your page with more finesse. This is a really important feature.” (socialfresh.com webinar)
  • “Having this feature will allow us the ability to take conversations offline more easily without the overhead.” (socialfresh.com webinar)

CON:

  • “You’ll need to consistently monitor and respond to messages though, or you’ll risk being perceived as ignoring your fans.”
  • “When on a Page, click the “Message” button below the Cover Photo to write and send your message. Of course, this could become a source of spam for admins, but they should be able to block abusers.” (hyperarts.com)

4. Pinned Posts

Choose to feature a page update at the top of your timeline for 7 days.

PRO:

  • You can un-pin a post at any time, but the maximum time you can pin it to the top of your Wall is 7 days.” (hyperarts.com)

“Strategy Tip: Come up with a weekly posting feature — Fan of the Week, Blog post of the week, or a question for your fans that stays up at the top each week — to promote engagement.” (hyperarts.com)

5. Highlighting content

Highlighting content will have it expand to the full width of the screen.

PRO:

  • User comments can be highlighted
  • Large content gets noticed more
CON:
  • “Can I both highlight a post AND pin it to the top? Nope. One or the other, but not both!” (hyperarts.com)

6) Milestones

PRO:

  • “Milestones create shortcut date links on the right sidebar to allow users an easier way to navigate to important events” (socialfresh.com webinar)

CON:

  • Currently if you add too many Milestones, they do not scroll with the page, so your founding date link in the sidebar, is completely hidden, along with other older Milestones.

7. Activity Log

Historical archive of every post your page has ever published. FINALLY!

I think it’s a BIG PRO!

PRO:

CON:

  • There is currently no “ban user” option
  • It is harder for fans to see and interact with fan posts on the timeline

8. Cover image can’t be used as an explicit advertisement

CON for marketers/PRO for Facebook: “Which will impel brands to purchase more ads.” duh.

“One set of rules about pages has already gotten a lot of attention in the coverage of the move to timeline: you can’t use the cover image as an explicit advertisement.” (allfacebook.com)

“You can then select a cover from your Photos or from your computer. The Cover Photo should be 851 x 315px, but you can position a larger image by dragging it. The inset Profile Picture displays at 125 x 125px (although the image you upload must be at least 180 x 180px), plus a 5-pixel white border.” (hyperarts.com)

9. Does Timeline for brands means you HAVE to advertise your page

“Facebook refused to allow advertising. Facebook enabled advertising. Facebook reinvented advertising. Facebook requires advertising in order for brands to succeed. End of story.” (imediaconnection.com) LOVE IT!

10. Reach Generator

Deliver any page post to 75 percent of your fan base.

PRO:

  • More options for brands:pay for impressions, not clicks
  • Guarantee fans are seeing your ads

CON:

  • Must have a large budget
  • Must be working with a Facebook ad rep
  • Not available as a self serve option

11. Facebook LIKES to break shit

“The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.” – Mark Zuckerberg

PRO: For Facebook, everyone has to keep working harder to keep up

CON“Wall conversations suffer from the 2-column layout, fragmenting the flow of conversation.” (hyperarts.com)

12. Content First on Facebook?

“Facebook will drive content experiences first, brand experiences second.” (imediaconnection.com) A more positive spin…

CON:

  • “Facebook is rolling out its new Timeline format to brand pages, but the flashy visual template adds too little style while removing too much substance.” (poynter.org)
  • “Instead of being greeted by a billboard urging them to like the page, (users) will go straight into the conversations in the Timeline–so those conversations will have to be the main thing that convinces them this is a community they want to join.” (informationweek.com)

13. A 30 Day Warning

PRO:

CON:

  • “We were all taken surprise by the suddenness and the 30-day deadline,” (informationweek.com)
  • “Facebook says: “On March 30, 2012, all Facebook Pages will get a new design.” So Page Admins have about 30 days to re-do their Pages to accommodate the Timeline layout.” (hyperarts.com)
  • “Oh Crap, It’s Timeline for Brands!” (prweb.com)

Additional Resources- Really, aren’t there enough already?

For more detailed information on the Timeline changes just search ‘Facebook timeline’. Here’s a list of some of the more comprehensive resources:

Post Author

Lisa is a leader in the field of digital marketing. Based in Portland, OR, she serves as executive editor at TMMPDX.COM and teaches digital strategy at Portland State University. Her services include social media coaching, content strategy and digital...

  • Alison Gilbert

    I keep asking why do I need both a website and facebook pages? Perhaps facebook will take over the web. But I would not venture a guess or a bet on anything right now.

  • http://twitter.com/lisapeyton Lisa Peyton

    I think many companies are asking the same question. But remember, Facebook doesn’t OWN your website. I think it’s essential to own some real estate, instead of simply renting space from an unpredictable company like Facebook. 

  • Amandah

    Is it worth it for a company to invest in a like/lead page since FB is changing to a timeline? I heard that only 1,800 fan pages converted to the new ‘fan page’ look. I haven’t updated mine. Google+ is looking better every day. It’s simple and straightforward as are Twitter and LinkedIn.

  • Victoria

    I have several other pros to add. You may only get 3 tabs in the cover photo area but they are big and can be an opportunity for some custom designs and a call to action. You can also switch out which 3 show, photos seems to stay in the banner so there really are 4.  You can also highlight posts and the photos go double sized which is really pretty…you could even do your promos as a photo and make them huge. You can also ‘pin’ a post that is important and it stays at the top for a week. All in all, not a bad thing.