How Facebook Is Changing Everything: Timeline For Brands

This is the third installment in a three-post series examining recent Facebook changes and its impact on digital marketing.

Whether brands are ready or not, Timeline is rolling out to all Pages in two weeks’ time. The introduction of Timeline is the most significant new feature set Facebook has ever presented to Page owners. It’s more significant than both Open Graph Apps and Premium ads (the subjects of my two previous installments in this series); more significant than even the EdgeRank algorithm. Timeline is poised to change the way that brands approach social engagement with their audiences.

Timeline, first introduced to individual Facebook users, is a dramatic overhaul to the way content is presented across the social network. It is a vertically scrolling chronology of events, actions, status updates, and milestones. It is a brand’s history, spelled out for the world to discover and interact with. Now, Page owners can tell their brand’s story via this new, fluid, rich experience.

The most successful brands on Facebook will be masterful storytellers if the aim is to wholly realize the full potential of this new presentation layer.  And I’m not alone in that belief.

In a recent Forbes column, “Facebook Timeline for Brands: It’s about Storytelling,” CEO of Brand Networks Jamie Tedford very succinctly identified what it means for marketers to communicate successfully via Facebook now that Timeline is upon us. Tedford observed, “If you read between the lines, you’ll discover that the entire Facebook platform is organized around the generation and amplification of stories. Marketers should be singularly focused to do both effectively. Here’s how: Timeline helps brands become better storytellers and extends the reach of those stories to more customers and prospects.”

Timeline then, not only represents a massive shift in how content is served up to brand fans, but also presents a platform for the community manager to shift into the role of content curator. Additional new features allow for select status updates to be “starred” or “pinned” for greater exposure. The onus then falls to the content curator to determine which posts are pin-worthy -- all in the pursuit of greater visibility and amplification.

But Timeline is also a very elegant foundation to stitch together Facebook’s other new innovations. Open Graph Apps enhance a brand’s story by introducing more relevant expressions than the simple “Like.” Premium Ads introduce Sponsored Stories to friends of fans for wider distribution of the most popular curated content from the core Page experience. Timeline is enhanced by both of those innovations, and in turn enhances the utility of each.

As Tedford later states in his Forbes column, “…customer acquisition and retention campaigns are often linear. On the Facebook Platform, this whole process is a circle.” Timeline is a key catalyst behind that “circle”; an iterative, evolutionary communications cycle.

Brand Pages will all soon have this final, critical social puzzle piece. It turns what was previously only the world’s most popular social media network into a brand’s living, breathing social expression and destination.

Facebook is now on the cusp of changing everything in the communications space.

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