Dotbiz by Andrew McEwan

I know it seems like I’ve been concentrating a lot on Facebook marketing recently, but I make no excuses. It is now a vital tool in your marketing toolbox and shouldn’t be overlooked.

A common statement I hear from clients is, “I’m not on Facebook myself, so why should I put my business on it?”

Well, the fact is that more than 30 million people in the UK alone are on Facebook, so chances are that lots of your customers – and potential customers – are on Facebook, too.

This month I want to concentrate on some major changes that Facebook is making to Pages. The new Timeline layout has already been rolled out across personal profiles, and Facebook is in the process of introducing the same thing to pages. You can update your page now to the new format or wait until March 30 when it will be done automatically for you.

Some of the main changes include the introduction of the ‘cover photo’. This fills the full width of your Facebook page and should be used to encapsulate what your business is about. You can update it as often as you like and it provides a great chance to get creative. Be careful what you include in it, though. At the time of writing, they may not contain:

z Price or purchase information, such as “40 per cent off” or “Download it at our website”

z Contact information, such as web address, email, postal address or other information intended for your Page’s About section

z References to things such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features

z Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

Some of the rules have been changing as Facebook seems to take on board comments from its users, so it’s important to keep an eye on these. Your profile image will also change dimensions: with Timeline it is square, and the most obvious use for this is for your logo.

Tabs (or apps) move back to the top of the page and are more prominent with larger icons which you can now customise to your own design. A down side to this is that only four apps are actually shown, and one of these is always photos. If you have a number of apps running on your page users will need to click on a dropdown icon to see the hidden ones, up to a maximum of 12 altogether. You can determine the order in which apps are displayed, so be sure to place the most important ones in those first three slots that you can customise.

One of the best facilities that Facebook provided us with before was the ability to determine which app users would see when they come to our pages. This could be a custom app with an important message that you wish to promote or a mechanic to get users to engage with your page. With Timeline, this goes – users land on your wall. Facebook assure us that we can still send users to custom apps via ads … which we have to pay for, of course!

Other additions include:

z Milestones – marking important events in your business’s history that can be added right back to 1800

z Wall posts can be highlighted by pinning them to the top of the page for up to seven days, or making them fill the full width of your page, giving it more impact

Most of these changes are great news for businesses wanting to make the most of Facebook, giving you a huge opportunity to engage even more with your audience. If you want any further info about Facebook pages, just get in touch.

Andrew McEwan of The Web Workshop in Morebattle (www.thewebworkshop.net) designs websites, builds brands, produces videos, and markets businesses in the Borders and beyond.