There’s a massive amount of buzz coming out of fMC, Facebook’s conference for marketers, with a heavy focus on new ad models and placement opportunities. The real story – the one with the greatest impact on both brands and Facebook users – is the start of the 30-day clock on the mandatory rollout of Facebook Timeline for Brands.
Just like Timeline for individual users is intended as a way to more completely tell personal stories, Timeline for brands is all about telling the brand story. The redesign shifts the focus off of the previously ubiquitous contest and promotion-heavy landing tabs, and onto the story of the brand itself as told through photos, videos, and posts.
From a content marketing perspective, here are four major takeaways to consider:
Brand posts live forever – curation is not an option
Pre-Timeline, the primary intent of brand posts was to get in fan Newsfeeds with content compelling enough that they clicked through or “engaged” (liked, shared, or commented). To get in the Newsfeed, you had to navigate the joys of EdgeRank, Facebook’s mysterious algorithm for how and when brand posts appear in user feeds. Recency of the content was a huge consideration in EdgeRank, lest the post get buried under the avalanche of friend updates, social news links, and strange cat meme photos that make up the bulk of user Newsfeeds.
However, once the post was up and the initial fan interaction with it subsided, it essentially ceased to be relevant – it just faded into Facebook oblivion.
But with Timeline that all changes. The lifetime of a post just became infinite, turning brand’s entire history of posts collectively into a single unifying brand story. While there will always be an element of recency to consider, it’s the timelessness of posts that will increasingly influence brand content strategies for Facebook. Fans and non-fans will be able to explore past posts, dig around in old promotions, discover and engage with content the marketer thought long dead. Curation is therefore incredibly important – if your posts live forever, and tell your brand story in ways you perhaps never considered, the obligation is on you the marketer to curate that vast backlog of historical posts to ensure they tell the *right* story.
The infinite nature of posts also opens up the ability for iconic brands, and those with fascinating backstories, to connect far more deeply with their fans. Look for a lot of experimentation in the coming weeks and months with in depth storytelling through Timeline.
Social proof is the new hotness
Since the advent of the “Like” functionality, social proof has been central to the Facebook experience. With Timeline, it just got a whole lot more important, along with the need to create truly remarkable, compelling, and engaging content for your brand. Hit a brand’s new Timeline page, and you’ll quickly see which of your friends like it and what content from that brand they are engaging with. Or stay tuned for the next wave of advertising on Facebook, which is entirely centered on brand stories (posts) and the way your friends are interacting with them.
While getting fans to engage with content has always been a goal for brands, it’s now more critical than ever.
Visuals are more important than ever
Check out XBOX’s new brand page, and tell me that header image isn’t dramatic. Or that Manchester United’s header wouldn’t give fans the chills. Try scrolling down Ford’s new page and not get drawn in by the dominant, full-width photos. Posts without photos or visuals will get lost in the mix, and you can expect photos to become part of the standard post as Timeline adoption spreads. Likewise, as posts (or stories) become central to advertising on Facebook, photos that stand out among the clutter and add value to the post will become increasingly important.
Tabs just took a serious backseat to content
Until now, tabs played an enormous role in most people’s experience with brands on Facebook. Hit a brand page for the first time, and chances are you saw a “like this for exclusive access!” promotion of some flavor. With the demise of the default landing tab, and the relatively obscure placement of tabs in the new Timeline layout, expect to see a lot less investment by brands in tabs and a lot more investment in the quality, depth, and frequency of their Timeline content.
Shockingly (for a content agency) at Pace we tend to think remarkable content plays an incredibly important role in telling brand stories and connecting with customers. With the advent of Timeline for Brands, it’s clear Facebook agrees. Compelling brand stories, told through beautiful visuals and a deep history of curated posts, are more important than ever for connecting with your community on Facebook.
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