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Timeline coming soon for businesses

Facebook plans to convert business pages to the new Timeline format as early as the end of February when the company will host an invitation-only marketing conference in New York City, according to AdAge.

Marketers have been dreaming up ways to use Timeline for businesses since the new profile debuted at f8, but Timeline hasn’t been an option for brands because the social network requires companies use pages instead of profiles.

Timeline could be a significant improvement for pages, which users typically visit once to Like but they rarely return or spend much time on them. Giving brands more control over their presence on the social network is important for Facebook to maintain an advantage over Twitter and Google+. The change, however, could affect page tab apps, in which some companies have heavily invested over the past few years.

Page owners can look forward to a new design that allows for more branding with a cover photo and the option to resize posts. On the current pages, posts get easily lost, but with the Timeline algorithm, more important posts are surfaced when a user scrolls. Users can more easily find content that was shared weeks or even years ago. With an update to Facebook pages, businesses might also gain the ability to make posts to the past, as users now can with Timeline to share their history. A car company, for instance, might share photos of old models or a drink company might post vintage commercials.

A big question remains: what will happen to tab applications? Many pages — from top global brands to small local businesses — have invested in iFrame apps to welcome users to their pages or provide additional experiences. The company has frequently changed the size of tabs, forcing developers to redesign their apps, and it could do so again.

We also wonder whether Facebook’s mobile product will begin to support page apps, particularly if the company plans to bring Sponsored Story ads to mobile devices soon. Most advertisers will want a custom landing page if they are running a campaign, but perhaps a unique cover photo will satisfy that need.

The last time Facebook redesigned profile pages in December 2010, business pages got a matching update in February. “We hope to make pages more consistent with Timeline in the future, but we have nothing further to share at this time,” a Facebook spokesperson says.

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