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A GUIDE TO FACEBOOK’S TIMELINE
Written by the iCrossing Social Media Team

FACEBOOK TIMELINE FOR MARKETERS: BRANDS MUST BE PUBLISHERS NOW MORE THAN EVER Facebook Timeline for brands requires marketers to prioritise content strategy and engaging experiences. Accumulating "Likes" is no longer an acceptable key performance indicator. Companies must now carefully develop editorial and engagement plans in order to use Facebook to build connected brands, or close relationships with audiences formed by being useful, usable, desirable, visible and engaging.

This document contains key learnings, updates, and several recommended next steps for marketers regarding Facebook Timeline for brands. The iCrossing Social Media team will continually test the new features in order to update our best practices and optimise effectiveness for our clients. KEY LEARNINGS: HOW THE CHANGES AFFECTS MARKETERS
On 30 March all Facebook Pages migrated to the Timeline format, providing brands with the ability to creatively personalise their Pages and expand engagement through a diverse set of post types. The Timeline update evolved Facebook into a full-scale, social marketing platform with an increased focus on three key areas:   Expression: A Page’s visual branding and narrative Reach: New ways to ensure more meaningful engagement on the web and on mobile through Pinned Posts, Friend Activity, Starred Content, Milestones and Backdating, Offers, and Open Graph applications  Response: Expanded Admin and new Message features
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These changes are most reflected in the ability to brand the Page and curate posts on the highly visual Timeline, which is a powerful story-telling and strategic tool for marketers. Timeline offers a more diverse

ICROSSING POV: FACEBOOK TIMELINE FOR BRANDS

APRIL 2012

collection of content around experiences, events, and topics that brands can capitalise on in highly engaging ways.

Timeline for Brands:   Allows for more precise definition of the brand through a more visual layout (See: Red Bull) Connects with consumers by introducing a brand’s history, meaningful stories and key milestones in Timeline (See: The New York Times and Coca Cola)  Builds stronger consumer relationships through the ability to receive and respond to direct messages, as well as monitor post-level activity through the updated Admin Panel, creating the opportunity for one-to-one and overall responsive messaging  Allows consumers to more prominently see how their Friends are engaging with the brand in three ways:   The number of Friends who have Liked the Page A view of Status Updates a Friend has written about the brand, regardless of whether they’ve Liked it or tagged it in the post    A view of Friends’ interaction with branded apps Facebook Open Graph (e.g. Spotify)

Adds a new post type called Offers, allowing brands to feature direct marketing promotions and deals on their Page (free), and as ads, which can be claimed and shared by Fans and their Friends

Makes real-time earned and paid media connections that multiply reach and engagement through “Reach Generator,” including Facebook’s updated Sponsored Stories and new premium ad units

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QUICKSTART GUIDE: 10 KEY NEW FEATURES OF TIMELINE FOR BRANDS

1. Cover Photo (850 x 315) The Cover Photo is the first image a visitor will see when arriving to the Page. Cover Photo is where creativity begins; it should be thought of as a visual status update as it sets the tone and theme for the Brand Page. Use this space as a cue of what is to come and update it regularly to keep the community fresh and inviting. 2. Profile Picture (180 x 180  32 x 32) The logo in the Profile Picture is the visual representation of the brand personality across Facebook (i.e. News Feed, ads, and off-platform social plugins) in a 32 x 32 thumbnail. The iCrossing Social Media team recommends use of the brand logo for the profile picture to ensure consistency and brand recognition. 3. About (150 characters) Promotional copy in the About section should be used to encourage the target audience to engage with the Page. Additional characters are truncated with a ‘Read More’ link. 4. Apps Thumbnails (111 x 74) Facebook Tabs are now Apps. Left navigation is replaced with four thumbnail images and a drop-down arrow, representing additional apps associated with the Page. The Photos app is fixed to the first position, leaving three configurable spaces in the default view. 5. ‘Were here’ Stat For brands that have created physical locations in Facebook Places, a metric is displayed showing the number of people that have checked-in to a brand-related location.

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6. Pinned Posts A new post strategy allows brands to curate content as a sticky post, and ‘pin’ it to the top left spot in its Timeline for up to 7 days, a prime position for above-the-fold exposure and greater engagement. 7. Friends Following the success of Sponsored Stories, the Friends box offers each visitor a unique view of all Friends who have Liked the Page. 8. Friend Activity An extension of the box above, different types of activities are displayed in this space:    A status update mentioning the brand, regardless of whether it is @tagged or not A ‘was here’ story for a check-in to a retail location Engagement via an Open Graph application – such as listening to a song on Spotify (‘friends listened) and watching a VEVO video (‘friends watched’)

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9. Starred Posts As a way of drawing attention to content below the fold, highlight a post with a star and it expands across both columns of Timeline.

10. Backdating & Milestones Through this feature, posts can tell a story in Timeline going as far back as 1000 A.D. Milestones are used for key events and achievements. ‘Change Date’ can place content on a precise day, month and year.

