Facebook announced some pretty significant changes to its business proposition. Not only is Timeline now available to brands through the revision of Facebook Pages, the social network has also made some major changes to its advertising platform.
In isolation, these updates have a big impact. In combination, they offer businesses an even more powerful marketing tool.
Timeline for Facebook Pages:
First things first, Timeline functionality needs to be integrated into your company’s Facebook Page by 30th March. That doesn’t leave much time to get things right. So if you’ve only got time for one take-out… get cracking!
And now back to basics… Timeline is Facebook’s new profile setting. Having been used by personal accounts since late 2011, it is now available to brand pages. The chosen few given early access include Coca Cola, Starbucks, Manchester United and The New York Times, with the latter two providing shining examples of how to successfully apply Timeline in a branded context. But what are the branded Timeline’s key features?
- Cover and profile image – A new cover photo sits at the top of your page and spans the width of it (850x315px). A smaller profile image remains (30x30px); typically this would be a brand logo
- Apps – The design of the page highlights four apps/tabs along the top of the profile. The ‘Photos’ tab is standard for all pages but others are interchangeable. You are allowed to host a maximum of 12 apps, which can be viewed by using the scrolling down button provided
- About information – The page functionality now allows to you to highlight key information such as location, phone number and opening hours below the profile image. Further ‘about information’ is subtly available via an ‘About’ link
- Timeline – As the name suggests, the new page functionality is designed in timeline form. You can scroll down to view activity or milestones at different times. Page owners also have the ability to expand posts and feature them more heavily on the page
- Private messages – Visitors to pages can now privately message page owners
- Admin panel – Management of pages is now done through a dedicated ‘Admin Panel’. Here, page owners can receive notifications on page activity, understand page insights, see a log of page owner activity and easily navigate ways to build the page’s audience through Facebook advertising, for example
- Facebook has removed the functionality of landing pages. This means welcome page ‘fan gates’ are no longer an option
Facebook Advertising changes
From today, Facebook will present advertisers with five new advertising options, as outlined below. These help promote on-page fan activity much more and enable advertisers to share content, discounts and promotions with their Facebook fans.
- Advertising now appears on people’s News Feeds
- Advertising now runs on the right-hand side of your homepage
- Advertising now appears on people’s mobile News Feeds
- Advertising now appears when people log out of Facebook
- Advertising can now promote individual product offers
So what does all this mean? Top line: There is an immediate requirement to redesign your business Facebook Page.
This is not an overly complicated process but you do need to ensure all information is correct whilst prioritising aspects that give greatest business benefits. This includes highlighting important individual messages more prominently. Also, companies now have a unique opportunity to promote and leverage history, including emphasising key milestones.
This should primarily be seen as Facebook’s move to help increase engagement with pages… whilst also giving Zuckerberg et al an opportunity to increase advertising revenue.
But putting cynicism aside for a moment, Facebook is ultimately encouraging companies to be more interesting with their updates. And that’s no bad thing. Greater content = greater engagement = greater business results.
Throw advertising into the mix, however, and you’ll receive even stronger results. Facebook’s ability to finely target users with awareness-driving advertising is the perfect complement to branded Timeline activity.
These updates are Facebook’s way of arguing that the platform should be central to a business’s overall marketing strategy. It provides a hub for company information, interesting content, great offers and opportunities for consumers to get in touch. The relationships a consumer has with its favourite brands are, ultimately, as important as the relationships it has with its friends.
Facebook’s latest moves fall in line with a wider social media trend that, to coin an awfully overused phrase, “content is king”. If your business establishes and manages a presence whilst investing in engaging and shareable content, you will reap the benefits. This is echoed by other social media platforms like Google+, Twitter and Pinterest.
A well planned and executed social business strategy should see more budget invested in interesting and sharable content such as video, photography, infographics and so on. Couple this with advertising to drive awareness around the content, and you have a very powerful campaign.
But to make a success of the ‘content + advertising = powerful marketing’ equation, businesses really need to invest and engage heavily and continuously. And that’s because, thanks to Facebook’s overnight changes, the age of community engagement is now truly upon us.
Jonny Rosemont, head of social media at search and social media agency, DBD Media (www.dbdmedia.co.uk)