Facebook’s Timeline for Pages has finally been released, and it appears that a few of our predictions have proven correct, while a few new exciting/concerning elements have unfolded.
But before we get into the critiques, let’s take a moment to go through the anatomy of this new interface. Mashable put together this short video describing the main features:
After getting over the initial shell shock of the cluttered content, you will find some particularly interesting Timeline components, include Highlights, Messages, Friends’ Activity, and visual real estate.
I am a big fan of this option from both a brand and consumer perspective. It allows the page viewer to streamline comments made by friends who are also fans, view recent content from the official page, and then see a block of comments made by other users.
For years, customers (and brands) have wanted to be able to connect with each other without divulging sensitive information–like email address or phone numbers–but were not given that option. Happily, Facebook now gives customers the ability to directly message the page for a more personalized experience.
What does that mean for you as a brand? What resources do you have in place to triage the anticipated influx of queries through this platform. Are you relieved or stressed by this addition?
Activity by Friends
So you, as a consumer, don’t really care what John Doe has to say about your favorite brand, but you do care what your best friend, Sally has commented. Timeline for Pages gives customers the flexibility to filter posts on the page down to your friends who also like the page. This will help customers filter through some of the extraneous posts on a page without missing out on their friends’ responses. What does this mean from a brand perspective? Advocates. Your fans can more easily engage with their friends who are mutually fans of your brand page, and essentially have their own sub-community on Facebook to share content and comments.
Visual Real Estate
Like on many blogging platforms, brands now have the option to make special posts sticky, or “pinned” (Pinterest, anyone?), remaining at the top of the page as a main feature. Macy’s has taken the opportunity to call out their new Timeline display in conjunction with an engagement campaign.
Brands also have the ability to draw special attention to content posts with a full page width feature. For brands with visual content, this element is a particular win. As you can see with the Visit Holland page, the tourism bureau used the country’s iconic windmill to tell a story and stimulate dialogue. Early adopters of the Timeline layout can utilize this space to produce more conversation and visual interest on their pages.
From an educational and advocacy standpoint, the historical documentation of Tiimeline is a great opportunity for brands to share their story. Some brands are only including their founding date, but others, like the US Army, are using it to mark key dates and accomplishments. This feature is great for newer companies, but for international brands and destinations that have been around for hundreds of years, Timeline is limiting – only documenting back to 1800.
Since we’ve covered some of the exciting parts of Timeline, let’s delve into the less than enthusiastic changes.
No Promo Language, Please
While pages now have a lot more visual real estate to work with, their designs will be significantly restricted. Facebook released a list of guidelines on how Pages may and may not use cover photos:
Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:
- Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
- Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
- References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
- Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”
How do these restrictions affect your Facebook marketing and engagement plans? Where will you promote call to actions if you cannot include them in your graphics?
No More Welcome for You
A huge engagement and conversion driver for page viewers was the customized tab landing page. Brands could incent their visitors to click “Like” for access to exclusive content, deals and engagement opportunities only available to fans. Unfortunately, Timeline does not give pages this function anymore. Facebook’s removal of landing tabs is an attempt to force brands to appeal to their visitors through conversation only, as opposed to advertising. Brands will now need to find new, innovative calls to action and conversion that do not necessarily depend on a custom tab.
Brands may not be too pleased that their competitors will now have access to more of their analytics. By inserting “/likes” after a company’s Facebook URL, viewers can see not only how many people are talking about the brand (previously available on pages), but also key demographic information and user engagement.
As a brand, how do you feel about this information’s availability? While this may make your monthly competitive reporting easier, are you concerned about the access your competitive set has to your demographical and engagement stats?
Bye-bye Recommendation Box
First, there was the Reviews app, then a Recommend box, and now… nothing? Facebook continues to make interface changes that drive users to engage on the wall or Timeline, but not on other places within the page. This latest iteration allows fans to write a recommendation (Invisible Children’s page below), but aggregated recommendations have full on disappeared. The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour‘s social media strategist, Matt Mikulsky noted that they, “received a recommendation just yesterday for Future of Flight, and now that we’ve switched to Timeline, I’m not seeing it anywhere.”
Perhaps Facebook intends to bring back the Recommendations box in app form, but until then, users will have to rely on peer to peer engagement to have their questions answered. Facebook’s intention may have been to foster an environment for conversation, but users may become frustrated when they cannot quickly find the feedback they seek.
So now what?
Whether you’re a Timeline proponent or not, your company will have to think fast and potentially rearrange your priorities to meet Timeline’s global rollout on March 30. Now that you have had time to look over Timeline’s layout, how do you feel about its impact for your organization? There are some key questions your company should answer before publishing your own Timeline:
- Which milestones are important to include?
- How many resources can you dedicate to the more customer-friendly personal messaging?
- How long will you keep sticky posts pinned at the top of your page? (Remember, your fans return for new, fresh content, so don’t keep posts bookmarked for too long.)
- Is your website socially equipped to accommodate additional traffic?
Have you already implemented Timeline to your page? What elements are you most excited about? What would you like to see improved?