Brands and businesses have been living with the new Timeline layout on Facebook for more than a month now, and most have been adapting well, if begrudgingly. It takes a bit more time and energy to keep your fans interested with the current setup, but many companies have had success and continue to engage their readers with this new format.

The bad news is that there are still some pitfalls. Whether it’s a problem specific to Timeline or simply a less than ideal approach to customer interactions, here are a few mistakes that we’ve found companies making on Facebook. Use Timeline more effectively for your businesses by avoiding what these brands have done.

1. Making Questionable Choices in Cover Photos

Changes related to Cover photos is perhaps the biggest source of trouble in the new Timeline layout. Facebook announced several new rules about how companies could use the visual storytelling elements. Now, direct calls to action and discussion of products, prices, and so on, are prohibited. But remember, just because there are new restrictions doesn’t mean your Cover photo should be boring. It’s the biggest image a visitor sees when arriving at your Page, and that first impression counts!

Many of the questionable photo choices are made by smaller companies that may not have the budgets to invest in a flashy, custom-made designs. For instance, DGdesign has a cover photo that looks like a copy and paste job in a basic photo editor. Another ineffective choice is the photo for Pardot. The image is more about trying to decipher text than being wowed by a powerful image. Especially for a marketing company, making a bad choice in your Facebook Cover photo will reflect poorly on your image.

To avoid trouble with your Cover photo, think simple. If you don’t have the resources to create a graphic yourself or to pay a designer, then don’t. Taking a photo of your team, office, or products keeps the focus squarely on your business. If you want to find a fancier image, check out Creative Commons sources for a photo that you can use for free (with the proper attribution). Just be sure that your cover photo will help you, rather than hinder you.

2. Overusing Internal Facebook Applications

Facebook has plenty of handy features to help keep your Page fresh and interesting, but be wary of too much of a good thing. Toyota USA used the Question app to conduct polls four times over the course of a single weekend. If you like the idea of surveying your fans, then space out when you ask those questions. Also, remember that your fans may not be able to converse about the polling answers. The Questions app actually offers less room for people to talk and share than an open-ended status post. All your fans can do with this app is press a button and watch other responses.

Another way your can overuse Facebook technologies is to make Pages for too many of your business branches and locations. Whole Foods Market, often a leader in the social media sphere, has unique Pages for several of its store locations.

While this is a good way to share information about store-specific deals or merchandise, finding the most relevant Page can be complicated. The main corporate Page isn’t even listed among the top search hits, and there’s no guarantee that your closest branch will be a top hit either. Be alert to the possible pitfalls of diversifying your Facebook presence too far.

3. Posting Repetitive Content

Your fans want to see material that’s new and relevant on your Page. Deviating too far from your core services for too long raises red flags for a reader. For instance, posts from Bank of America frequently seem to go on unrelated tangents that take over the company’s Page. The bank regularly tries to ask its fans about their volunteering. These posts usually have less fan engagement than the ones focused more directly on Bank of America’s business, or posts that are just about the company’s charitable efforts. If the content isn’t relevant and is repetitive, readers will tire of it quickly.

Another offender here is fashion company Forever 21. Its Facebook Page usually has several new posts a day, most of which are light on content and heavy on product photos. Updates usually are swamped with comments, but many of them criticize the items shown and several comments tend to be spam. For an effective and useful Timeline Page, quality should trump quantity every time.

Have you caught any mistakes happening in the transition to Timeline? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: Tuomas Puikkonen, Scott McLeod, Ksayer1, Feral78]