The New Facebook Brand Timeline Mistake You’ll Likely Make

by Jason Falls |

As of March 30, all Facebook brand pages will migrate to the timeline format, whether you like it or not. The timeline changes present some interesting opportunities but also challenges to brands with Facebook presences. For our perspective on what you need to be aware of, check out the Exploring Social Media lesson on Understanding Facebook Timelines for Brands.

But there’s one major opportunity many brands will see that really isn’t there because Facebook has implemented a very specific policy that deters you from being overly promotional with your new page layout. The cover photo, which many of you have seen and even implemented on your personal Facebook pages, is a big, empty landscape many brands and companies will try to take advantage of. Why upload just a simple picture when you can create one with some text and other info that better promotes your company? But doing so for certain marketing reasons is now against the rules.

From Facebook’s FAQs about Cover Photos:

Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  • References to user interface elements such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

So you can’t use this territory to market or promote, ask people to Like or Share, tell people how to find you elsewhere or online or otherwise get hold of you.

Here’s SME’s:

Social Media Explorer's Facebook Cover Photo

What Facebook is doing is cleansing the brand page of blatant marketing and promotions. They’re forcing a more social experience from brands through policy. And with their recent IPO, they have a lot of confidence (and money) that says they can fly in the face of the very brands that they depend upon for advertising revenue a bit.

But unless you click through to see the FAQs about Cover Photos, you’re not likely to see the policy. As such, many brands will violate these rules. It’s simply good business to take advantage of that image real estate to create one that presents calls to action, contact information or “Like Us” verbiage. That is until Facebook finds out you’re doing it.

Don’t make that mistake. Just create a masthead. For some neat examples, check out Spredfast (SME client), Coca-Cola and Wendy’s. It’s an image for branding purposes, not marketing.


About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).