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Should Ski Resorts Be Furious at the New Facebook Page Layout?

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Wow. The more I look into Timeline for brand pages, the more I think it sucks. I told a few people I would wait to write about this until next week so it could all sink in, but I spent last night digging and I think some of the big stuff should be shared sooner rather than later.

I was honestly psyched about the layout change. I loved the visual real estate the cover photo added but wondered how the Zuck would adjust the rest of the features to match the functionality marketers have been relying on for years with their pages.

Unfortunately, in the end, I feel Facebook has made some very major, very poor tradeoffs. For more details, here’s Facebook’s FAQ page:

A Reminder
Before I get into what I don’t like, I think it’s important to put this into perspective. I’ve seen various numbers, but each say that the vast majority of your content is consumed from the news feed (anyone have some solid, verified data on this?). Which means that these changes, while major, shouldn’t affect engagement much but may effect growth depending on your strategies for acquiring fans.

Issue #1 – No More Custom Landing Tabs
You know how you could show non-fans a custom landing page to entice them to click “like”? That feature is no longer. You can still have custom tabs (though they are buried a bit) but you simply can’t set one as a landing tab. Instead, Facebook suggests you link to a specific tab from other locations.

Issue #2 – No Promotions in Cover Photo
According the Facebook TOS, putting any sort of promotional materials (coupons, offers, etc.) in your cover photos is not allowed. You can’t even use language to encourage non-fans to click “like”.

Issue #3 – No More Linear Posting
Posts are now displayed in Timeline’s famous two column layout. I personally am not a fan. The point of this is so you can tell your story and shocase the highlights of this story. Stories are powerful, but this is more like a novel about your brand which I don’t see as a plus.

Issue #4 – Pages Now 800px Wide
You know all those 520px wide images you’ve used in your pages? They now (or will when Timeline goes live) look really strange in an area that appears to be 800px wide. Get ready to redesign.

Issue #5 – Page Messaging
I torn on this one. It’s another inbox to check. While there are surely times this will help, not keeping up on this inbox will lead to one thing…wall posts. If fans don’t hear from you in time, get ready for dozens of “did you get my message” posts on your Timeline.

So what is good about the new layout?

I see only a few things, the first is the thing I was most excited about in the first place before I knew this would be much, much more than a mere face lift.

Positive #1 – Cover Photo
Cover photos let you show off more of your resort with a large, prominent image.

Positive #2 – Pinning
If you want a story to be more noticed by those that come to your page, you can pin it to the top where it will stay for 7 days. I don’t think this will impact how it shows up in news feeds, so I don’t really see this as a huge plus.

Those are the only positives I see (along with the admin feature Shawn mentioned below). Maybe the 800px width on tabs will open up new doors of possibility, but right now, it’s a hassle.

What I’ll Be Watching
As this ramps up, the thing I’ll be watching is how fan growth and engagement is affected by the changes. I’ll be watching 15-20 pages on both sides of the coin (those that have already published a timeline and those that are waiting) to see how things go. I’ll report as soon as any trends emerge.

This is Early
I think it’s important to note that these thoughts are after a day of use. Also worthy o My mind really hasn’t had a chance to wrap itself around the possibilities of the new features which, obviously, were chosen for a purpose. The next couple weeks will tell a lot about how this new system will help or hurt resorts.

There are lots of other things I’ll need to chew on more (the new public insights that show “talking about this” trends, removal of “check-in” counts, etc.). I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you love it, hate it, or is it just too early to tell?

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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