On Friday, all brand pages on Facebook were finally switched to the new Timeline format. Many were dragged, kicking and screaming, and left with a fair amount of cleaning up to do. The new format has been particularly unpopular due to the amount of work required to get it up to scratch; how many of you were stuck cleaning up spam comments which had previously slipped under the radar until Timeline decided to give them a dedicated section on your page?
Not only do you need a cover photo, but you also need to populate your feed in a balanced and interesting way – without spamming your followers with updates. It’s an unwelcome and laborious change. And the Timeline feature is about to get even less popular, as two studies published this week have shown that brands have seen a significant fall in user interaction since Timeline was first introduced. (via ReadWriteWeb)
The studies, carried out by EdgeRank and HubSpot, confirmed what we all suspected – user interaction with brands occurs on the newsfeed, not on the Brand page. And this is obviously good news for Facebook, since they would much rather have Brands pouring their marketing budgeted into target Facebook ads than benefiting from a free page.
So how do you stay ahead of the curve and keep in touch with your users after the change?
The Facebook Timeline is hot news at the moment, so make sure you publicise your new look. Focus on having a good cover photo, but don’t obsess about documenting every bit of your company history. Timeline is slow, and (speaking as a user, not a marketer) few are willing to wait for the past month to load, never mind the past 50 years. Coca-Cola and Spotify have done an epic job of getting their Timeline’s filled with history, but few will care about this in a months time when the novelty has worn off.
Focus on creating content, Ben & Jerry’s are a great example of user generated content marketing. They encourage users to post images on their wall and choose a featured image every week.
And finally, don’t panic about your social media marketing plans just yet, as we’re only seeing early indicators which don’t necessarily indicate future trends. This study by VatorNews suggests there is actually a bump in interaction.
How do you feel about the Facebook brand page changes? Have you noticed a significant fall in interaction?
Following in the tracks of Twitter, Facebook has started to launch new Brand pages which echo the Timeline updates which have divided Facebook users. Will these changes be as controversial and difficult to adopt for Brands as they were for users?
Looking at a brand page like Coca Cola, you can see that they’re already making a huge statement with the iconic red banner. The banner feature is obviously a bonus for companies as it’s a great branding opportunity, there’s also the chance to create interesting banners which their fans can use.
Other first impressions: oh my, this sure is messy. The neat freak lurking within me immediately wants to start tidying things up, creating neat orderly piles and categorising things. There is no such layout available unfortunately; this could make interacting with the brand more difficult.
For a company like Coca Cola, a timeline is a really interesting feature, as they can trace their lineage back to 1886. For any company with a rich past like this, they’re facing the same issues users face; fill out your entire history, or leave it blank?
For companies that are used to interacting with and engaging their fan base, the Timeline function will allow them to continue doing so in style. Ben & Jerry’s is a great example of this; running small games like “guess which flavour” is a great way to get people talking about your product, and also get them adding it to their shopping list. I know I’ll be throwing a tub of Half Baked in my shopping cart next time I’m at the supermarket.
I was also interested to see the way my friends mentions show up on the timeline; I got a blast from Christmas past with a quote from a friend in which she mentioned Ben and Jerry’s. This makes way for a more personalised and individual experience for the user.
Only time will tell if brands will sink or swim with the new layout.
What do you think? Will Timeline be unpopular with Brands? Or does it offer a whole world of new opportunity for social media marketing?
Facebook is a big fan of rearranging the furniture. And with every change comes the outcry from its users; status updates are dominated with complaints, groups pop up, it’s the end of the world as we know it… And then everything blows over and we’re suddenly cool with the changes. In fact, we usually can’t remember what Facebook was like before.
For some websites, like Digg, radical changes to the look and feel of a site can result in a catastrophic loss of your loyal followers. And yet Facebook seems immune to any such exodus; everyone uses Facebook because everyone uses Facebook.
It’s only been around for 8 years, but it’s had countless facelifts in this short time. Here’s a look back at how the old FB has changed over time, starting with its humble origins as ‘The Facebook’.
Before Facebook dropped the ‘The’, it had a pretty basic design, but the iconic blue and white design and the basic information it provided was essentially the same. It’s easy to forget that it actually started out as a way for students in US colleges to connect and share information. No Pages. No Newsfeed. No Like button.
In 2006 a basic Newsfeed was added; but we didn’t have the opportunity to litter it with inane status updates until 2008, when the publish feature was added. Facebook gifts were removed in 2007; remember when you could send one of these to a friend on their birthday?
Between 2008 and 2010 we saw what felt like endless additions and modifications. We got the ‘like’ button, which everyone immediately hated, and called for a ‘dislike’ button too. We got apps, which divided the Facebook population into Farmville players and non-Farmville players. (This also opened up Facebook to new and exciting avenues of advertising.) We also got brand pages, which was probably the point at which everyone accepted that you must to be on Facebook. It gave some businesses the opportunity to move away from the traditional website structure and be a little more social in their approach to marketing.
In 2011 there was a major upheaval of the Facebook Feed; rather then giving users chronological updates, a ‘top story’ was selected (using a seemingly arbitrary method) and the rest was neglected at the bottom of the page. A ticker was also added, at the right of the page, which gives real-time updates. This was fairly unpopular, since we seemed to be seeing a lot less Facebook activity from the people we care about, and a lot more random junk on our Newsfeed. But the most unpopular change was still to come…
The introduction of the Timeline in place of traditional profiles has caused numerous problems for users, not just because it essentially allows Facebook to dig up and display your past. Whether you want to complete your life story using the Timeline feature, or if you’d prefer to hide your less flattering moments, it’s going to be time consuming to get your profile the way you want it.
So is the Timeline just another feature that we’ll eventually learn to love? Or is this just one step too far?