Facebook introduced Timeline for Pages and it’s the largest, most significant design changes for brands. From now till end of March, brands get to preview and curate their Timeline in a safe environment that is only visible to its Page admins. This curation period allows brands to get familiarized with the features and to understand what works best for them. Brands can publish their Timeline anytime until March 30th 2012, after which it will automatically become visible to all.
So, why did Facebook introduced such radical changes for Brands? Well, there is a host of motivation driving this change – from creating a consistent design for personal profiles/brand to enhancing brand experience, to setting a more potent ground for its advertising revenue – we think the changes are a great step ahead for marketers to create richer brand experiences and deeper connections with its fans.
Overall Look and Feel
You will notice from the first glance of the Timeline that it is highly visual. The Page is no longer just a news feed providing timely updates. Rather, it’s a brand’s storybook – offering depth and richness in content that is visually driven. From the cover photo to larger posts, brands can truly create their own stamp of presence with clever and consistent use of imageries.
Summary of Changes
Here is a quick summary of the key features and the implications to your Facebook strategy.
Cover photo – As Facebook Product Director of Ads Gokul Rajaram says, “its goal is to symbolize what an organization is all about. For a restaurant it could be a popular menu item, a band could display album cover art, and a business could show a picture of their customers using their product.”There are specific guidelines on what should NOT be in the cover photo as recommended by Facebook.
· Landing Page – There is no default landing page when an user arrives at your Page. However, according to our partners at BuddyMedia, you can still “likegate” but moving forward it will be less of a strategy.
· Page Apps - Apps have been relocated from the left navigation sidebar to the right side of the About section. While they appear with thumbnail photos instead of as text links, they’re overshadowed by the massive cover above. Marketers need to figure out how attention can be drawn toward the apps as well as the content on the Timeline. That being said, apps will own a bigger space on their own page allowing marketers to fit in more than the previous constraint.
· Messages – This function enables users to send direct, private messages to the Page. This can be used as a new customer service channel where you can address users’ concerns without having to discuss issues publicly on your Page’s wall. Pages cannot proactively send messages, you can only respond to users that have already contacted you.
· Pinned Post – You can select any post (old or new) to be pinned at the top left spot of the Timeline feed for seven days at a time. Pinning can be used to direct users to an important promotional app, show off a special photo, or display a timely status update. The feature gives you significant control what visitors to a Page see first
· Friend Activity – Located at the top right of the Timeline, visitors will see the faces and number of their friends that have liked your Page along with one most recent Friend comment of your brand. Since the post is prominent and content relevant (friend’s opinion), you want to ensure that negative comments are addressed and controlled.
· Milestones – You can select to publish special Milestones stories such as founding date, product launch dates, or achievements such as getting your 1,000,000th fan. According to TechCrunch, “these updates are likely favored by the EdgeRank news feed visibility algorithm, and may receive more impressions in the news feed and more prominence on Timeline than standard posts”
· Reach generator - Today, content posted to Facebook Pages reach only 16 percent of fans. It allows Brands to pay money to guarantee that your posts get to at least 75 percent of your fans each month, doubling average reach. This means that engagement will more than double as more fans are engaging and exposing these Posts to their friends (who are not fans of the Pages).
· Premium Ad platform – On top of the old Marketplace ads, brands have an extended menu to buy the attention of their users. The catch is – the ads pieces are based on the Page posts. This means that brands need to strike a balance with their content value of postings with a “ad friendly” copy. It works well for both brands and fans as the main focus is on fan engagement with the value of the content in these ad-post pieces.
To further deep dive into the details of each of these feature such as the mechanics, dimensions requirements and case study examples, download our Facebook Timeline Updates presentation.