Most Facebook page owners are aware that on February 29th, Facebook rolled out its new Timeline layout for pages; Facebook has given page owners a month to integrate the new layout on their pages.

Many page owners who aren’t using Facebook features to their full capacity in their Social Media Marketing strategies have either blindly clicked the “Publish” button, or are just waiting for the change to take place on its own. Those who understand Facebook‘s critical role in Social Media Marketing, and have taken advantage of its many features are a little more reserved about activating the new Facebook Timeline page layout.

Some are very concerned about what the new layout means for their businesses. Like it or not, though the current page layout will be replaced with Facebook’s new Timeline page layout on March 30, so it’s best to prepare now. If you haven’t taken full advantage of Facebook’s features for your food truck or food stand, this is a perfect opportunity for you to step into the limelight and shine.

Before jumping in and publishing your new layout, you’ll need to understand what the new Timeline and its elements mean for your business. The first obvious change is an entirely new look. While it may seem a bit confusing at first, you’ll quickly adapt and understand where everything’s moved to. You will soon realize that the new Timeline brings far more control and power to your Facebook page.

A Completely New Look

Facebook Timeline Page Layout for Stitches 'n Dishes - Admin View

With Facebook’s Timeline page layout, you now have two main photos instead of one. The main page photo is now smaller than it was in the old layout, but we now have a massive cover photo that appears as a banner across the top of the page. Just like Profile Timeline, the cover photo is optional, though you’re doing your business a disservice by not uploading a cover photo. Think of your main page photo as a business card, and the cover photo as signage on your food truck or stand.

Important Rule About Cover Photos:

Cover photos may not advertise anything. Do not use a cover photo as an opportunity to promote a coupon, sale, event, etc. Don’t even use the cover photo as a “like gate,” asking people to like your page, or your other contact information (website, telephone numbers, other social networks, etc). These are all violations of Facebook’s policies.

The cover and main page photos should emphasize one thing – your branding. Together, they let the world know who you are. Your main page photo is what people will see on walls and comments when you post, just as if you left a business card with a note. Use the main page photo to display your logo or a photo of your product.

The cover photo could be a continuation of the main page photo, or a photo of your truck or stand, people eating your food, etc. Or maybe your cover photo will be a photo collage, picturing your menu items.

Create a 851 x 315 pixel cover photo for your page that says something about your business. Because the main page photo is an overlay on the cover photo, you have a great opportunity to be creative here. We chose to make our cover photo a continuation of our main page photo.

When we post a comment or update, viewers see Stitch with his knife and fork, but when they click on our name to visit our page, they find a continuation of the main page photo, and our full branding on the cover. The main page photo is 125 x 125 pixels inside the border, and 135 x 135 pixels, including the border, but the real trick here is that it must be at least 180 x 180 pixels to upload.

Facebook Tabs Have Moved – The Good and the Bad

Page Tabs are Larger with Customizable Icons, but Only the Top Four Display

This is probably the single most popular complaint food trucks and food stands may have about the new Facebook Timeline page layout. First, the new page layout eliminates landing pages. Previously, a landing page was a designated tab that viewers would see if they didn’t already like your page. A landing page could include a call to action such as, “Like our page to access our secret menu,” along with graphics.

No More Landing Pages

Now everyone “lands” on the same page when they visit, regardless of their “like status.”

In the old layout, page tabs were listed vertically on the left side of the page under the main page photo. The icons were very small and difficult to find for the average viewer.

Tabs are now displayed in a horizontal menu across the top of the page, just under the cover photo. The “icons” are much larger (111 x 74 pixels) and Facebook now calls the tabs, “Views.” The best part is you can create your own custom tab icon for each tab.

The Photo tab cannot be moved, but the other three tabs can be displayed in any order. Your top tabs should include your menu (such as Menu Tab for Restaurants), coupons, giveaways, etc.

Page Tabs are now called Page Views on Facebook

What People See on Your Page

People visiting a Page can see:

  • Posts by the Page that haven’t been hidden
  • A list of their friends who like the Page
  • What their friends are saying about the Page
  • Recent posts to the Page made by others

Visitors will see the page updates, as well as posts made by others, unless you choose to moderate your page. You will need to approve (not recommended) all posts made by others in order for them to be viewable by the public.

Page Admins can see:

  • All posts by the Page
  • Things people have posted to the Page
  • The admin panel
  • Page insights

Page visitors can now send messages to you privately. Retrieve messages in the Admin Panel at the top of your page. A Page still can't send messages; you can only respond to messages you receive. You can also disable messages on your page entirely, though I do not recommend that.

 Facebook Timeline Page Settings

I highly recommend these settings for food trucks and food stands. If you strongly prefer to moderate your page or not receive private messages, follow the instructions in RED.

Status Updates, Highlighted and Pinned Updates, and Milestones

Make status updates stand out by highlighting them. Highlighting an update spreads it across the entire viewing page at its point in the timeline. You can always un-highlight the update later. Click the star button in the top, right corner of your update to highlight it.

Pin status updates, like your weekly specials to the top of your page, so viewers will see it every time your page is visited. Click the pencil to the right of the star in the top, right corner of the post after you've posted the update. You can always un-pin later. This is an excellent way to communicate your specials or other weekly announcements. Do not use this feature to replace your daily location updates!

Add important milestones to your timeline, like "First Day on the Road" or "Celebrating 1000 Fans." Attach a photo or graphic image to your milestone.

The Milestone will appear anywhere you specify on the timeline. You can set any date. It will appear with a flag to signify a major event. Think of Milestones as mini press-releases. These updates are likely favored by the EdgeRank news feed visibility algorithm, and may receive more impressions in the news feed and more prominence on Timeline than standard posts.

Here’s a checklist of the most critical things to think about with your new Facebook Timeline Page layout:

  1. Create a main page image and cover image that work with each other to convey your brand
  2. Configure your page to allow fans to post, and check for messages regularly
  3. Feature your most important page tabs / implement and feature Menu Tab for Restaurants
  4. Pin your weekly specials or any special announcements
  5. Highlight updates, such as new photos, new menu items, etc.
  6. Add milestones to your timeline

Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to maximizing fan engagement, and converting them into customers.

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About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.