Facebook has just thrown a shot across the bow of marketers who are more interested in list-building than community-building and it’s about time.
The idea behind Facebook Timeline is to create valuable content by sharing a story and connecting to fans not forcing a “like” through a tab or a banner.
Controlling blatant advertisers and keeping the platform social first with its super narrow policies that demand NO CALLS to action and NO references to “liking” or “sharing” in cover photos is such a powerful way to force brands to be social not ‘salesy’.
The Key Changes
More Carrot less stick….
Forcing a “like” in order to gain access to “premium content” was a tactic used by many Facebook pages and it is officially dead. With Facebook’s shift to a cover photo and timeline, brands must think about developing an engaging social experience with their fans more so than bribing them or using Facebook to drive action on other web properties. It gives the “social” back to social network: keep up relationships by sharing and listening.
Your new cover-photo is 810px wide instead of the old 520px wide banner. That’s your chance to win a ‘like’. No more “premium content for fans only” or contests for fans only, so get creative!
Put Social Engagement First ….
If you’re still protesting the change, then there is something you need to know: Timeline isn’t bad. In essence, it’s a way to document life and highlight important events for your brand. People like seeing how brands have grown and changed. They want to be a part of your brand story because your brand is a part of their story. If you give them interesting content they’ll engage and share.
Think of your Facebook fan page as your digital social life. Timeline makes it easier to give your fans the ability to involve you in their hangout space. because the reality is Facebook is their space to control not yours.
Engage the Open Graph
The Facebook guys started this process by integrating apps that took a “traditional web experience” and wrapped it inside the four walls of Facebook. Now, with Timeline, they are going a step further and telling you that if your brand wants to interact with Facebook-users, you will have to actually use the functions of Facebook that users are there for. This is probably the best move by Facebook to avoid the ghettoization that has plagued its competitors.
The New Strategies
Showcase Your Brand Personality:
Your cover photo matters the most. Think of it as the cool-whip on your apple pie: yes, you can live without it but if you want to spark a reaction to a fan then you must have it. There’s an “about me” section right under your cover-photo: make it memorable with one or two impactful sentences.
Ford uses the space beautifully in their new Ford Mustang page, using the iconic pony as the thumbnail and then building the full view of the mustang grill in the cover photo really hits home with mustang fans. The About continues the legendary mustang story reminding fans exactly why they like mustangs.
The day you opened is a gimme but real players in social space are figuring out how to use milestones to support their brand strategy and build customer loyalty by educating. What ways can you turn special days in your brands history, (and upcoming days in your brands future) into milestone event son timeline that make a big impact?
Lexus did a great job with this by creating “Lexus firsts” to support their brand position as an innovator they have launched a series of Facebook milestones showing every time they’ve done something first in a Lexus. this helps customers resonate with the status effect of having the car with the first “insert cool feature here”.
Build Engaging Facebook Apps that Focus on Earned Exposure:
There are four visible tabs under your cover-photo. The first one is “photos” and that’s constant, but you can change the other three, and then there’s where your “call-to-actions” come into play. Get creative drive users to your custom pages where they can engage with apps that will share their interaction with your brand with their timeline and their followers.
Coca Cola built a home and your stories tab that drives to their custom pages and that’s where the deeper engagement begins, asking customers to upload their own photos that can become Coke’s new cover image.
People are on Facebook to be social, to be entertained, and to interact with brands they actually Like. be likable. Be thankful that fans interact with you and remember that they could be doing a million other things, put their needs first on your new Facebook timeline for brands page.
What ideas are you trying on your Facebook pages? What great tools have you seen? We would love to hear from you, please leave a comment below.