Friday, March 02, 2012

Facebook Timeline for brands

Facebook Logo
As the final roll-out of Facebook Timelines for personal profiles rolls ever nearer, this week sees the introduction of Timeline for brands as well. The option to switch to Timeline is already available for Facebook Pages, and it’s looking like the 30th of March will be the date for compulsory uptake of Timeline for pages. Some well-known brands have already got in there with some great displays of what a business can do with Timeline, but what do these changes really mean?

Facebook Timelines
There's a lot of new changes to take in, perhaps the most immediate change off the bat is the removal of the landing page. In our previous thoughts on organising a Facebook Page, we were all for using iframes to create your own custom, free from Facebook formatting, landing page. In place of a landing page we now have the Timeline page, with its large header banner and Timeline arrangement down the side. Extra tabs that were once the mainstay of Facebook brand pages are now for the most part removed, and instead we have a section for photos, apps and company info.

The large cover photo is a new addition right at the top of your page, which offers a large space to personalise and open the look and feel of your page. Taking into account it’s prominent positioning, updating this regularly offers a great opportunity to make your visitors aware of new opportunities.

The profile image has also changed, from the sizeable rectangle we were allowed before, now we’re reduced to a much smaller square profile image, on the plus side, it will at least thumbnail neatly when making posts on your own wall!

Bear in mind what an app comprises of is largely up the administrator, whether it’s what was once a custom page in an iframe, or a list of free issue apps for things like events and other social network integrations, it’s likely that all previous custom tabs will be converted into ‘apps’ that the visitor can click into.

Furthermore these now load on a separate page. You can also rearrange the order of this section to highlight particular content to users.

Facebook Timelines
When it comes to the actual wall, as you can see on the side, we can now add in significant events from the past and date them appropriately. As a whole the wall becomes a more dynamic and visual experience. Images and videos are larger and take a more prominent position in the wall content over text, and can either cover half or the entire width of the wall.

Timeline also adds the ability to send private messages, meaning that fans and visitors can converse with you privately, adding another dimension to potential customer services.

Facebook Timelines
The backend has also been thoroughly updated and streamlined, as well as the ability to receive and send private messages. Through the admin panel overview you can check out notifications, new ‘likes’ as well as basic analytics for your page. As an administrator you now have more control over the content posted onto your wall by fans, allowing the option for all content to be reviewed before going public on your Timeline.

What are the benefits to brands?

The new cover image is a whopping 850 odd pixels wide, which presents you with a lot of graphical real estate right smack bang at the top of your Facebook page, excellent for grabbing a potential visitor and drawing them in. Its prominent position makes it great for product promotion and pushing, since it’s the first thing your visitor will see.

By pushing the info section right to the top of the page, rather than leaving it lingering in the sidelines, it now becomes a lot easier for users to get the gist of your brand immediately. Furthermore offering the ability to send private messages to and from pages opens up new channels of communication and prevents walls from becoming cluttered with conversation between admin and client, which whilst handy for engagement, may be entirely irrelevant to every other visitor to the page.

The Timeline format itself lends itself to giving out information and content much more so then the previous wall designs. Of course, the conversation between brand and client is as important as ever, and in a sense Timeline lends itself to encouraging such discussion. The constant stream of information is easily accessible on the first page, and limited only by as much information as you, the brand, put in. Offering up more information for the user to consume leads to further engagement, and prolongs the interactions you have with your visitor. Timeline appears to be less a case by case display of content and more of a streamed story, dependant of course on the information you put in in the first place.

As Mashable puts it in their explanation of why Timeline is great for brands post;

“With the focus shifting from building conversation to sharing content, the purpose of a Facebook brand page will be less about selling and more about telling an authentic story. Brands can express what makes them unique and build an emotional connection with fans through behind-the-scenes photos, blooper videos, real-time mobile pictures, sound clips and exclusive news. In addition to expressing the brand in the present, a brand can utilize the Timeline to speak to its past to reignite nostalgia and sentiment that may be associated with it.”

If you're interested in making the most of your online presence, or wanting to find out how you can include Facebook and social media into your online strategy, then why not get in contact with our Sales Team here at Rocktime.

Author: Alice Cheetham


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