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Facebook has made many changes to their platform recently. One you may have already noticed is the implementation of the timeline format in profiles. All business pages are now in line to be converted to this format on March 30, 2012. Many businesses rely on Facebook to build their brand, promote specials and educate their online family. The way many medical practices have come to use Facebook will change dramatically. Therefore, it is important to understand how it will affect your social media strategy so that you can make the most of the changes before they go live.

One of the biggest changes that business owners will notice is the addition of the cover photo and the changes to the profile image. Pages now get a large (850 pixels by 315 pixels) cover photo that is located at the very top of one’s page. This prime real estate has a lot of potential with a catch. Facebook has restricted how cover photos can be used. Facebook does not allow the use of contact information or calls to action in the cover photo. When deciding what to use for your cover photo, I recommend having a custom image designed for you that incorporates both your logo and an image. For business owners, consider using an image that is indicative of your practice or specialty and will grab your visitor’s attention. More information on cover photos for pages can be found here.

A second change that occurred is to the picture you use for your “profile.” No longer can you have custom images that are 600 pixels tall with lots of marketing and contact information. Profile pictures are limited to 180pixels x 180pixels, however, they will be displayed at 125 x 125. This will continue to be the image that shows up with each post you make, so choose wisely.

Another big change is the removal of the default landing tab. This change has caused more than a few feathers to be ruffled. Custom landing pages provided a great way to introduce a business to new visitors and ask them to like the page. It was also a wonderful place to display promotions. Don’t fret! If you have created your custom landing tab with a special application, it is still viewable through your applications, which are located below your cover photo. Facebook will allow you to showcase up to 12 applications, however, only 4 will appear in the top row. You can also change the image of the application photo as well as the name that corresponds to it making it stand out to your visitor and motivating them to act. Calls to action are allowed here!

Now you are probably wondering how you can let your fans know when you are having a promotion or other important event. Facebook allows you to highlight or pin a story to your page. By highlighting a story, the event will span all the way across the Timeline. This allows it to stand out to your visitor. An alternative is to pin the story to the top of your Timeline for up to a week. Another way to grab visitor’s attention is with Facebook offers. A select few companies are able to use Facebook offers presently; however, this is expected to be more widely available soon.

Fan posts are now located in a separate area, making the Timeline about your practice. That is why it is important to make your page as visually engaging as possible by adding news features, uploading videos and creating milestones.

Head on over to Facebook today and preview your page. Take the time you have left to design a cover photo and upload it to your page. The changes Facebook has made provide a great way to connect with your fans and introduce them to your practice in a more organized setting.