Facebook Timeline & the Art of Story Telling
As many Facebookers recently found out, all individual and brand pages have been migrated to the Facebook timeline format. As has been true in the past for major Facebook changes, some users have expressed frustration with the change. In the past, brands have struggled to understand the proper uses of Facebook and social networking. Many have only marketed at surface level by filling their feeds with too much self-promotion and not enough engaging content. Understanding Timeline updates and communicate and engage effectively in the format is of increasing importance in the creation of brand awareness and engagement of users.
What has changed in the move to Facebook Timeline?
Featured & Cover Photos
The first major change in layout is at the top of the page. With Timeline, the multi-picture featured photo section has now been replaced with an image banner at the top of the feed known as the “Cover Photo”.
The “Cover Photo” feature is very unique in that it can set the tone for the page right off the bat due to its large size and its dominance on the page. You will want to make sure that the photo is neatly cropped and is in line with your branding messages. Before Timeline’s update, Pages could set a default landing tabs that would show non-likers and new visitors artist controlled apps and customs tabs first instead of going straight to newsfeed. This feature is no longer allowed as the page now opens directly to feed with enhanced visuals and unique new features. Apps now appear as thumbnail photos instead of as text links. This in tern means that custom apps for contest, promotions, games, media, coupons, sign up widgets, and music giveaways may receive much less engagement from users who engage your page.
Brand Page → Visitor Messaging
For the first time, brands can respond directly to fans or visitors via Timelines new messaging feature. The one caveat being the fan/visitor has to engage in the conversation first. Regardless, this presents huge opportunities for brands, allowing them to actively engage and communicate directly with their consumer base, as well answer questions at a finite level or handle customer service needs. If you do not have the time to actively maintain the communication process, Facebook has give the option of turning the feature off, but branding and active communication goes hand in hand.
Another one of the newest features is the ability to pin one of your best new or old posts to the top left spot of the Timeline feed for seven days at a time. Pinning can be used to direct visitors to an important promotional app, show off a special photo, or display a timely status update. Also, use this feature can be used to direct traffic from your social networks to your web community. Always keep links to you important websites and digital content pinned so it maintains prominent position on your page. Similar to pinning post is Timelines Highlight feature. Highlighting important posts throughout your Timeline will make them appear the full width of the Page.
This feature becomes incredibly important when it comes to story telling, creating a more graphic visual representation of your Timeline, and ensuring the post/new/content you want highlighted throughout your Timeline are done efficiently. Highlight the best photos, fan posts, and links that are still relevant, and hide or delete posts that see irrelevant to your brand message, have broken links, or were timely when published but no longer make sense.
If Facebook Timeline was your brands biography, the milestone feature would likely be the title of each of your chapters. To create a milestone, hover over your Timeline until it becomes a plus sign, and selecting milestone from the drop down box. Add the major things like date band formed, concerts that you opened up for a big act, the day you signed a distribution deal, released an album, or charted on Billboard. This feature is an asset for story telling, helping brands paint the picture for their audience without boasting. Milestone updates are favored by Facebook’s EdgeRank new feed visibility algorithm, and may receive more impressions in the news feed and more prominence on Timeline than standard posts. Similar to highlighted post, Milestones appear the full width of the page.
With all the new features Facebook has created to enhance the user experience of Facebook and brands ability to tell their story, it only makes sense that they created a new admin panel to keep track of key “insights”. Use these tools to manage posts, post milestones, keep track of likes, networks, people talking about you, etc.
Interaction is more important than ever for brands social networking. Timeline provides to resources to interact and engage visitors, but by neglecting or fighting against it will only have a negative effect on your brands image. Take advantage of being able to create organic and interactive content, videos, quizzes, survey, sweepstakes, contests and coupons. Update things often and keep users coming back and engage your social space.
Large brands like Redbull had some unique uses with Facebooks new Timeline. They created a trivia challenge based around their brand, and user had to scroll through their Timeline to find the answer. The first users to find the answer and message them received a prize.
Check out THIS LINK for some suggestions from Music Think Tank writer Simon Tam on Milestone ideas for bands and emerging talent.