[Posted by Mickael Bentz, Product Manager, Neolane]
As many are aware, Facebook will be rolling out a version of Timeline for brand pages on March 30. While this is a mandatory update, businesses are encouraged to take advantage of the month-long grace period to preview the new features, most of which have already been outlined.
This post examines a few new features that marketers should take advantage of to differentiate themselves and get the most out of what the new Timeline has to offer.
Using Photo and Video Assets
The Timeline now allows brands to post larger images and videos, providing more opportunities for differentiation and creativity. Additionally, brands can mark milestones on the Timeline (such as company founding, key hires or funding), which is a great way to tell the full company story. Below is a side-by-side look at the current format and the format of a brand’s page with the new Timeline.
Some early analysis has shown that users’ eyes jump from images to videos when navigating branded Timeline pages. Users do not often read text on the pages, and now that comments are only viewed by clicking under each post, many of those will not be read either.
This means that brands must focus not only on developing high quality visual displays, but also linking to quality content with eye-catching photos or videos. Wal-Mart is a good example of a company that is using vivid images to better publicize its products and promotions.
Building and Maintaining a Fan Base through Valued Content
In the past, when a Facebook user landed on a brand’s page, the first thing Facebook visitors did was “Like” the page because they were prompted to do so on a “fan gate” tab.
With brand Timeline pages, the “Like” button is nearly hidden under the cover picture. Brands are unable to redirect visitors to a “fan gate” page or use their cover photo to encourage people to “Like” a particular page.
Now that getting visitors to “Like” your page will be become more difficult, brands must focus on providing value-for-time content on their Timeline and page tabs to give people more reasons to engage with them on a regular basis, and opt-in to receive updates to their news feed.
To achieve value-for-time content, marketers will need to better assess what draws in visitors. A recent survey assigns value to exclusive brand content, coupons, special offers or exclusive deals, as well as event invitations. Unfortunately, Facebook makes it clear that if brands want to reach non-fans and followers, they’ll have to pay for Facebook ads.
While we continue to learn more about Facebook Timeline, it’s important to keep it in perspective. Facebook is only one marketing channel that can be employed to connect brands with customers. As such, organizations should use Facebook in conjunction with other channels such as email, SMS, iOS push, Twitter and more to create a more holistic brand experience. If fans opt-in to receive messages through these channels, a true cross-channel relationship can be formed with conversations taking place across all consumer touch points.
What has been your experience with Facebook’s Timeline for brand pages?