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Eight Steps to Driving Results for Travel Brands from the New Facebook Timeline

When Facebook finally decided to unveil its new Timeline for company pages, they gave page owners (marketers, to be more specific) a whole new playing field with lots of new tools and only 30 days to adapt and adopt the new format.

Note: This article was first published as a Guest Post on Tnooz.

Those of us who work with Facebook Pages are already used to the incessant changes that Facebook has introduced over the years.

However, many were startled after the latest change was announced.

When Facebook finally decided to unveil its new Timeline for company pages, they gave page owners (marketers, to be more specific) a whole new playing field with lots of new tools and only 30 days to adapt and adopt the new format.

For those who had already prepared long-term plans for Facebook marketing at the beginning of the year, this radical change must have made their familiar football pitch appear like an ice-skating rink during the half-time break.

Admittedly, Facebook is trying to make things easier by allowing page admins to preview the new look of their pages before the new design goes live for everyone without exception.

The countdown is well underway and on March 30 all Fan Pages will be converted, permanently, to the new Timeline.

With such a slew of changes and new features being introduced with this update, it would be advisable to review all critical aspects of the transition before moving to Timeline.

To make this transition easier, we’ve created a selection of the Top Eight things travel marketers must know about the new Facebook Pages.



1. Catch the eye with an appealing Cover Image, and a square profile pic

The first and perhaps most eye-catching change is the introduction of a large cover image identical to the one already available on personal profiles of Facebook users.

Although it may seem like the perfect place for an advert, Facebook makes it clear that it cannot contain price or purchase information, contact details (like a web address), reference to user interface elements such as like or share, nor any call to action.

Think about it like the painting behind your office reception – while it’ll be an image that resembles your brand, it certainly cannot be “salesy”.

Moreover, your profile picture cannot be a long rectangular discount offer, but a small, square logo that appears as a 130x130px image when viewed.

What you need to know:

2. Direct Messages finally make Facebook customer service a reality

Perhaps waking up to the fact that one of the ways Twitter scores over Facebook is by allowing brands to privately interact with their users, the new Page, by default (it can be disabled), will allow users to send direct messages to the company.

It should help by creating a new, private, communication channel and also reduce the chatter on the Wall (referred to as Timeline or Page henceforth).

Of course, while private interaction might be welcome relief for the airlines and hotels that get lots of rants on their pages, don’t forget to continue providing real-time, reliable and essential updates to your followers publicly on the Timeline.

What you need to know:

3. Only three tabs to display your most important apps/content

Another area that is likely to be a bit of challenge for Page Admins is what used to be the Page’s tabs and apps sections. In the new design, they have been turned into small blocks aligned in a banner-like section just below the cover image.

Due to the limited space available this area can only hold a maximum of four blocks, of which Photos is permanent, leaving only three other visible tabs.

So you’ll have to carefully select which tabs will get you the most engagement or will lead to content that you absolutely need to share with your audience, since the hidden tabs will not get nearly as much exposure as the visible three.

What you need to know:

4. Prominently highlight the important events in the development of your airline

Travel brands now have a great way to visually share their “history” on Facebook. A new feature allows brands to display their milestones as part of their Timeline, complete with images, date and a brief description.

The milestones will be featured as more visible posts and will be given a higher weight in the ranking algorithms that determine what each user can see.

For airlines, one great way to use this feature could be by marking route launches as milestones by adding a Timeline event, an image of the destination and a short story or description.

What you need to know:

5. “Starring” for full-page-wide posts and Pinning

In keeping with the new, more visual feel of the Timeline, Facebook allows making certain posts, including company milestones, more eye-catching by expanding them from the default half-page width to full-page width by simply clicking on the star button at the top-right of your posts.

There is also an interesting “Pin” option that can be used to feature a particular post at the top of the Timeline, thus ensuring that it will be viewed by all of the page’s visitors.

Losing out on the opportunity to advertise on the cover image might be redeemed by this feature, but use it very selectively.

What you need to know:



6. Time to move away from custom Welcome pages

The second most obvious difference that users will see is the disappearance of Welcome Pages and “Like gates” that have been widely used by travel companies as a free advertising space and a useful place for highlighting promotions and campaigns or even to lead to apps.

All Pages, by default, will show the Timeline and none can be set as default.

Interestingly, you can still link directly to your custom tabs and apps from sites outside of Facebook, whichmeans you can continue linking people to “fan gate” pages from your main corporate website.

Though, anyone who tries to load facebook.com/yourcompany will be looking at your Timeline. If you want inbound visitors seeing one of your tabs/apps, you may need to circle back and update all your old Facebook links (at your website, email signatures, at Twitter, etc.).

What you need to know:

7. Integration with Third Party apps may appear different

Most large airlines and hotels use 3rd party apps to post on Facebook, like Radian6 or Sysomos, which provide much better analytics.

But in the latest design update, Facebook is trying to get Page admins to spend more time posting directly from Facebook, by making posts from 3rd party apps appear differently.

While they may not always be as pretty, postings from 3rd party apps have their advantage.

What you need to know:

8. Revamped, exportable Insights offers deeper insights into activity on your Page

On the flip-side, the new Pages will also make life easier for Page Admins by providing them with a new range of metrics that will be displayed in a new admin panel at the top of the page.

The improvements are so many that they would probably require another article to be thoroughly analyzed but here they are, in brief:

The ability to measure not only the number of fans but also the extended network reach (friends of fans).

A graph that allows the comparison of the week-by-week evolution of the weekly total reach, the number of people talking about the company and the frequency of posts.

A new post metrics section that allows admins to measure the exact reach of each individual post as well as the number of users it engaged and the number of people who talked about it.

Furthermore it also provides an intriguing “virality score” that measures the percentage of users who created a story from that particular post.

Moreover, Facebook now has a handy “export” feature that allows admins to download all the insights from their Page. This feature can come in handy to create monthly reports to keep track of the Page’s development over long periods of time.

What you need to know:

The bottom line

Ultimately, the increasingly visual look of the new Timeline will allow travel brands:

And to do it all successfully, we recommend you don’t wait till the last day to convert your profile. Experiment a little, play around to see what works best for your brand.

And of course, if you need help we can help. Just drop us a line at facebook@simpliflying.com and our team of professional consultants will be delighted to help.

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Posted by on March 29, 2012.

Categories: Marketing

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