I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that Facebook has just opened up the ability for Facebook Fan Page owners to convert their branded pages over to the new timeline layout.  It’s a feature that’s been around for a while now with regular Facebook profiles, but the ability for Facebook Fan Pages, or business pages, is new.

If you own, or are an admin of a Facebook Fan Page, then you’ve probably seen the message at the top of your page asking you if you’d like to convert over to the new layout.  Some Facebook business page owners have, and others are still holding out.  But ultimately, holding out is futile because Facebook will make the switch over for you automatically on March 30th.

Key features to the new Facebook Fan Page for business and brands – there’s 8 of them you need to know:

1)  New profile pic

The new profile pic has been resized and relocated.  The new size of your Facebook Fan page profile pic is now an “almost square” 124px x 125px.

2)  Cover image

Probably the coolest new feature of the Facebook Fan Page for businesses and brands is the cover image.  This large 851px x 315px layout turns any Facebook Fan Page into nearly its own website.   You can add new pictures, and change out pictures for the cover image as much as you’d like.

3)  Private messaging

The new Facebook Fan Page has a feature that allows Fan Page admins or owners actually message fans privately.  Just in case you want to talk one on one with some of your fans.

4)  New About Section

There’s a totally new “About” section that is not only located in a new part of the page but it will showcase business details with contact and address information.  Plus, it can link to a more indepth “About Us” page where the Facebook Fan Page admin can go into much more detail about themselves.

5)  Reduced Custom Tabs / Pages Visibity

Something that is sure to turn a lot of Facebook Fan Page admins off is the new “limited” custom tabs / custom page visibility.  The limit has been cut down to only 3 custom pages showing – the rest will have to be viewed by clicking the drop down menu.

6)  Highlight Posts

One cool new feature of the new Facebook Fan Page timeline layout is you, the admin, now have the ability to feature (or highlight) page updates.  When you engage or mark an update as highlighted, this will push the update to the top of the time line stream, allowing visitors to view that content more easily, and allowing you to feature content more easily.

7)  Admin Panel

There is now an admin panel – that you’ll only see if you are an admin and logged in.  This new admin panel attempts to summarize the most relevant Facebook Insights data into one easy to read screen.

8)  History / Time Line

Of course, the new “timeline” layout of the Facebook Fan Page is to give visitors the ability to go back in time through the pages timeline bar.  This will allow you and the visitors to your Facebook Fan Page to go back and get a snapshot of how the page has progressed over time.

So those are the 8 key features of the new Facebook Fan Page timeline for branded and business pages.

Have you had a chance to switch your Facebook Fan Page over yet?  If so, what are the best features you like, or dislike, about your new page layout?