Facebook Launches Timeline for Pages

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Unless you live under a rock, you’re aware that Facebook’s Timeline for Pages is here. I’m not sure if the announcement was met by a collective cheer or one big groan, but one thing’s for sure: the brand experience on Facebook is about to change in a big way.

Timeline offers a number of advantages compared to traditional pages, one being the layout’s visual appeal. TechCrunch’s How to Use Timeline coverage is a terrific overview and I love how they’ve captured the visual nature of the new pages. Like the personal timelines that many of us have been using since they rolled out, brands can now choose a cover photo that offers a lot more visual real estate. The interface looks cleaner and infinitely more compelling, and creates an opportunity for brands to tell their stories in a way that’s heretofore not been afforded. And when you think about it, isn’t that the goal of a site like Facebook or any social media channel—brand storytelling? If that’s not your goal, it should be.

Brands can also take advantage of other Timeline features, too, like Pinned Posts, which are essentially featured stories, or Milestones, which can help showcase company history, milestones and achievements. We may be in the minority (at least at this point), but we like the new Timeline features and think they go a long way toward allowing brands to create more interesting, engaging, vibrant pages and to embrace brand storytelling, content marketing and the process of humanizing their brands in a more robust manner.

Yet the change doesn’t come without stuff that is, well, kind of annoying. Traditional landing pages are now obsolete (which is super, because we’ve just recently designed and launched about five of them—sigh). So, obviously, you’ll likely have to rethink your strategy there.

I know it’s tempting to slap up a cover photo and convert your page now, before Facebook’s mandatory transition deadline of March 30. But my advice is to do just the opposite. Be patient – don’t do it! Instead, take a step back and do your homework. Get to know Timeline and what it can do for your page—and your strategy. Watch what other brands are doing and read what are sure to be countless blog posts dissecting the concept of Timeline for Brands and learn from what others are doing. I’m an early adopter in many instances, but when it comes to changes like this—big ones—sometimes I like to sit back, watch and absorb. And that usually pays off in spades, because when we do it, we learn from the experiences of others and do it right the first time. I’m a fan of that.

Want to know more? I’ve shared two posts on Timeline above that are great resources. My other favorites on Timeline for Pages are SocialMouths’ Francisco Rosales’ The New Facebook Page: All the Juicy Details and Kikolani’s New Facebook Pages With Timeline Design, so maybe those can be some weekend reading for you.

There’s a lot more to Facebook strategy—and digital marketing overall—than what looks pretty on the outside—or being satisfied with the same old, same old that we’re used to. And while we collectively gripe and moan about change, the reality of the digital space is that change is pretty much a given.

Facebook Timeline for Pages design presents the opportunity for an entirely new Facebook experience. But it’s important to remember that it’s still up to brands to decide how they can leverage their content in order to encourage engagement and conversation, which are the true goals when it comes to Facebook marketing. And it makes sense—if you post an eye-catching photo or a random status update but no one talks about it, what’s the point?  What value is the business deriving from that? Well, we all know the answer to that one.

If you’re a Facebook admin, you’ve likely noticed the new message at the top of your page that details the transition. As mentioned earlier, you have until March 30 to make the switch—after that, Facebook will do it for you. You can play around with changes; nothing will be final until you hit the “Publish Now” button. You can also take a tour of the new features, something I recommend spending some time doing. In addition to understanding new page elements and features, you’ll also experience a new administrative dashboard that may take a little getting used to. But we’re already loving the at-a-glance insights—and predict you will, too.

The bottom line? Sure, Timeline for pages likely means extra work for you and your team. Yet look on the bright side. This is an exciting opportunity to improve your brand messaging on Facebook, regardless of your business size. Change is never easy, but it can be downright exhilarating—and Timeline might just be the kick in the rear some of us need to dig deep into Facebook strategies and truly leverage what the site can do.

Are you excited about Timeline for pages? Or just the opposite? Let loose in the comments below. And if you’ve noticed any particularly creative approaches to Timeline for pages, I’d love it if you’d share a link.

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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Great point that you should get comfortable with Timeline before launching it.  Some users have made the switch, but many still haven’t and aren’t sure how to navigate it yet.  For brands especially, it provides lots of new opportunities that old pages didn’t.  It’s just a matter of spending some time getting used to it and making sure that the brand is conveyed accurately.  

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Nick. I’m always amazed by how many times people just jump in, without first getting the lay of the land. It will be interesting to see how this develops, for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/JGoldsborough JGoldsborough

    Shelly, I think you are right on regarding visual storytelling. Ford is doing a great job of this. We are getting to the point where at least 7 or 8 of every 10 brand posts on FB should include a photo. Also agree with the wait and see attitude. I strongly encouraged clients to go that route on Google+ and many have yet to devote a ton of time there because other efforts proved more beneficial. Cheers!

    • Anonymous

      Agree re visual importance when it comes to brand storytelling, Jeff. Very much looking forward to seeing what comes of this – as I know you are, too!

  • http://martinabenova.wordpress.com/ M Benova

    I think it is a great idea to wait. Even though one month won’t bring about a lot of innovations from different businesses on the Timeline, it is better than going in with a blind fold on. In an article that I was reading the other day, it said that companies are still obsessing over the number of “likes” their page gets. Maybe with this new Timeline, they will be more engaged to put meaningful content on their page and make it a more interactive experience for their fans. Thanks for the post. 

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