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Facebook is forcing all pages to move to the timeline format by March 30th. There has been a lot of backlash to the change; Even Jay Baer has taken a stand. Its been said that the changes are unfair and prohibitive to small business. Is this true or just the typical uproar of backlash to changes that always happens when Facebook switches things up?

1. Creating Jobs – Cheaper Design

The main reasons for the backlash have been visual resources, design ability, reach. Most business owners are saying they don’t have the creativity to put together a nice cover photo or rich media elements that take hold of the new found autoplay features. But the flip side to this is that Facebook is creating jobs. Designers have more work than ever with the millions of pages that now in need a new timeline cover photo. This is no cop-out excuse. Designers are small businesses too and they need the work!

The truth is that being a small business is always been difficult. You’re wearing 8 eights and trying to keep everything glued together. If you didn’t have design skills before, then your Facebook Page probably didn’t keep up with the Jones’ anyway. What you will find is that with the influx of new work for designers you can get a nice creative Facebook Timeline package for a decent price.

2. Custom is Out!

“Custom Design” is being thrown out. The custom landing pages no loner rule the call to action, which means bigger companies with more resources don’t rule the excitement anymore.

3. Focus on Engagement

The core purpose of social media is being embraced. Pages now have the opportunity to highlight their fans and engage on a one on one basis – despite what Jay Baer may say, if you get a positive comment, that’s what you highlight. Plain and simple – and your fans will appreciate it. Complaints can be taken off the walls and into a designated inbox. If you “use Facbook as your page”, then you won’t be missing any important messages.

4. Level Playing Field

Facebook has managed to level the playing field. Pages focus on posts and the history of the company. That is what Facebook has boilded evertyhing down to. With just a little creative talent a company can really build their brand history in an exciting way, even if it has been around for a short period of time. As long as you continue to put out content and tell your story, no one will have an advantage over you.

5. Understanding Your Audience

What about “reach”? Well, everyone is a victim of the 16% rule for posts (only 16 percent of your following will see a post in their feed). This is Facebook’s push towards more use of the Facebook Ads. What this really does is allow you, the business owner, to really consider who you clients are demographically. A great exercise in understanding your clientele base. Running ads will get you reach (impressions) and most everyone who has used Facebook Ads will tell you they are great ROI for those who have clicked – even on the cheap side.

Whether this change is a derivative of the IPO or not, it should be expected that as social media platforms evolve. Social Media is becoming a true investment, not just in time, but to make it look pretty too. Anyone who has hired a social media consultant already knows that the price of maintaining an account can be costly. The most recent major shift in Social Media lately has been visual – Pinterest, Instagram, etc – and you’re going to have to invest in developing visually stimulating content.

These changes don’t really bring more to manage, just a change in the way you manage the page. These changes are not bad, but they are changes, and businesses (all of them) will have to adjust.

Creative uses of the new timeline:

The New York Times – included their entire company history in their timeline – easily mimicked by small business
WinMe Social Media Agency – promoting a fun call to action in the cover photo and highlighting their instagram photos, which include a daily “MeetMe 4 Coffee” infograph.
The Today Show & Sports Center – their cover photos show the behind the scenes – nothing too crazy, but interesting. You could even develop a series of rotating images for each week!
Tempo Creative – put together a cover photo that interacts seamlessly with their profile avatar.