When Facebook announced Timeline for members, it was only a matter of time before brand pages would get the overhaul. This overhaul now has a date, March 30th.
Brand Timelines come as Facebook strives to allow people to use the site as a channel to tell their stories, whether it is their life story or the story of their brand. Companies can use their pages as a means of expression and as a conduit to convey the brand’s persona.
What are Timelines?
By definition, a timeline is a representation of key events within a particular historical period, often accompanied by visual materials. Essentially, they are another method of telling a story, and Facebook Timeline for brands will be no exception.
Companies will need to think strategically about their brands and how their company page can reflect their story. What does the company provide users? How can they connect with their audience by providing engaging content? The cornerstone of successful brand pages will be accomplished by painting a story about the brand’s progression, achievements, milestones, and historical events.
How is Timeline Different?
Facebook Timelines are an opportunity to engage fans and create conversations. What they are not are megaphones that can be used to shout at customers or used for one-sided promotions. Facebook will be rewarding brands that successfully create engagement with their fans by expanding the brand’s reach, and ultimately exposure on the channel.
Brands will need to back-fill their Timeline with historical events and milestones. These will help to tell the story of the brand and its evolution. In addition to being able to highlight important past events, brands will be able to “pin” posts to the top of the page. While brands can only pin one piece of content at a time, this will likely be utilized as a method for highlighting new and interesting content. Pinned posts should include calls to action, be a clear indicator of the brand’s value or history in order to maximize using the top of the page real estate.
Brand Timelines will be most beneficial for brands that create engaging content and use the channel to feature their company’s persona and history. Further, brands will need to remain active on the page by updating featured content, albeit pinned or highlighted. This will also include highlighting apps and other benefits of engaging with the brand. Pages will need to listen to their fans in order to create interaction and engage users. It is only through stimulating content that a brand will be able to further increase its reach and awareness on the platform.
Upon landing on a new brand page, the user will first see a brand’s cover image. These pictures should encapsulate the brand and its persona. What is the company about? Is it their customers, products, or something else? This image can be thought of as the brand’s new billboard, but this is not a place for self-promotion, offers, or product launches.
At first glance, the cover photo should evoke emotion. Even more importantly, the image should be share-worthy. Fans can comment, like, and share cover images, so the more visually appealing the image is, the more likely fans are going to engage. Brands should also think about changing the image to remain relevant with the brand’s current endeavors. While the image does not have to already be featured on the company’s website, the image should remain within brand character. This allows for consistency and familiarity across all touch points.
Tabs and Apps
Directly underneath the cover image, apps (formerly tabs) will be prominently featured. While four apps will be visible at all times, brands can include up to 12 apps. The remaining apps will be nestled “below the fold” and will not be viewable until the user clicks on a dropdown arrow. The photos apps will always remain in the first spot. This placement further indicates Facebook’s emphasis on photos and visual images.
While these four apps will remain prominently featured on the page, brands must think about other methods of creating awareness for the “below the fold” apps. This could include Facebook ads that link to different apps or highlighting apps in posts.
Facebook really wants fans to be able to connect with brands. To do so, Facebook has now allowed fans to initiate conversations with brands by messaging the page directly. While brands cannot connect first, the page can receive messages. This provides a unique opportunity to resolve customer service issues within the platform. This will also remove potentially disparaging posts from a brand’s Timeline. While the feature can be disabled, Facebook will likely reward pages that use the feature to listen and engage fans.
As with everything else Facebook does, they want the focus to be on the user and creating stories. Facebook wants brands to work to understand their customers and the type of content they find interesting and Facebook will reward these efforts with increased distribution.
In October, Facebook allowed members to tell their story, now it is time for brands.