Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why You Should Give Facebook's Timeline A Second Look

To the dismay of some businesses, Facebook launched their new Timeline layout recently, abandoning the message-board style of before. 1 of every 5 business owners I've spoken to are less then thrilled, finding it to be cumbersome, awkward and unnecessary. Though Facebook did give one month advance notice, many have expressed discontent with not being able keep the prior layout; finding the simplicity of the old more user-friendly. The ultimate difference between old and new is the emphasis Timeline places on storytelling through visuals and communication. There are some key features for enhancing your brand marketing strategy, with a relatively limited number of restrictions to abide by. Timeline is designed with aim of steering brands to do more talking with customers versus at them, all with the end goal for building a community. Here are the features expected to make that delineation easier to accomplish.

Open with a Cover Photo

All pages now open to a cover photo which yields some obvious appeal. Being the first page element a consumer will see, businesses have a unique opportunity to develop and illustrate their brand with a compelling, high quality, relevant image. Imagery is a critical element of social interaction. Applications like Instagram, newly acquired by Facebook, have made that evident. Photos must be free of advertisements, promotions, contact information or any misleading messaging, as per Facebook's policy. Instead, set the pace with a creative that represents the business focus and is innovative, that your target can identify with.

Dimensions: 815px by 315px

Display Company Milestones

The milestones feature on Timeline lets brands show the evolution of their business by highlighting important dates, then coupling those with correlating images. Add a photo of your first distribution center, your first product sold, the owners and staff of years past. Just as with skimming through a photo album, leveraging a consumer's intrigue in where you've been may foster a great interest in where you're going. Any entry must be relevant therefore be selective.

Featured Applications

For most pages, the applications menu was tucked away on the left hand margin prior to Timeline. Apps are now situated beneath the right hand corner of the cover photo, and following the images field. While up to 12 applications can be featured, choose wisely and steer clear of clutter. Only applications positioned to have the greatest consumer engagement should be showcased.

Enhance Messaging with Stars and Pins

Draw attention to individual posts with the star and pin feature. Starring a message will extend its placement across the width of the page. Star interesting, important messages from both consumers and the company. This practice of acknowledgment will encourage more people to post willingly. Be sure to rotate your starred messages, always providing visitors something fresh to observe. Pinning serves a similar purpose. Selecting the pin icon, will navigate that entry to the top of the Timeline. New promotions, pivotal company accomplishments, and the like should be pinned. Assign an experimentation date and hold yourself accountable to managing, and updating pins semi regularly.

So, What's the Point

The atmosphere of social engagement has changed and Facebook refined the visual landscape of brands pages (and its feature elements) in attempt to appease that evolution. Brands commonly suffer a dialogue disconnect with their consumers, and were reliant on applications to do the dirty work. Timeline replaces the core elements of the message-board layout for business pages in place of a product that mimics consumer pages more closely. That means, the expectation is on the brand to act as their customer would. Utilize these features to make your business more compelling. No longer can you land incoming traffic on a “fangating” application to force likes. Instead consumer's are looking for a hub that caters to people like themselves, and Timeline provides the tools making that development more attainable.

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