Now that Facebook Timeline is finally available for brands, companies have access to powerful new marketing tools that will change the way they do business online.
The new redesign features the same glossy cover photo and media-rich layout as personal Timelines, but has a functionality that goes well beyond anything we’ve seen before. Brands now have unprecedented control over their content and how they interact with customers online. It’s a complete overhaul of the Facebook pages we know and love, with messaging capabilities, Premium Ad products and an admin panel that’s actually user-friendly.
Brands have until March 30, 2012 to make the switch, so you have plenty of time to get to know the new features. Here are some of the big changes to keep in mind:
Premium Ad Products
Facebook’s logout page will soon be transformed into an enormous digital billboard, ripe for advertisements. According to Facebook, 37 million people hit that logout page every day, making it the perfect space for a Sponsored Story. Logout Ads are part of a new suite of Premium Ad products, which also includes Sponsored Stories in both the news feed and mobile news feed.
Because the new Premium Ad products are so content-focused, brands will need to work hard to make their page an engaging destination. And the more a brand is willing to spend on showcasing their best content, the more interactions that content will have, and the more engaging their page will be.
Facebook rewards engaging pages by making it more likely for users to see all of the page’s content, whether it’s been boosted by paid placement or not. Brands with great content but no ad budget will have a hard time being seen in users’ newsfeeds.
Just like with personal Timelines, brands now have a visual history that people can engage with. It’s great for ‘telling the story,’ as Facebook would say, but no company’s past is 100% positive. Brands will need to sift through their past posts and hide (or deal with) anything that reflects poorly on them, like unresolved negative comments.
Once you’ve cleaned up the past, it’s time to focus on the present. Brand-generated stories are now aggregated, so the most popular content will rise to the top. That means you’ll need to keep PR-related issues in check. If you don’t deal with problems right away, you run the risk of having them snowball and land front and centre on your Timeline.
Goodbye, Landing Pages
Brands can no longer select a tab or app to be the default landing page for prospective fans. Now, everyone lands on the Timeline. Administrators do have the ability to ‘pin’ key posts or notices to the top of a page’s wall, or ‘highlight’ posts, stretching them across the whole width of the page, but it’s not quite as effective.
Landing pages were often used to control the user’s first impression of the company, but they were also used to feature contests and giveaways. So not only will brands will have to keep close watch on the look and feel of their Timeline, they’ll also have to rely more on paid or earned media for special promotions.
Brands can now communicate with their fans through private messages and respond as the brand, which is something they couldn’t do before. This deepens customer engagement and takes detailed inquires and concerns off the Timeline and into a private message.
Brands will soon be able to create coupons directly in Facebook. Known as ‘Offers,’ they can be posted to a brand’s Timeline, promoted within Sponsored Stories or reposted and shared on individual users’ Timelines.
Timeline’s fancy new admin panel hides and expands on command, which means you don’t have to navigate away from the page to make changes. The panel includes page activity, chart-based performance data and even a help center. And in a few weeks, page administrators will have access to real-time results for People Talking About This and Page post metrics, including Reach and Engaged Users. For marketers, that means you’ll soon be able to see what’s going on in your pages and tweak your content and advertising for maximum results.