On March 30, Facebook will require all brand pages to switch over to its Timeline format. No longer will companies have the ability to set default landing pages, negating costly “like-gating” applications, nor will they get by with posts consisting of only a feed linked through Twitter. Just as Jay Baer points out on his Convince&Convert blog, Facebook is pushing businesses to interact like people with these sweeping alterations and it means big changes for most companies that want to use the platform.

With the Timeline format, brand pages that aren’t updated regularly or don’t have engaging content will look sparse – to say the least. Unlike the current Facebook Wall, the new Activity Stream will show gaping holes between updates if there isn’t a consistent stream of news.

Although Timeline will mean an increased commitment for most companies, the return could be worth it. While many brands followed the trend of cultivating ‘likes,’ research shows that it’s estimated only 4% of users visit a page after they ‘liked’ it — instead they interact with the business through what’s posted to their newsfeeds. Keeping that in mind, the changes could benefit companies that choose to take advantage of Facebook’s Brand page format.

Here’s what you can do to keep your newsfeed fresh:

  • Repurpose existing collateral. Repost media coverage, press releases, speaking engagement news and blog posts.
  • Photos and Videos. Arguably the most engaging content available to post. Pick themes like ‘Behind the Scenes Operations’, ‘How it’s Made’ or ‘Community Building’ and show off the creative and personal side of the brand.
  • Ask questions. Because users interact primarily through their newsfeeds, reaching them through that forum to solicit feedback makes things easy on their end and can help to provide useful insight.
  • Share industry news. Just because a news story doesn’t mention the brand itself doesn’t mean it’s not relevant to readers following the company.

In addition to the changes Facebook has made to its layout, Tabs will be reduced to boxes underneath the page Cover Photo – and that’s another thing - each Brand will have to post a Cover Photo at the very top of its page. And here are a few more new features: milestones, auto-play content, direct messages and content pinning. All tools that can work for a brand if used properly, but pitfalls otherwise. (Note: Keep your eyes peeled for our next post detailing these changes with recommendations, too.)

The bottom line is this - with Timeline, just existing on Facebook is a risk to brand reputation in the social sphere; companies will now need to actively participate on a regular basis. It is a communications platform, after all.

For B2B companies, Timeline’s Activity Stream can serve as an effective distribution channel for content that is already being created, allowing viewers to pick and choose what posts to read based on what’s most interesting and relevant to them.

So as Timeline rolls out at the end of the month, companies will need to decide: are you in or are you out?

By: Rachel Adam
Twitter: @racheleadam