In early September 2011, Facebook launched the new timeline feature exclusively to app developers. By December, the timeline had been made public. As of today, Facebook users have the option to adopt the new timeline or keep Facebook’s older format until Mark Zuckerberg’s soon-to-be public company decides to make the new changes permanent for all users. The new timeline for users looks like this:
Timeline: New Features
New features include the large cover photo above the fold that you see first when looking at a user’s page. On the right there is an actual timeline with years so that people can click on a specific time in your life. You are now able to add a significant event such as pictures to your birth, when you’ve broken a bone, moved in to a new apartment, bought a new car, had your first kiss, or even lost weight. As you scroll down, events and messages are lined up chronologically, likes and friends are separated by month, and application activity is separated by month. For example, check out my profile:
What Does This Have to Do With Businesses?
But what does this mean for your business or brand? According to Business Insider, the Facebook timeline is expected to roll out for Facebook Business pages on February 29. In the mean time, initial changes to Facebook overall will have effects on how businesses do Facebook marketing.
The big idea here is engagement, engagement, engagement. Now more than ever Facebook is designed for brands and businesses to engage with their consumers and fans. With the integration of Facebook timeline everything a user does is visual, even a comment or “like” is a separate event on their timeline.
Along with the timeline came several changes that marketers should be aware of, especially with the advent of a pages timeline. For instance, Facebook now has an Open Graph that allows brands to create interactive applications for users. Now instead of just “liking” a page, user can “listen,” “eat,” “drink,” etc. Some examples are the Washington Post showing what articles users have read, Spotify showing what users have listened to, and Foodspotting showing what users eat:
With the Spotify integration with Facebook, we can see what our friends are listening to and even listen with them.
The Facebook changes allow popular “Foodspotting” to show everything people are eating in one place.
Applications like these are a great way for a consumer to show brand loyalty or love for their favorite business. If a user chooses to share their experiences as a consumer of a good or service it is great exposure for businesses and brands.
In addition to these new applications, users can follow their friends in real time with the new Facebook Ticker that is on the right side of the News Feed. This allows users to see what their friends are up to at that instant, much like a Twitter feed. Again, a great place for brand and business exposure. Another new feature is the share button. Located at the bottom of a post, users can repost the link to their own timeline and the original post will show how many times people have “shared.” This is a great way to expand a brand or business’ reach on Facebook:
The News Feed has also changed now with Top Stories and Recent Stories. Recent Stories obviously means the most up to date posts by friends, while Top Stories are the ones most relevant to you since the last time you checked Facebook. Many speculate whether this new format is good or bad for brand and business pages. By the looks of it, it’s just too early to tell whether brands will be deemed “relevant” to certain users. And if they aren’t seen as “relevant” what can brands and businesses do to change that?
If you’re dying to see what a page might look like with the timeline, Mashable has some mock-ups like this one:
Overall, the new changes seem to be positive for Facebook pages. Now all we have to do is wait for them to completely roll out, but in the mean time we’ll just have to wait and see!
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