After much anticipation, Facebook Timeline Brand Pages are finally here. It is still too early to understand the reaction from managers and consumers, however, we cannot ignore the uproar and confusion that followed the release of Facebook’s Timeline for Personal Profiles.
Even to this day, you are likely to read posts of frustration and confusion on your Wall, as colleagues and peers are still not quite comfortable with, or flat out despise, the new layout. This observation can be further reinforced by statistics and reports that tell the same story.
Despite this previous position, many in the industry are praising the conversion, as they not only expected it, but are excited for it as well. As of March 30th, 2012, all pages will be converted to the new timeline layout. In preparation for the transition, let’s take a look at some of the most notable changes.
On your personal Timeline, much of the emphasis was on highlighting previous events that took place throughout your history on Facebook; experiences from when you first joined the network through to today. It also showcased major events prior to signing on with Facebook, such as birth, graduation and marriage.
This feature will be no different on your brand’s page. Many companies and brands have been around long before Facebook. The integration of Timeline allows you to now showcase important past events, such as when you were founded, when you moved locations or when you achieved specific milestones.
Timeline helps you customer base and even current employees learn more about your brand. And as the popular saying goes: “you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been”.
Friends who also ‘Like’ the page
You thought peer pressure was something that only applied in the schoolyard? Think again. Now when you visit a brand’s Timeline, you will be able to see which of your friends also like that page. This improvement is likely one of the best new features.
Peer validation is extremely powerful. It is the reason why Facebook’s ads continue to become more and more social.
Another powerful feature, and one that is available to local businesses only, is the placement of a Map among the 4 main apps beneath your cover photo. Striving to be found and driving traffic to your location are major objectives for small businesses. Good on the Facebook team to be mindful of many brand pages by including this feature.
Starring & Pinning
Have you ever posted something on Facebook and wished that EVERYONE could see it. Those are all your posts, right? Well ‘starring’ and ‘pinning’ now helps you emphasize specific content on your feed.
- To ‘Star’ something calls attention to the post by doubling the size and consuming the width of your timeline
- ‘Pinning’ a post, which is represented by a small orange flag, means that this post will remain at the top of your feed. This post, and only one at a time, will appear in the top spot until it is ‘unpinned’. This can occur in two ways: (1) by ‘pinning’ another post, or (2) the post being ‘pinned’ for 7 days.
This is a great way for brands to ensure relevant news, engaging content or important highlights get the attention they deserve.
Talking about improving engagement, how about the ability to have fans private message brands and have the brands directly reply? This will likely bring some surprises to brands in both financial measure and brand IQ.
Are fans likely to take to this method to air their grievances or voice every concern/question they have? Will this become an informative source for key stakeholders tied to the brand or a customer service hotline?
It will be interesting to see how this feature is managed and whether or not consumers are satisfied with the attention and care their private messages receive.
Improved Back End for Admins
An improved interface and experience in the front end without any back end improvements would be like using Dijon mustard on a $0.99 burger. Where the meat lies for the management team would also have to be improved.
Well, you can rest assured it has. At first glance, existing page APIs will continue to function, insights are at a glance and the ability to manipulate the page’s posts have all been improved.
Tabs & Default Tabs
Speaking of existing API’s, they will continue to work. However, existing assets such as that designed default tab, Fan Gate, or other custom tabs will all have a short shelf life. When visitors land on your brand’s Timeline, you will have the materials that appear above the fold to truly impress them, likely the combination of a ‘pinned’ post, the list of mutual friends who also like the page, and your cover photo.
With the default tabs having been removed, there is more emphasis on the content of the page. Your Cover Photo carries more presence in conveying your brand’s impact and creativity. Before you conclude on how you’re going to simply transition the messaging from your Fan Gate to your Cover Photo, be careful you are not in violation of these rules. You cannot:
- feature the price or purchase info of your products. This includes everything from price through to place(s) of purchase.
- list any contact information such as web address, email address, physical address or any other contact info that should appear in the “About” section.
- direct the user to any Facebook elements or features such as functionality to ‘Like’, ‘Share’, etc.
- display calls-to-action or encourage a desired action.
We shall await the response from managers and consumers to see if Timeline brand pages follow in the footsteps of its “sister’s” shoes. However, if you are a Facebook enthusiast, you cannot deny that it opens the gates for more pictures, branding methods, and opportunities to captivate your audience.
So go ahead and don’t hesitate to be different, grab attention, stimulate emotion, and encourage engagement. A whole new race has begun, who is going to the first to Spark Conversation™?