Posted by Sophia Litterdale,
Mar 16, 2012
Facebook timeline has been available for personal pages since last year, but it has now increased its reach to incorporate brands.
The changes mean brands will be able to select a ‘cover image’ to sit at the head of the page, a historic ‘timeline’ feature and the ability to edit and update without leaving the page. These changes make visually aesthetic content even more important as image and video sizes increase and are given a more prominent position with the new two-columned design. This ties in with the current movement in social media towards more visual content, with the rise of sites like Pinterest and Tumblr fuelling the trend for more eye catching layouts and formats.
What does this mean for brands who use Facebook?
For a start, users are now able to digest more content in a shorter space of time. The new layout makes good use of all brand assets, as videos and images can be previewed directly on the page. The ‘pin’ function also allows key posts to remain in a prominent position; this means brands can now keep their posts at the top of the page for longer by ‘pinning’ them. There are some great benefits in this as it allows for more strategic targeting of Facebook fans whilst strengthening brand and consumer relationships at the same time.
The other benefit for brands is that Timeline offers them an opportunity to participate in the act of storytelling, providing the user with more engaging content which also gives a visual narrative as to who and what they stand for as a business. For users, the new format also makes it easier to find brand information, including photos, apps, maps and info sections due to the clearer navigation structure. This in turn brings a better user experience and translates into more rewards for the brand itself.
Is it time to do Timeline?
Changing to Timeline now, rather than later, is a wise idea. Brands will have up until the 30th March 2012 to keep their existing design, before it will be enforced for all brand channels across the platform. Brands who convert their own pages rather than waiting for the automatic rollout will have greater control over the end result.
Documenting the timeline
Brands can now document their entire history using the timeline function, as the New York Times have done, marking their founding year in 1851. However, the only problem here is that the timeline feature only goes back to 1800, meaning that any brands with a longer history will be cut short.
The new brand pages give brands themselves a greater identity and personality, paving the way for image-heavy, storytelling, engaging content. In doing so, this also calls upon brands to adopt greater transparency in what they are doing and saying on social media channels, as all content is enlarged and far more visible to the user.
Rise of the live newsfeed
The Facebook timeline development has seen a move away from the static landing pages and towards live ‘newsfeed’ stories. This is good news for brands: it will help focus their efforts on listening and responding to their fans. Facebook themselves have recently been emphasising the significance of listening and responding to their audience, and tout it as the most important thing a brand can do through social media.
Will Timeline change how we use Facebook?
The simple answer is yes. Facebook’s changes will help brands to realise how powerful and effective each individual’s news feed is, and will therefore aid the shift in thinking within social marketing. It will also allow brands to become more conversational with their fans, which is great as the power of Facebook is about engaging and sharing content.
It must also be said that these changes highlight what those in social media have said all along, that the number of likes a page receives is not the most important thing; it is in fact the levels of engagement that are the key insight. After all, likes don’t necessarily equate to sales.