According to Facebook, besides the addition of the cover image and the ability to choose which posts to highlight, the update offers some brand specific features including the option to pin posts to the top of the profile for a week and a new dashboard called the Admin Panel where page stats, notifications and messages will be displayed, and where page managers can feature, hide or delete posts. Fans can now send private messages to brands as well.
TechCrunch points out that brands that have a long, and preferably visual history, will benefit most from timeline, since it makes it easy to go back in time to a company's early days. For example, The New York Times' brand page has an image of the inaugural edition of the paper from September 1851, when it was called "New-York Daily Times." (with a period after Times).
The new pages are also much more focused building a business' fan base through fans Facebook friends. When you go to a brand's page, the first thing you will see, at the top right-hand side of the feed, is a widget where you'll see stories about posts your friends have "Liked," as well as any posts that your friends posted regarding that brand. For example, when I went to The New York Times' page I saw that nine of my friends liked it, and that my friend Allison had posted a link from a Times story about hot dogs to her profile.
During a Timeline demonstration session attended by VentureBeat, product director Gokul Rajaram said, per VentureBeat,"We've seen that most businesses have a core group of loyalists, but those loyalists also have friends. We've made it easier for people to connect with a business through the lens of their friends… It's a much more personalized experience."
The new brand pages aren't compatible with mobile Facebook apps yet, but they will be soon. Businesses can begin converting their Facebook pages on Wednesday. The update is not optional: Those pages that have not switched will be forced to make the change on March 30.
Timeline was announced in September 2011 at the company's F8 conference. Personal profiles were first to get the Timeline update. In late January, the company said the new design would become mandatory for all users in the coming weeks.
Check out Facebook's introduction for the Timeline brand pages in the video below.
A featured post on ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's Timeline-enabled Facebook page:
Want to see some awesome Timeline designs that users have created for personal profiles? Take a look at our slideshow of 13 favorites below.