You might not be a big fan of change, well…Facebook doesn’t really care what you think…they’re changing the format of Facebook over the next few weeks whether you “Like” it or not.

You might have noticed some of your friends using the new “Timeline” format.  I’m neither impressed nor unimpressed with the change…but again, it doesn’t matter what I think because it’s Facebook’s world…I’m just living in it.

Here are some of the bigger, more notable changes that will affect your page

The Timeline is going to be mandatory on both your personal page and your business page.  I’m less concerned withhow easy it is for your Mom to keep up with you on your personal page, and more concerned with how this change will affect your business’ page.

You now have a HUGE picture you can put at the top of your page.  You can go to www.fiverr.com or www.odesk.com and for $5 you can have someone convert a few of your photos into 851×315 pixels (Facebook does make it easy to crop your own photos, but custom pics would look better IMO.  I would recommend getting more than one created  a) because they’ll do more than one for $5, and b) because you might want to test a few images.  A picture of your gym, a picture of some of your members, and a picture of your staff standing in front of your sign would be a good start.

Facebook isn’t being crystal clear on what you can put on your timeline picture.  I’ve read some reviews that say you can put custom images and calls to action on it, whereas others complain that Facebook forced them to change the image.  I can tell that Facebook doesn’t want you to tell people to LIKE your page, to visit your website, to download your ebook, to call your phone number, or any other number of calls to action. etc.  I saw one timeline pic that simply said “We love our fans!” conveniently located just above the LIKE button…which I suppose is a workaround for telling people to like your page.

You get a small secondary profile picture on your page as well.  Which isn’t overly important on your page, rather it’s important because that image will represent your gym’s page in ads, sponsored stories, news feeds, and other areas of Facebook.  I recommend an image of your logo.  This is a square image.

The default landing tabs we’ve used for so long are now missing.  Facebook no longer allows you to determine and customize a default landing page.

You’ll now find at the TOP of your page your gym’s photos, likes, as well as your apps.  You can show only 12 apps, so make sure to put your favorites first.

You can now “sticky” a favorite post at the top of your page.  All you need to do is hover over one of your stories, click the star, and click the pencil item and you can pin the story to the top of your page for a week.  Or you can hide or delete that post this same way also.

I think this will be powerful for you to do once per week.  Any good post that you want people to see, pin it to the top for a week.  Too many times we have a great story or video and it gets pushed down your page too quickly.  This allows you to still post daily to your page without worrying about fans missing an important announcement or story.

Your admin panel has gotten an upgrade.  From your cpanel you can now better monitor activity on your page, respond directly when someone posts on your page, and there is also a handy activity log to review all of your page activity in one spot.

Here’s a good change….You can now message fans directly!  This has been a big complaint of page owners and Facebook has listened.  You could always message friends from you personal page, but now you’ll be able to message fans directly rather than posting on their wall.

Lots of people have complained that once you create your name on Facebook, you’re stuck with that name and associated custom URL.  Well now Facebook has allowed the opportunity to request to change your page name.  So if you have worked hard to build 3,000 fans of your bootcamp business, but now you’re opening a physical gym and changing names, those fans are no longer lost.

You can set milestones for page and tell the world about it.  For example, you can have a milestone posted when you reach 1,000 fans, when your new gym opens, when a member reaches a goal, etc.  I’m not entirely clear on how this one will work best for us in the fit biz, but I think we will find some great ways to use it. When you reach a milestone, a huge picture posts on your page making the announcement.

How to get your page ready for the change

Get your Timeline Pics created now.  As mentioned above, have a variety of pictures to put at the top of your page.

I guess the entire point of the Timeline is to show your progression through the years.  You can post information all the way back to the day you opened your gym.  That said, you should be making a list of all of the positive changes your fitness business has gone through since you opened. Make a huge list of company events and dates so you will have them ready to post to your timeline when your page is switched to the new format. Start with the date you opened, when you reached your 100th member, when new services were added, when you opened another location, people you’ve hired, events you’ve been a part of, member success stories, etc.  This will be a good way for a prospect to get to know you and trust you by seeing your progression.

Make sure your address is up to date.  Timeline includes a map to your facility, so be sure you’re sending them to the right place!  While you’re at it, make sure you update your admins, and post some new videos and images to your page.  They will transfer over seamlessly.

From what I can tell, these are most of the big changes that will affect your page.  You can make the switch now, or just wait for Facebook to make the change for you on March 30th.  Either way, you want to be ready.  It won’t look that great if you are missing your photo at the top of the page or other information I mentioned above.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Facebook is one place you don’t want to fail.

What do YOU think about the new changes?  Let everyone know below!