Remember a few years ago when managing a company’s Facebook page was usually assigned to the youngest employee, often an intern, who may or may not have much marketing or communications experience? With the Timeline changes coming soon to Facebook, delegating downstream should no longer be considered a viable option. It’s imperative that travel marketers throughout your organization take the time to understand the power of Facebook Timelines for brands.
On March 30, all Facebook brand pages will be displayed in a new way, with a large cover photo at the top and a timeline down the right side of the page. The shift was designed to make brand pages more social and engaging; it’s now easier to tell your brand story and connect with fans. Travel marketers now need to plan how to best communicate a brand’s essence through photos, multimedia and key events. It also means it’s time to say goodbye to self-promotional Facebook posts and hello to content people want to engage with.
Here’s a summary of the changes:
To understand the new ways to visually represent your brand, check out the Facebook pages of KLM Airlines and Queensland, Australia, which have already started using the Timeline format. Aesthetic changes include a large, horizontal cover photo, smaller profile image, newly displayed tabs (now called apps) and more.
Facebook changes provide the opportunity to build out your brand story by back-dating and highlighting posts to expand the Timeline. For example, if a popular movie was made in your destination, add the date with a video clip. Hotels and attractions can post historical photos of groundbreaking, grand opening and anniversary celebrations attended by the public, asking if fans were there for the events and prompting comments. Facebook will automatically highlight posts with high interaction while allowing community managers the ability to approve and feature user-generated content in new ways. Also, fans can initiate personal conversations with brands through direct messages. Real time analytics enable you to optimize content based on fan interaction, increasing the importance of the community manager closely monitoring page activity.
Facebook advertising is an extremely effective way to increase a brand’s fan base. Now the rules are changing about how those ads can be created. An ad must begin as content on the page, meaning “sponsored content” is the new advertising methodology. Rather than producing an ad and placing it directly, brands must first post content to generate an ad. For example, write on the wall about an upcoming event or holiday celebration and then generate an ad from it. Welcome tabs will be a thing of the past so you can’t link to those, but you can still link to your tabs (apps) from Facebook ads.
Facebook and other social platforms will continue making changes to their sites and it’s important for travel brands to ensure they’re taking advantage of these new marketing opportunities. In this case, you can play around behind the scenes of your brand’s Facebook page and preview the new Timeline design. Get in there and muck around, knowing you can’t make any permanent mistakes. Just be sure to have all content elements in place before you go live.