When you grow as fast as Facebook, you are constantly tweaking “things” to improve them. The same thing happened (and is still happening) with us at Outskirts Press. Not that I’m comparing our growth to Facebook’s (I wish!) – but we have had quite a few “versions” of our website since it launched in 2002, and to this day we are constantly improving it.
For Facebook, every change they make has the potential to upset 500 million people. That’s a lot of pressure. Generally, people don’t like “change” very much. Even if, in the long run, a change is for the better, people are just more comfortable with the familiar. When transitioning to a new Facebook Pages layout, the Facebook folks offered an opportunity for people to proactively opt-in to the new design before enforcing the transition. Frankly, I’m not even sure when that “deadline” is, but we actively opted-in to the new design as soon as we could, and then started tweaking our Facebook Page layout to take advantage of some of the changes.
Aesthetically, the most noticeable difference is that the Facebook Pages now look nearly identical to Facebook Profiles. Some comment filters have been added (profanity filters, for example), and new dimensions are set for logos and other branding opportunities. While these variables are not yet as robust as those offered by YouTube (more on that in the near future), the new Facebook page does provide some branding opportunities for the creatively-minded.
The first thing you should do to “brand” your company page on Facebook is shorten the URL for it by creating a custom url (for example, www.facebook.com/OutskirtsPress, instead of facebook.com/profile.php?id=123456789)
When this functionality first launched in 2009, Facebook required companies to have at least 1000 fans in order to create a custom URL. But now it appears to be available for Pages with as little as 25 fans. If you have that many fans, you can set a custom URL in your Settings.
The next thing to do is customize the logo box along the left-hand side. The profile image dimensions used to be 200 x 600 and are now 185 x 540. Yes, that means there is a chance you will need to resize or recreate your “old” graphic to optimize it for the new layout once that change is enforced.
At Outskirts Press, we’re in the process of branding all our social networks (or at least the four main ones we use: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our blog on WordPress). This includes uploading graphics, logos, and summary statements that look the same and communicate the same message across all channels. For Facebook, this meant uploading a new profile image to take advantage of the new size dimensions offered by Facebook. This new graphic matches the front page of our website as well as online and offline advertisements we run. We call it our “Write Anything, Publish Everything, Market Everywhere” creative, or “write.publish.market” for short, which is our new tagline we introduced with the lauch of our new logo and new Version 4 website in 2010.
Facebook allows you to select a square portion of the new profile picture to create your “Avatar” so consideration has to be made to “kill two birds with one stone” so to speak, since successful Avatar images often are not the same as successful branding images. That is why our profile image contains both our new name treatment logo at the top and our “older” circular logo at the bottom – the latter being an element I wouldn’t otherwise have included in the profile graphic; but it is the Avatar we have built our social presence around and I’m not inclined to change it (at least, not now).
If you look closely at that screen shot above you’ll notice the cover image for Fandemonium (our Facebook anthology), which just published today, and it seemed fitting that we should announce that publication to our Facebook fans first. It’s not even available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble yet, but only through our bookstore at Outskirts Press (at a 10% discount, by the way).
And you’ll also notice images of our book publishing package icons (the gems) along the top of our new Facebook Page (another branding opportunity available on Facebook through “manipulation” of the images functionality). And I’ll discuss those topics next time…