Today, Facebook will roll out Timeline for brands to a select group of partners.
Adage reported that, according to their sources, it would be released to more marketers in stages. Despite not knowing when the new format will be available for everyone, everyone is asking:
How can brands and marketing professionals prepare for the changes?
It’s important to understand that this is being released to certain brands in beta. We can see the new features and make plans, but there is no guarantee that all features will be available when Timeline is rolled out to all pages. We also need to acknowledge that this will be different to timeline for personal profiles.
Last year, David Fischer, Facebook VP of Marketing and Business Partnerships, told AdAge that Timelines for brands wouldn’t be a carbon copy of Timelines for people. The word he used was “consistent”, meaning it would have the same general layout, graphics heavy with an emphasis on activity boxes.
Via Marketing Pilgrim
Despite not knowing the timing, and the exact changes, there a number of things you can do to get ready.
Simply Zesty list several tips about how to prepare. They are:
- Create and agree on a new editorial process
- Choose cover photo for fans
- Decide your timeline of events
- Get your admins in order
- Talk to your developer
- Prepare a post for fans
Talking to your developer/marketing consultant (us!) should be your first priority. There is an overwhelming amount of information available regarding the changes and your consultant will help you figure out the best strategy.
Tell your brand story
It will be more important than ever to know how you will express your brand story. Brand story is what The Village is deeply passionate about, so if you’re not sure what yours is – give us a call. Forbes gives a great summary of why brand story will become more essential on Facebook:
Facebook is still personal and Timeline will call for more meaningful interactions. Moderation will become more important – so forget inundating the Newsfeed with irrelevant attempts at mass appeal. Instead, emphasize the chapters of your story that are relevant and interesting to specific audiences.
We agree with Georgia Gier when she recommends taking note of the following:
- The cover photo.
- Increased prominence of posted photos.
- Apps for Timeline. See how apps are being used on personal profiles.
- Facebook actions. Here are 8 ways brands are already using Facebook actions.
The cover image
The cover photo is one of the most cited changes, and provides a lot of new branding opportunities.
Mart Prööm, at Dream Grow, gives some useful tips on creating an appealing cover image:
- Use call-to-actions that prompt people to like your brand page.
- Explain what you’re about in a short and understanding manner.
- Make your cover image and profile picture thumbnail interact with each other. Here are some really great Facebook Cover page examples which you might find inspiring.
There has been a lot of discussion about the potential use of covers as part of branding already:
- Mashable asked some top digital brands to imagine how branded timeline pages would look.
- John Haydon pointed out that you can swap out covers that promote your latest outcomes and events
How else can I tell my brand story?
Recent Vitrue data shows that apps are the most engaged with content on Facebook, followed by video, image and then text. So this naturally plays well considering apps and multimedia will be enhanced with Timeline. Brands should take note and be sure they are providing a healthy combination of all for maximum effectiveness.
In addition to multimedia, you should consider what you want to change in the history of your timeline. Mart Prööm gave further tips on preparing Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages
- Display events such as when your company was founded.
- Go back in time and gather information about when were important products/services launched. Add a neat looking visual and voila!
- Make sure you add images to these events and furthermore, make sure you select the right kind of images to tell the story of your brand. If you don’t have any good pictures to go with these events, now is the time to start photoshopping.
John Haydon also suggested that you’d be able to feature more content above the fold.
You don’t have to change immediately
If these changes feel daunting, don’t feel like you have to dive right in just yet. Facebook does have a 90-day notification policy for breaking changes to the platform, which will give third parties time to learn how to adjust their services to timeline.
We’re all keenly aware that Facebook has gone through numerous overhauls in the past and businesses and third-party platforms have stayed ahead of the game and adjusted. This time shouldn’t be any different.
We will have a long time to get used to new features. There will also be a lot of new articles summarising trends and case studies as more data becomes available. This means that brands can take their time to create a strategy and plan for the changes.
If you have any questions, either tweet us or comment below. We’ll do our best to answer.