The date for Facebook’s switch to Timeline for all business and brand Pages is drawing ever closer. If you haven’t started preparing for the transition on March 30, we’ve got plenty of resources to get you started. If you’ve already transitioned to the new layout, be sure to check out Facebook’s educational information to capitalize on Timeline’s capabilities.

The new layout includes many updates that will help you better present your work and ideas to the public, but a few features have suffered a bit in the transition. Most of these are related to your ability to interact with your client base, so be sure to think about how to put your best face forward when the layout goes live. Here are four features to keep an eye on.

1. Landing Pages

One of the most contentious changes related to the Timeline layout is that Pages can no longer use an App as the default landing page. Companies and brands have voiced understandable concerns that this will lead to reduced engagement with promotions and contests.

Instead of an App landing page, the main image on a Timeline Page is the cover photo. Facebook does not allow Pages to use images with a call-to-action or contact info as cover photos, so companies will need to find creative ways to keep their campaigns at the forefront of fans’ Facebook experience. Some brands have embraced the concept of storytelling as a way to leverage Timeline’s chronological layout.

2. App Visibility

In the old layout, up to 10 Apps were listed in the far left column underneath the profile photo. Only four Apps are immediately visible in the navigation bar on Timeline, although a small box to the right of those thumbnails shows the number of additional Apps not shown.

As previously mentioned, there is some concern from brands regarding the reduced visibility of Apps from the initial screen. However, Page administrators can control the four Apps that are always seen in the navigation bar, so be sure to carefully curate the content that’s always on display.

You’ll want to strike a balance between showcasing the Apps for new products or other time-sensitive material and the Apps that you think will get the most use by visitors. For instance, the Page for television show Glee highlights three Apps focused on fans and contests and the standard Photos App in its top four.

3. Displaying Number of Likes

Quite frankly, having all of the information about a Page’s Likes in one place has never been a strength for Facebook. Previously a visitor would see one box showing just the “Total Likes” and “People Talking About This” figures, while a second box displayed the person’s friends who Liked the Page.

When someone visits your Page now, the basic stats are shown under the company name and in a box on the navigation bar, while friends who Like the page are shown in a third box as part of the Timeline. You should be aware that this information is easily available to your visitors.

Other data that’s easily available now are the changes in the number of Likes and the number of people talking about your business. A graph of that information used to be accessible only to Page admins through the Facebook Insights tool, but now your customers can see the ups and downs of your social engagement over the past month. It’s tough to say whether seeing a prolonged slump in Likes will lead fans to stop following your Page or deter new Likes, but it is a possibility.

4. Wall Posts

During Facebook’s earliest days, one of the biggest thrills was posting on friends’ Walls as a way to share information, relive an inside joke, or ask a question. That aspect of online interaction is less prominent in the Timeline layout. With all the boxes housing Apps and Milestones on a business Page, ordinary posts from individual members or other companies have started to feel secondary.

Since those posts are the most obvious ways for customers to communicate with a company through Facebook, you’ll want to be sure to monitor your Wall for those comments and questions. Another option for encouraging and consolidating customer feedback is to include a specialized App for that purpose.

Nike’s Page is a good example, featuring an App called “Nike+ Support” where people can ask questions, offer praise, report problems, and share ideas. Whatever approach you take, be sure to respond to posts promptly so your customers stay engaged.

Have you noticed any altered features in Timeline that you think were better before? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: Clyde MachineEnrique Galeano MoralesMark RoyKsayer1Mr. Thinktank]