A DEEPER LOOK AT TIMELINE FOR BRANDS
With an increased focus on visuals in Timeline, there are many ways for brands to customise content, build audiences and engagement, and connect with influencers on Facebook. The following are some key updates the iCrossing Social Media team suggests that brands pay particular attention to. Cover Photo Cover Photo enables brands to define their personality and the message they want to communicate. Unlike the logo in the Profile Picture, Cover Photo should be regularly updated, preferably in creative ways, as it is an excellent opportunity for brands to engage their audience.

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Below are some examples of unique ways brands are using Cover Photo:  AT&T features a rotating mosaic of consumers’ photos.

The New York Times humanises their brand, showcasing staff and headquarters.

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Page Apps Timeline includes a maximum allowance of 12 apps per Page. Only three non-native apps appear above the fold and brands must strategically consider which apps to highlight in these spaces. Timeline also allows brands with retail shops to include the Maps app, which displays nearby locations based on IP address and, when available, mobile GPS. Public Insights Facebook users clicking the “Likes” app have the ability to see high-level Page Insights, which previously were available only to Page Administrators. These include:

       

‘People Talking About This’ – featured as a highlight Aggregate total ‘Likes’ – featured as a highlight ‘Most Popular Week’ ‘Most Popular City’ ‘Most Popular Age Group‘ ‘New Likes Per Week’ - graphically represented Weekly Number of ‘People Talking About’ the Page - graphically represented ‘Friends Who Like’ the page - featuring friend avatars

Timeline also displays monthly Activity posts that include People Who Like This and People Talking About This Insights. This content cannot be hidden.

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Pinned Posts Page Admins can curate engaging posts or prioritise messaging by ‘pinning’ content to the first position on the left Timeline column. By pinning a particular post with the small orange flag, the pin is made visible in two locations: 1. At the top of Timeline, for up to seven days, always preceding any new content that is subsequently posted 2. In its chronological place in the Timeline If a brand seeks to keep a post pinned for longer than seven days, it can be re-pinned for an additional seven days after the initial week expires. Only one post can be pinned at a time, although it can be changed at the brand’s discretion. Pinned posts are a great opportunity for brands to highlight important content and promote certain messages for maximum visibility and engagement.

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Starred and Hidden Stories Timeline allows brands to feature important and well-received stories by adding a star, expanding the post from a single side on Timeline to span across both columns. This feature helps consumers to quickly see what the brand finds important or interesting, and drive activity down the Page. Unlike Pinned Posts, brands can star multiple stories throughout Timeline. Additionally, Page Admins can hide or delete stories on the Timeline that are not as engaging or relevant.

Friend Activity Timeline features social mentions and Friend activity in a different format compared with previous iterations of Facebook. Consumers can quickly see their Friends’ activities and opinions in relation to the brand in a column at the top right hand side and scattered throughout Timeline. Consumers can see which of their friends already “Like” the Page and stories their friends have created about the brand. The stories pulled here are based on mentions of, and links to, brands across online properties, and will be unique to every user. Brands do not need to be @tagged to be included in this stream. Consequently, brands need to consider some critical implications. Since stories are pulled by the simple mention of a brand, the content of a Friend’s post may be of positive or negative sentiment.

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Paid Media and Marketing Facebook Timeline allows brands to tell stories while also amplifying their reach for greater ROI. There are a number of ways to utilise Facebook in this way:

Reach Generator: ‘Reach Generator’ is a service that gives marketers the opportunity to increase reach through premium placement of posts as premium ads in four locations across Facebook (on the web and on mobile), increasing the number of Fans who see branded content. Facebook guarantees that brands utilising the premium ad platform will reach, an estimated, 50% of its Fans per week and 75% of its Fans per month. Brands should consider purchasing this offering for a quarterly investment of twentyto-forty pence per Page Fan. Reach Generator allows brand placement in the following four areas:

  

On the right hand side of the homepage (1) Sponsored distribution in the Facebook News Feed on web (2) and mobile (3) On the Facebook logout screen (4) – a new offering where display ads are visible on the logout screen

Offers: This post type allows brands to feature one-click access to promotional deals on Timeline. Consumers and their friends can instantly redeem and share these promotions on Facebook. Offers, in combination with the ability to pin or star posts, are an opportunity to connect a campaign or promotion with the audience. Offers are visible as social shares on Facebook, as well as other sites. Creating an Offer is free for Page owners, just like any other post. Brands, however, can pay to boost the unit into a Sponsored Story through the Admin Panel ad tool or a premium unit, as described above.

Admin Panel The administrative features on Timeline have positive implications, particularly for customer service issue resolution. By clicking the Admin Panel at the top of Timeline, audience managers can immediately get a snapshot of Page notifications, messages and Insights. It provides a clearer dashboard to manage the Page, communicate with Fans, and evaluate key metrics and performance.

