Is Facebook Timeline Bad News for Brands?

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?