Facebook Timeline: 5 things PR pros should know (update)

The new feature rolled out on Wednesday, and many community managers are scrambling to wrap their heads around it. Let us help.


Wednesday marked a big change for those of us who manage brand pages on Facebook. Earlier this week, I gave some tips on how brands will be able to use Facebook Timeline. Well, the format is now available, and several brands are early adopters.

Here are a few:

Coca-Cola
Dove
Starbucks
Walmart
The Today Show
New York Times
Livestrong

Facebook released an introduction and a basic how-to.

Here are five things from the new Timeline feature that PR pros and marketers should be paying attention:

Tabs

Among the major changes is the fact that brands no longer have separate default landing pages for their Facebook presence. So all those dollars you put toward that welcome tab … sorry.

You’ll also need to update the icons for your tabs if you don’t want them to look terrible—so get cracking, PR pros!

Storytelling

The theme of “storytelling” has also come up. Whether it’s populating your company history through milestones or coming up with new ways to tell your brand’s story in the present, it’s been the major takeaway in this transition.

But if you look at those brand pages that have transitioned to timeline, no one is doing anything particularly innovative—yet.

Red Bull sponsored a contest of sorts by sending users back through its timeline. But if you look at the actual post, the engagement was way down for a page with 27 million fans.

Verizon has found an interesting way to change up its cover photo regularly, and you’ll see some other brands follow suit.

Apps

Among the major changes is how timeline treats apps. There are now three apps (plus photos) that appear “above the fold,” so marketers will need to think strategically about which they feature.

You can no longer direct users to a branded landing page, so everything that appears toward the top of your page becomes increasingly important. This is the first impression many will have of your brand. Not everyone is happy about this. Wired points out a few frustrated brand managers who say that landing tabs were “proven to work.”

One way to control the first messages your users see is to pin posts that you want people to see at the top of the page.

Emphasis on photos

It’s unlikely that the open-ended questions and fill-in-the-blank posts that generated so much chatter in the past will get the same attention in timeline without a photo attached. With so much showing up in news feeds, those posts without some captivating image will tend to get lost in the shuffle.

Private messages

Brand managers will need to become very familiar with the Admin Panel in timeline. This is where you’ll start to see direct messages from your fans—prompt response to negative messages will keep these types of posts off your wall. And we could all use fewer negative posts on our walls.

For more on the changes, visit Mashable and Business Insider.

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