FLUID on Facebook Timeline: What Brands Need to Know Now

by / Monday, 05 March 2012 / Published in Facebook, Social Media

Last week, Facebook announced that brand pages will be switching over to the Timeline layout on March 30. We at Fluid think that corporate pages may actually be better suited to this format than profile pages. For starters, it’s significantly less creepy to find out what Coca Cola was up to in 2001 than a casual acquaintance. It also makes the experience on brand pages much more interesting and personable for visitors.

With that said, remember the most valuable company exposure isn’t on brand pages. According to a May 2011 Comscore report, 27% of a user’s time spent on Facebook occurs in News Feed. Comscore also reported that three top brand pages saw 40 to 150 times more impressions in News Feed on their pages.

Timeline won’t affect the way these stories are shared in News Feed, but the posts that resonate on Timeline will likewise drive engagement in News Feed. That’s because the Edgerank algorithm that determines News Feed placement rewards highly engaged posts and Friend activity. Additionally, posts with images- the kind of posts you’ll want to be using regularly on your Timeline- generate twice the engagement of other posts types, according to Facebook’s internal studies.

Fluid has taken a look at the first Timeline pages to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what we can work around.

Hence our first recommendation: convert to Timeline as soon as possible.

You’ll be required to make the switch on March 30, so why not leverage some early adopter swag? While you’re at it, use this opportunity to re-evaluate your social media strategy. A few points to consider:

Is your page easy to find? An additional feature added on Wednesday allows admin to easily change page names. Many brands have multiple pages, some unofficial fan pages, some company-run. Makes sure it’s clear that yours is the correct page.

Pick a cover photo that complements your profile picture. You can use this background to creatively interact with your profile picture. Swap it out seasonally as you would a landing page, but take note: Facebook has prohibited the following:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  • Contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section
  • References to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

Make the most of the real estate. The biggest Timeline gripe: the removal of app tabs and default landing pages. You’ll now have 4 tiles for apps and a drop-down menu. The first is designated for your photos. You’ll have to decide which apps you most want to feature in the remaining three tiles. Forgo displaying Page Likes as a tile unless it’s really something you want to draw attention to; they’re already called out below the page title. You’ll also want to have a succinct About statement that fits into the three lines designated on Timeline. You may use this spot for the calls to action that are prohibited on the cover photo.

Fanta has adapted their landing page to fit the new layout. The cover photo incorporates the profile picture and the campaign, and the action is called out in the About section underneath.

Use pinned posts to unify your content. Daily updates should be considered components of a holistic page rather than branded pings. Organize content around a weekly pinned post, or use this feature to emphasize promotions, campaigns, and app links formerly used on your landing page.

Move your monitoring resources to private channels. Instead of the wall being a catchall for Page posts, fan posts, customer service, and spam, Fan posts are filtered to their own section of the page. Now that pages can also directly message Fans, customer service can occur through private channels rather than the wall.

Visually highlight your content. With the bulk of the page dedicated to brand content, photos and videos should play a larger role in posts. Utilize the new starring function in previous posts to double the width of videos, albums, and photos. Some ideas to incorporate in future posts:

  • Repost stellar content curated from your Fan post section. Since these posts are now compiled separate of your posts, use your space to leverage the best fan submissions.
  • Show your products from different points of view to maintain Fan exclusivity. Without a landing page, Fans need a compelling reason to Like your page. Show them something different than what’s available on your website. A fan submission of their new shoes sitting beside the box, an employee’s Instagram pic of their outfit, or behind-the-scene corporate snapshots are all cost-effective ways to diversify your product photos.
  • Instead of creating new albums in full, add images in batches so each upload generates another newsfeed story. Star each upload to expand these assets in your Timeline.
  • Link previews look particularly weak in this format, so star these posts or upload images instead of relying on the thumbnails.

Star your video to ensure its prominence on your page. Burberry’s starred video has 2,067 shares; the smaller video thumbnail has 336.

Extend your Timeline with milestones. There’s no rule to what constitutes a Milestone, but ours would be that it’s interesting and has a picture. Just be careful about doing it all at once. Each milestone will generate a News Feed story, and you don’t want these stories to be lumped together or worse, cause a fan to hide your updates or Unlike your page.

  • Older brands should capitalize on the visual impact of Timeline posts in selecting milestones. Your posts can revolve around your archives, as opposed to the other way around.
  • Younger brands have room to branch out with milestones. What works: humor, fun factoids, a dose of personality. What doesn’t: corporate news that lacks relevance to your fans.

Adding a bit of commentary livens up this milestone. A picture would make it even better.

Another Starbucks milestone fails to capture interest.

Make your content worth sharing. The greatest potential for your social media efforts lies in fans’ friend networks. Your goal should be to create content that compels fans to interact and better yet, share. This is an opportunity to draw attention to work of which your company is particularly proud, to put your stake in the ground, and to communicate your story in a compelling and effective way. You’ll be rewarded for high-quality content with equally high-quality fans.

Reach out to us with any questions or concerns as you make the switch. Here’s a few resources to get started:

Facebook: detailed overview.

Mashable: Examples of brand timelines.

Mashable: Why Newsfeed matters most.

All Facebook: Noteworthy Timeline changes.

Inside Facebook: Comscore report coverage

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