You’ve likely read this past week that Facebook’s Timeline is coming to a brand page near you in the not too distant future. Hopefully, this wasn’t overly shocking. After all, Timeline has been available to early adopters since September and the chatter has been all the buzz within the blogosphere about what this change will mean for brands when Facebook deems it’s ready to change all.
With any luck, you’ve been actively having conversations about Timeline in preparation for the shift. We have. Here’s a sampling of some of the questions we’ve been asked by clients: What exactly is Timeline? How will this affect our fans? What will our page look like? How does this change our engagement strategy? What will our page look like? What about our apps? How do we measure Timeline? If we don’t change right away, will people be able to find us? Why does Facebook keep changing?
All fair questions. Keep ‘em coming, we’re happy to address them all. In short, I can tell you there are two things we’ve been telling our clients:
- Timeline is an awesome opportunity for you. This change is a good thing – embrace it.
- That being said, Timeline, or any other change Facebook makes, won’t mean squat if you aren’t properly engaging with your fans.
Ok – the easy answer first… why change is good. Keep in mind the specifics of what exactly Timeline will mean for brands is still a bit unclear so we’re making some assumptions. First of all, the overall appearance will likely mirror personal pages. Have fun with this. Your cover photo is great real estate. Change it daily to highlight customers, new products, user-generated images, employees of the week, contests – anything fresh! And when you’re not changing it up, coordinate the two images. Need some inspiration – check out how fun these pages look.
Early on in my career while working as a PR counselor, I used to have such a hard time convincing clients that a photo plus caption in the paper was a much greater opportunity than a full-blown story. And I wasn’t saying this because my efforts only yielded a photo and was forced to try and muster up some excitement for said placement. I was constantly trying to convince folks that this was a good thing because it really was. There are countless studies showing how we learn. And in its simplest form, a pretty picture with a sentence or two is more memorable and will capture our attention much faster than some long story. Same concept applies here. You’ll have the opportunity to highlight beautiful images. Choose wisely and let them tell your story.
Secondly, Timeline is now an endless scroll of content. It’s your brand’s digital scrapbook. This is your story and your opportunity to make an emotional connection with consumers. So make it a good one. Take some time when you fill this out and don’t be boring. Share fun facts, video, images, stories – really humanize the brand. Highlight big launches, hires, customers, memories and moves. Timeline gives a great peek behind the curtain. Don’t just share stale press release stuff. And know that because it’s never-ending on the page, you’re likely to keep your fan’s attention to your page that much longer. So give them a reason to stay and engage.
Of course there are several other reasons as to why brands should rally behind Timeline – these are just some of our favorites. But as aforementioned, none of it matters if you aren’t properly engaging on Facebook. So here’s our pledge to you: If you agree to stop thinking about Facebook as a numbers thing, worrying about how many fans you have and give up the belief that if you build it, they will come (and then keep coming back just because you’re brand XYZ ignoring the fact that you rarely visit or engage on your page) then we’ll tell you the secret of Facebook.
Ok – there are no secrets amongst friends so we’ll just tell you as it’s really not rocket science, yet everyone wants to make it as such. Look, to be successful on Facebook, learn about your audience before you do anything. Are they even on Facebook? Do they want you on there? If so, how do they want to engage with you? And once you really have a clear understanding of the digital persona of your audience, keep asking yourself questions. What’s your content strategy? Are you just talking about yourself non-stop or actually sharing useful content people want that will help solve a need? Are you providing some type of utility, some genuine resource? Who is your community manager (hopefully not an intern or recent grad)? How does Facebook tie in to your overall marketing communications strategy? Is customer service looped in? What’s your social preparedness plan? Are people getting real responses versus canned ones? Do you have some type of buy in place to support your page? Are you giving people a real reason to come back and engage with you after the apps fade and the coupons expire?
All of the above are very doable. And even more so with Timeline. You just may need to tweak your thinking a bit and be willing to make some changes. Think of this pre Timeline time as your ramp up. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
I look forward to your questions and comments and hey, why not check out Rosetta’s Facebook page? We can’t wait for our Timeline!