Status update: Facebook’s Timeline gains steamWritten by Kevin Cesarz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you were prepared or not, Facebook switched to its Timeline format on March 30.
Communicating your message on Facebook now has two distinct tracks: Pay to Play (Sponsored Stories and Facebook Ads) and Play (engaging your audience in the Newsfeed).
Previously, your company could share status updates, photos and links but they disappeared into the ether in a few days, if not a few hours. Now companies can add Milestones and tell their story — as well as yours. Milestones are custom status posts that can be permanently anchored in your profile.
Your brand’s Milestones can be specific to the company (when the company was founded, opened a new location, switched to a new logo or ownership, etc.) or even better, your brand’s Milestones can focus on sharing the timeline of your customers.
Some brands do a great job of using their Timelines — going back decades and even a few hundred years — to share an iconic image and a story.
Did your company have a significant event in 1983? Maybe not, but your customers probably had a milestone. Be creative and blend a story into a random date. ACDelco creates a Milestone in its Timeline of a downed military plane in 1944 with a recovered submerged battery that still cranked in 1996. Coca-Cola creates a Milestone in its Timeline of a fan telling the story of “At the moment Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon (July 20, 1969), I opened a can of Coke to always remember what I was doing at that exact moment in history.”
Facebook maximized the display options for its new ad canvas beginning with the beautiful 830-pixel-wide cover images. Facebook’s terms and conditions caution users not to use the cover image for overt messaging, sales language of other marketing call-outs. So use this space to connect to your customers with one clear, vivid storytelling image. The cover image should definitively say “this is what we do.”
Milestone events in the new Timeline also have the same display options — a two-column, 830-pixel-wide image, with a title, date, location and story. This is a tremendous opportunity to splash your story in front of your fans in a very social way.
In the Facebook Timeline, your brand is saying that it shares a similar timeline with its fans.
If you are aware of how Facebook’s paid components work, you can probably understand why Timeline is so important and will ultimately be so effective. Facebook’s paid campaigns (Sponsored Stories and Facebook Ads) are intended to reach users who have similar interests to your followers so that they match more accurately against the massive Facebook profile database. Sponsored Stories and Facebook Ads can be found in the right-hand rail of your Facebook newsfeed.
So you can pay to move a story in front of your followers or you can have them select what is meaningful or important to them — a birthdate, an anniversary, or a significant milestone. You’re already sharing your interests on Facebook, you’re now assigning dates to the important moments — dates that everyone shares in common.
Although the main focus of Facebook is the venerable newsfeed, building a solid Timeline is an investment in your fans. This is where you share your stories and little stories passed on day-to-day are what Facebook is all about.
Kevin Cesarz is the digital strategy leader at Communica Inc. He also helps create storytelling content for MrElshMedia. Find more ideas about social media at klcesarz.wordpress.com.