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The following are key changes to note:  Messages The ability for anyone to directly message the brand and for the audience manager to privately respond to the individual. Audience managers can also easily keep track of conversations that have occurred within the social space.  Manage Page administrators are able to edit brand page content, see banned users, and get a snapshot of the Page activity with the option: “Use Activity Log.”  Build Audience Timeline has a “Build Audience” tab on the Admin Panel, Replacing the “Create a Facebook Ad” link, which allows for the quick creation of a non-premium ad unit. Taking into consideration the greater emphasis the platform places on paid media, audience managers can quickly create Sponsored Stories based on content that is highly engaging at that moment. Timeline provides brands with a greater opportunity to leverage earned and bought media in realtime.  Referrals The Insights Dashboard is the ability to view mobile traffic referrals. Considering Facebook’s 200 million+ mobile users, access to this data – which includes mobile demographics and the types of handheld devices used to reach the site – will benefit brands looking for detailed analytics. Line graphs of mobile traffic sources include referrals from:    Feed and Timeline – via clicks directly from a user’s Feed, as well as their Timeline Notifications – via requests sent on mobile web, iOS and Android Bookmarks – Clicks to a brand’s Facebook app via Bookmarks. Facebook members can instantly see Bookmarks once logged into the app. Also, note that Bookmarks

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sync across mobile and desktop, so that the most frequently used apps are easily accessible on the site.   Search – Indicates the number of clicks to a brand’s app via direct search Unknown – redirected referrals to a brand’s App

Milestones Similar to personal profiles, which begin on a person’s date of birth, Timeline for Pages can begin on an organisation’s founding date. Brands also have the ability to populate Timeline as far back as 1000 A.D., and tell the brand story by backdating content for achievements and important events from the past. The iCrossing Social Media team recommends the use of multimedia, such as images and videos, which will expand the visual aesthetic of the page, drawing greater engagement and positively impacting EdgeRank.

THE BROADER IMPLICATIONS OF FACEBOOK TIMELINE FOR BRANDS
Focusing a brand’s efforts on greater engagement, will affect search engine optimisation via the ripple effect. Here are three areas how we believe SEO will be affected: Brand Searches With the increase in awareness around the history of a brand, we also expect an increase searches related to “brand history”. Discovering key milestones of a brand of interest will drive a content searcher either directly to Facebook for more information or to search engines to discover more about the topic.

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Brands need to ensure they own this search space by creating relevant brand history hubs on their own sites, as well as having up-to-date content on sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia. These types of queries should also be reviewed for any type of negative brand sentiment, which may require further brand management within the search results.

Social Signals As new content appears on a brand’s main website, increased engagement on Facebook allows for the greater likelihood that this new content will be shared on audience Timelines. That sharing, in turn, will send stronger signals to search engines to rank this content higher for related search terms through these increased social signals (“likes,” “shares,” etc.).

Query Freshness When Google identifies a hot trending topic it prioritises its search rankings based on what is deemed most relevant, new and popular at that time, as opposed to more traditional ranking signals.

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If a brand produces content around a trending topic (e.g. an event or breaking news), then increased sharing of that content via Facebook will, in turn, increase its visibility in search engine results pages.

Influencers iCrossing Social Media team highly recommends brands utilises Facebook to understand who their advocates are and to actively cultivate those relationships. For example, the Facebook admin panel allows brands to identify influencers more directly and serve those influencers exclusive content, including cross-links. By having influencers cross-link to their sites, brands can gain further authority (whether via traditional links or social signals) within search engines, and can simultaneously improve brand visibility for relevant keywords and search terms.

NEXT STEPS: TESTING AND LEARNING
Creativity Tells The Story Facebook Timeline allows brands new opportunities to refresh their engagement strategy. The Timeline stream should focus on content that is visually engaging, easy-to-consume and highly shareable. Here are a few ways to take advantage of the new visual changes:    Use the milestone feature to mark important events in your brand’s history Emphasise your brand story with compelling images Curate the Timeline with backdated stories to allow fans to explore moments in the brand's history, and experience them like they are fresh news.  Pin and star engaging content; promote product launches, contests, photos, Offers and announcements

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Fluid Content Calendar According to Facebook, content from brand pages has an average organic reach of 16% of the total fan base. Therefore, gaining attention on someone’s news feed can be challenging with the launch of reach generator premium ads. Brands should regularly create highly engaging content, while continuously testing and optimising it. Consequently, brands must have a populated calendar that can be quickly edited to incorporate content that is engaging and reaches their target audience.

Public Insights: Test and Learn For brands, the public Insights are important in several ways. Firstly, it is more difficult for brands to appear successful through paid media campaigns and contests, as “likes” are no longer the sole visible measurement of engagement. Secondly, the public Insights are also a good way for brands to understand how their competitors are performing. Brands should use this opportunity to create benchmarks and continue testing new types of content to measure success against their competition. Additionally, the metrics allow audience managers to identify content that is worth pinning, starring, or using as a sponsored story. Consequently, brands have the ability to maximise engagement, reach, and understand what content types get amplified in the news feed.

Final Thoughts The iCrossing Social Media team will work with brands to evolve their content strategy and create a content calendar that emphasises a test-and-learn approach to ensure the success of the timeline format.

STAY CONNECTED
Find out more at www.icrossing.co.uk Call us: (+44) 1273 827 700 Follow us on Twitter @iCrossing_UK Become a fan at facebook.com/iCrossingUK

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