Putting the New Facebook Timeline To Work For Your Fundraising Page

So, Facebook have done it again - they've changed the layout of the Facebook page (as of Friday, 30 March). Rather than hum and haw over it though, let's just call it progress and figure out how we can take advantage of the new features (while lamenting the loss of a couple of the more useful elements of the old layout).

The Good

Cover Photo - this is typically a welcomed change for organisations across Facebook. This marketing plus gives you more control over how your brand is received. However, Facebook has implemented “guidelines” as to what the cover photo should emulate. Facebook suggests that this space should be designated for the “soft sell.” They frown upon text and hard, promotional, call-to-actions. They suggest “aspirational” images that communicate what your brand’s message is.
Custom Buttons - the custom tabs provide a few new opportunities but come with some limitations. They are as follows:
  • Customised images help continue your new Facebook brand fluidity. Buttons that match the cover photo work best. Here's a great example of this approach at work. 
  • They are larger buttons instead of “tabs” below the cover photo. They are now more visually optimised and have more page prominence.
  • A page is limited to 12 buttons and only showcase 4 at a time. With your “pictures” button being a required one, you essentially have the option of 3 “showcase” buttons. These are great spots for calls to action! Take a look at The Wheel's buttons here.
Highlights keep posts from being lost in news feeds - as Facebook’s interaction pace continues to intensify as well as the overall shift to a more visually dominate network, individual posts simply don’t have the “shelf life” as they used to. The “one post a day” rule is over. You now have the option to “Highlight” a key post for up to seven days in order to assure that it doesn’t get lost in a fan’s news feed and giving it a prominent location up top.
Milestones helps tell your organisation’s story - with the new Timeline, your organisation’s Facebook page now puts more emphasis on its history and storytelling in general; the day the nonprofit was founded, key changes in leadership/philosophies, important missions, and even reaching your fundraising goal can be documented by creating a visual history.  Check out The New York Times fan page for a great example of this.

The Bad

The ability to set your default landing pages is no more - one sour note marketers have clamored over is the end of the default landing page. Before Timeline, this page was critical for many Facebook interactions and campaigns. The default landing page gave organizations, like yours, branding opportunities and calls-to-action that were key parts to their online strategy. The end of this will result in a change of content and communication strategy.

The Ugly?

Messaging a page is now possible - in the past it has been noted how mighty difficult it could be for followers of a Facebook page to contact the page adminstrator (as very often their post / question on the page might go unnoticed). Well, now Facebook have provided each Facebook page with a message facility for followers to initiate direct contact with the page administrator. So, that's a good thing - or not, depending on how much contact you want to receive!
(Handily, you can turn your message button on / off, depending on your preferences, by going into the Edit Page view.)
The general principle however should always be that: the more channels of communication that are opened, the clearer your message becomes.

Overall, the shift to Facebook Timeline means that nonprofits looking to engage their community will have to be more visual, focused on storytelling, and better at the “soft sell.” The increased pace of Facebook will also allow for more interactions than before which could potentially translate to more resources/time spent on site.
With thanks to Blog.firstgiving.com.