Today, Facebook announced the release of the new Timeline for brand pages. Although this announcement was expected in social software circles – some were very surprised by it. Before you react one way or another, let me explain what this actually means for you – especially if you sell products.
First things first, you don’t have a choice. Come March 30, 2012 your brand page will be on Timeline. There are several major reasons for this but the largest is the new Open Graph architecture that Timeline was built to embrace. You can see examples of this on your own personal Timeline page with aggregated information from applications such as Spotify and others – showing your activity over time. Brands will now have the ability to elevate other aggregated information (like the history of the company) and improve promotion of applications (ones that used to be on tabs) in new and exciting ways.
100% Increase in Time Spent on Brand Pages
Your customers, because of Timeline on profiles, are now getting used to seeing information about their friends in this format – and now when they see your brand page they can learn more about you and the products you sell. For large, well-established brands, this can be a new form of long-tail marketing that will lead to increased brand awareness and engagement. In testing, Facebook says that users that view Timelines for brands (like Coldplay, Walmart and others that were included in the launch announcement) spend 100% more time on the new format to learn and discover. You are now a friend to your fans, not a business. You now need to fill your page with rich and relevant information in a time-based format to engage and retain your audiences. The good news though for many brands is that the “conversation” has been simplified. Users can now send private messages directly to you and you can reply back. Brand pages shouldn’t run the risk of turning into flame wars or customer service nightmares as brands have much more control over what is seen, how it is seen and more importantly, what isn’t.
Tabs to Applications
You now have real estate in the header area of your new page to promote your applications (tabs, as they were known yesterday). But when an application is engaged there is a new branded header and a much larger application canvas that allows you to do more. There is also a dynamic new drop-down menu that allows your customers to view other applications without having to hunt around the page.
Posts, including posts about products, now have relevance to their launch and their related content – so brand events now can become an important driver of social momentum and activity. If you have a product launch, event or endorsement, you can merge your marketing calendar with specific messaging that is date-based and present it in a curated manner – more customized than what you could do before. You now also have additional tools in place to promote that activity.
New Premium Ads
Posts that you make to your pages can also promote your applications and Facebook has added some serious horsepower to these posts through GraphRank and their ads platform. You can participate in their “Reach Generator” programs to distribute a single post to your fan’s Facebook pages, or add premium services to your ads to promote a post on the right side ad bar, directly in the newsfeed or on the Facebook log-out page. We are sure to see more areas added to these premium offerings in the future.
Lastly, Facebook has added new features for better video promotion on your Timeline that can also leverage these new premium ad services.
All in all, while not overly surprising, we think these new changes will be a good thing for brands marketing and selling on Facebook and we’re excited to create great new experiences that leverage the best of the timeline features.