3 tips for fed agencies to get the most out of Facebook Timeline

For the federal agencies dragging their feet on adopting the new features of Facebook Timeline for Pages, the Health and Human Services’s new media office is offering tips.

The new format officially launched two weeks ago, and the U.S. Army and other military agencies took the lead in marching out the new photo and historic milestone tools on their Facebook pages. But some federal agencies, though they have made the switch to Timeline, are not taking full advantage yet.

“Use the tips, tricks, and resources below to make sure that your Page is prepared,” Anthony Calabrese, program analyst, wrote on the HHS New Media blog in a recent entry.

The new Timeline format is “fun and interactive” along with being “easy to manage and use,” Calabrese wrote.

One of the most noticeable new elements is the “Cover Photo,” which is the large photo that runs at the top of the page. It is very important to select an eye-catching photo that will attract users to your page.

“The Cover Photo will be the key visual element similar to a billboard image on a website,” Calabrese wrote. “Use a compelling photo that illustrates your mission.”

Another tip is to take advantage of the availability of the historic timelines that can be created on each Page. These are blank calendars scrolling into the past that can be filled in with as much or as little information as desired. An agency that was founded 200 years ago can offer a decade-by-decade view of its history by filling in historic details and milestones on Timeline.

“The genius of the Timeline is that it gives you the ability to weave your program or agency’s history into the Page. And it allows you to back fill your Timeline with important content,” Calabrese wrote.

Ideally, a user who is interested in your agency’s history can have a seamless experience scrolling through the Timeline backward through the milestones and photographs.

Another tip: Take advantage of the ability to enlarge and shrink sections of the page for visual emphasis.

“Facebook is now a visual medium and you can “Star” or highlight posts to make them more prominent,” Calabrese wrote. “This will display images and videos in widescreen and it will make your timeline much more appealing. You can also “Pin” posts to the top of your Timeline for up to a week. These tools are very effective and can keep visitors coming back.”

He also offered links to HHS agencies using Timeline and to outside resources providing more information and ideas.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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