By far the biggest news of last week was the announcement by Facebook to roll out the Timeline feature to all brand pages. Or maybe it was just the biggest news of the week for me. While others were riveted by the continuing presidential primary season, the latest basketball score, or which contestant was going to score a spot on Adam Levine’s team on The Voice, I (and many others here at Cookerly), was devouring article after article on the move to Timeline, and what it means for Pages.
At the highest level, this move will change the way companies communicate with consumers and the way marketing teams build strategies. At a micro level, Timeline will force companies to restructure their Pages to meet the new design specs and features.
For those of you who may have missed the news, here are some highlights in a nutshell:
The Timeline format that has become the standard for personal Facebook pages is now making its way to brand pages – meaning brands will have cover photos, the ability to put in milestones by years, and the bolder, more visual two-column layout that you see on your personal page now. Beyond the look and layout, there are a host of other changes that will truly impact the way brands can – and should – use Facebook to communicate with their fans, both present and potential.
- Messages: One of the most interesting and exciting to me includes the ability of Page managers to now direct message individual fans. But that means the reverse is true as well: fans can now message Page admins anytime they want. For brands that are already succeeding in customer service on Facebook, this is an exciting enhancement. For those who may not have yet mastered that element, or who aren’t prepared to conduct customer service in the social area, there’s no more time to waste in getting prepared.
- Milestones: With the Milestones feature, your profile and history on Facebook doesn’t have to start with the day you set up your Page. You can now capture historical moments in the life of your brand, and share them with your fans. Tell your story in photos, words and pictures beyond the usual Wall post.
- Missing Gates: If you have created a landing page or a contest for your Page, you probably used those features as a “Like Gate” to capture new fans – you know , those arrows and “Like Us” graphics that drive people to click to Like before entering other areas of the Page. With the new Timeline format, those directed landing pages will be no more.
These are a few of the individual feature changes, but they don’t capture the larger impact of Timeline, which goes well beyond the changes to tabs and addition of a cover photo. Last week, we put together a whitepaper to discuss the larger-scale changes as we see them – and it’s not about layout and pretty pictures, but rather a true shift in how brands need to market to their publics on Facebook to be successful. Take a look and let us know if you agree (PDF download).
The bottom line is, the wheels have been set in motion, and the calendar is ticking off to March 30, the day when Facebook forces all of its brand pages to switch to the new format. Will you be ready?