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I’ll admit it - I was not initially a big “fan” (pun intended) of Facebook’s announcement of the mandatory switch to the Timeline format for brand pages. And with the various new ways a brand would be able to engage through free and paid tools, I wasn’t sure if it would be more difficult for small businesses to be seen amid the larger brands that their fans also followed.
As we have developed cover images and tested the new features with our clients, I have discovered four reasons to love the Brand Timelines, no matter what size business you have.
- Pictures are worth 1,000 words
There is no denying how much more photos or video stand out in your Timeline than they did previously. Big, colorful images tell stories about your business, your customers, your employees, etc. that can’t be described in a text post alone. Photos are an easy way to create new content and I’m always encouraging clients to shoot photos whenever they have a chance. And you never know when you’ll capture a perfect shot to use in other marketing efforts.
- Highlight what’s important to your brand
If you have not tried it yet, the new Timeline format allows you to “pin” a post to the top of your Timeline for up to 7 days, with newer posts appearing just under the pinned post.
It also allows you to “highlight” a post, which makes the post the entire width of your Timeline, certainly drawing more attention to it than other posts around it. What’s important about these two new easy-to-use features is that it gives you more control over what people will see and hopefully engage with some sort of follow-up (like, comment, question, etc.).
- Cover image rules don’t have to limit you
Facebook released a number of rules for what cannot be included in the new cover image for a brand’s Timeline – including no website URL, no call to action, no prompts to “Like” or “Share”, and no specials or pricing. So how do you encourage engagement without being able to ask for “likes” or direct people to a Welcome tab? Just as you would with any other marketing piece - tell a great story about your brand. You can feature customers, project/product samples, photography taken by your employees, behind-the-scenes shots of your business, etc. It is a great opportunity to show off your brand personality.
- Reveal your history
Milestones offer a way to showcase important moments in your company’s history, allowing you to post milestones from as far back as 1800. From company founding to name changes and product launches, users can easily track those moments that have made your company what it is today. Milestones also give you another great reason to post photos – because who doesn’t enjoy seeing the company president back when he had sideburns?
Some brands have had fun with this, adding a bit of fictional storytelling with their milestones. Old Spice is a good example of how creative you can be.
It remains to be seen how effective the new ways brands can pay for additional exposure on Facebook will work - such as turning a post into a paid ad or utilizing the new Reach Generator to increase the chances your page’s posts will show up in your fans’ news feeds. And I’m not sure how feasible it will be for small businesses to compete financially with larger brands for that extra exposure. But with a little imagination and some effort, any brand can make an effective splash with their new Timeline page.