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Have you switched your business page to Facebook’s new Timeline yet?  The new format becomes mandatory for all Facebook pages with an automatic changeover on March 30. There are compelling reasons to embrace the change.

Evonne Benedict

As the social media manager for KING 5 (Seattle’s NBC affililiate), and king5.com, I’ve overseen the change to Timeline already on several of our Facebook pages, and learned a few lessons along the way. GeekWire asked me to share my experience to help others as they make the switch.

First, the basics: Timeline is a dramatic shift from Facebook’s linear format. Timeline turns your Facebook page into a diary-like scrapbook, with major changes in photo displays, content you want to highlight, featured apps, and your past posts.

We spend many hours engaging with our fans on Facebook, and we know it is an important source of news and information for many of them.  We are excited about using the new features of Timeline to make that experience even richer for them.

The most visible upgrade in Facebook Timeline is the prominent cover photo, which measures in at 850px by 315px. The big, front-and-center photo makes perfect sense since Facebook has grown into the world’s largest photo sharing network.

Cover photos are bound by certain rules, but there is still much room to be creative while telling the story of your company.

The cover photo on the KING 5 Weather Facebook page frequently changes to reflect current conditions, in some cases making use of photos from KING 5's Facebook fans.

When I first made the switch for KING 5’s main Facebook page, I saw it as a great opportunity to highlight our most important asset — our people.

After trying several options (including a photo of our well-known yellow jackets), I decided to model our cover photo after our award-winning “Promise” promotional campaign. I believe this cover really tells the story of who we are, and our Facebook fans love it!

We have several other station pages with their own unique covers. Our KING 5 Morning News Facebook pagehas a beautiful aerial photo (taken from SkyKING) of the sun coming up over Seattle.

Our KING 5 Weather Facebook page has an ever evolving-cover photo to go with the changes in weather. Some of those photos come from our fans.

It’s simple to change your Timeline cover photo. Hover over the lower right hand corner to bring up the ‘change cover’ option. You can choose from photos in your Facebook albums, or upload a new shot.  You can preview how your new photo looks before you set it as your cover.

Facebook has also changed display options for any photo (or link or video) you post on your page through the ‘highlight’ feature. Hover your mouse over the top right of your post and look for the ‘highlight’ star. Click it, and your post will expand out to fill both columns of Timeline.

Have a post you want to keep as your top item? To the right of the highlight star, you’ll find the ‘edit or remove’ pencil. Click this and you can pin your post so it remains on the top of your Timeline until you unpin.

Facebook admins, you’ll notice some changes on how you interact with your fans. At the top of your page there is now an admin panel which shows you who is commenting on your posts, new people liking your page, and a quick snapshot of your page insights.  The panel includes a new feature in which users can privately message you.  We’ve written more about that feature here.

Photo boxes beneath the cover image let Facebook Page owners link to apps and content.

Remember your wall tabs? They are now featured prominently in photo boxes right under your cover photo. You have room for 12 of these boxes. Two of our featured boxes are for our ‘weather’ forecast and our ‘mobile apps’ which were popular wall tabs under our old Facebook format.

Here is one good trick if you miss the old way of running your page — in the admin panel, find the ‘manage tab’ in the upper right. The drop down includes ‘activity log.’ Click it and you get a linear snapshot of ALL the activity on your page.

One of our goals is to use Timeline to share KING 5’s history. We first went on the air on November 25, 1948 and have reached dozens of milestones in those 63+ years.  Our team will be featuring some of the highlights through our new Facebook Timeline. We hope you will connect with us there!

If you have any questions about Facebook or Timeline, please post in the comments or email me directly at [email protected]. I’ll do my best to help.

Evonne Benedict is the social media manager at KING 5/king5.com and a member of Social Media Club Seattle. She also serves on the Society of Professional Journalists-Western Washington board and the UW Communications Alumni Board. Follow her on Twitter @evonnebenedict.

[Editor’s Note: GeekWire is a media partner of KING 5 and king5.com]

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