What does the new Facebook timeline mean for brands?

Over the past couple of months, Facebook has been making some not-so-subtle changes to the way its pages look and the way they are design and worked. There is no doubt that you will have seen others with this exciting new layout, or even adopted it yourself, but an important announcement came recently that not only forces the remaining resistant individuals (i.e. me!) to adopt this layout, but also forces brands, who have previously been uninvolved to allow the same changes to occurr on their page.

It’s the new-look Facebook timeline!

After threatening the change for the last few months, the time has finally arrived for brand pages and will hit computers, macs and laptop screens around the world by the 31st of March.

But what does this change mean to brands already established on Facebook?

– Initially it is set to be more challenging due to its unusual layout, the new Facebook layout differs from the forum like nature of the previous brand pages. This said, the new layout does make it easier for brands to create content that shows in people’s timelines. So their loss of control, is a chance for you to gain promotion!

– Brands who have got by so far without creating their own content, will find the new layout particularly scathing, it will illustrate a lack of posts and content. It will show how little engagement they’ve had and make their audiences move away to more engaging brands. This is why it is essential to plan some posts for when the timeline is unveiled, that will get people talking, use these and keep your page up to date.

– Some brands are bound to see the timeline as an opportunity to have a micro site, but this isn’t what its about. Although your timeline should be a highly engaging content channel, the content should always be moving, through updates and posts. You want other people to share your information rather than spending all their time reading it. Keep your content interesting and exciting, but short enough for users to share it with their friends, and other brands.

– This new timeline will give brands the opportunity to re-visit, re-vamp or really change their social media strategy. Remember that Facebook is a tool for communication, and make sure you use it for this, by sending people who arrive their to your other websites through interesting articles and links. It’s a two-way communication tool between you and your audience, and you should take advantage of the possibilities it opens up for you, directly address what people have said on your wall to show that you listen, and care. Although the layout has changed, its purpose remains the same, so make sure your current strategy is working, and if it isn’t, change it!

– Your timeline image, situated at the top of your page, is a massive area specifically dedicated to you. Use it wisely! It stretches across the top of your browser, and is the first thing visitors to your page will see, and they will form opinions based on what you display there. Pick an image that best represents your brand and put it up there. Make sure that all your cover photos are professionally done, this is your chance to show your brand in the best way you can, on the largest section of the page, so it’s got to be good.

– Before you make the change to the timeline, get your dates together and mark anything of interest or importance. This can be anything from when your business was founded, to when staff members joined, when you moved to your new office or added new services to your business. People love the human side of businesses, (especially some gossip if you have it!), so play on that and show it off!

– Give your page a spruce up before the timeline feature comes about, check out your address, is it correct? Is it pinpointed on the map correctly? Is your profile picture appropriate? Did anything happen on your page in the past that you don’t want people to remember? (the new timeline feature makes it really easy to go far back in time without scrolling through mountains of text) What about your admins, do you need that many? Do you need to add more? The more you have, the less you can control content, but on the other hand the more content there will be!

– If you have utilised tabs within your Facebook page, this new layout may be a bit of a nuisance for you, details about what will happen to your current tabs aren’t completely decided, but experts are suggesting the tabs you have, will be scrapped to make room for custom apps (this has already happen for individual users timelines). This can be a great way to build an enthusiastic community, who download apps all about your brand. Initially though, don’t get put out if the time comes and all your tabs disappear..

Although there does seem a lot to do to prepare your page before your timeline hits, don’t worry spend restless nights worrying about it. As with all of Facebook’s hair-brained schemes, it will happen gradually, giving you lots of time to organise, design and display your timeline, promoting your brand in the best way to the best people.

Good luck! And let us see your timelines!

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