Timeline for Brands (more than just a facelift)

by Travis Ketchum · 2 comments

Facebook let loose some awesome updates for their brand experience pages today.

You should definitely go to your fan pages and enable the new timeline feature, but be aware of the new tweaks to how to engage your audience in the very near future.

Something brilliant happened today, and it enabling timeline for bands is only part of the story. Facebook found a way to get companies to pay the piper in order to get the audience they worked so hard to have “like” their page to actually see their content and effectively jump to the front of the edgerank line.

Facebook is claiming a 5-10x increase in click through ratio’s (CTR’s) with, as they are dubbing it, “Facebook Premium”.

The move isn’t overly surprising, but it’s a great way to get more brands to care about their advertising product.

As they put it on stage toda, “Ads are good but stories are better”.

They basically just found a way to enable the main pillars of their PR nightmare called “facebook beacon” while exciting people instead of sending them into an upset frenzy.

Well played Facebook.

How Facebook Premium Works

Essentially, Facebook premium exists for you to keep your story at top of the newsfeed.

This has been hinted at with leaks about the Facebook ad team had been pitching that Timeline wouldn’t necessarily organize things chronologically but rather by which stories and events had brand funding behind them. Clever bastards.

Brands have a few places where they can draw attention to their stories, and in essence their content and message.

1. Sidebar placement

This one is natural as it follows most of the rules as traditional ads, but a slightly different format from what I can tell.

Users will see a story from your page that has been promoted in the sidebar of their main dashboard. Facebook claims a 3x improvement in CTR’s.

To me, this is essentially the same as being between position 3 to 5 in Google AdWords. Which means you will see a meaningful bump in what you are trying to stimulate but position one and two are the money spots to be at, which brings me to the next option.

2. Newsfeed placement

This is where most of the big brands are going to want to play. Think Toyota, Brisk and major media promotions such as the scale we saw when Avatar came out.

It will undoubtedly be the most expensive way to play, but like almost everything else in this world you get what you pay for. Besides more traction in general, Facebook claims a 5-10x increase in CTR’s would should have the bigger social media agencies out there salivating that they can now buy eyeballs in a way they (and their clients) can understand.

3. Logout placement

The speaker even joked about this one when announced, saying something to the effect of “Why Logout?”. But the reality is that with the sheer scale of Facebook there are many, many millions of people who click logout every single day, so as a good business they should be capitalizing on this opportunity.

If people are going to be leaving your site anyway, you might as well show them an offer to let them click away and have you get paid.

This general strategy has been used by many marketers who put AdSense in the footer of their websites because the bounce rate increased so dramatically in that area of the site that they might as well show the leaving visitor a path that pays the website owner.

Why it matters as you grow

Growing the social ties to your website or brand is an awesome way try and keep people engaged, but it’s far from perfect.

Up until now though, it’s been hard to reach the full audience of people who had expressly indicated they “liked” what you were up to.

Let me by extremely clear about something, the best way to build a strong relationship with your customers that you control is to build an email list. Period.

My preferred method of gathering that audience, cultivating them into raving fans and delivering my message is with Aweber which starts at only $1.

Keeping that in mind, the new announcements will dramatically help you build the social leg of your user engagement.

Some people I know that rely heavily on Facebook to drive their social referrals were only seeing 8-20% engagement with their posts thanks to EdgeRank (the math Facebook uses to decide what relevant content to show users). But the new premium option should boost that to 75% or higher engagement, in the case of Ben & Jerry’s they saw a 98% engagement rate which insane.

The fact is, once your audience starts becoming mostly people that you don’t know it’s time to start thinking about ways to keep your engagement up.

When you first start, your friends will use you because they like you, but as your grow you are going to have to find ways that get your message in front of people who only have a connection to you through your content.

What to do right now

Since Facebook just announced the timeline feature for brand pages today, you can go over to your brand page to preview edit and activate the timeline.

This will be especially helpful if your company has a long standing history and an interesting story of how it got started and has any major milestones.

Having the timeline enabled will help you narrate that story in an engaging way. An interesting example they gave today as well was using the timeline to tell fiction stories, such as a movie promotion and I find that fascinating. It’s going to help blur the lines between reality and fiction, which should draw in a serious fan page in a way they aren’t used to being reached.

About Travis Ketchum
A smart ass marketer who doesn't take no for an answer and always questions the status quo. Connect with me on Google+. Convinced yet? Get more tips and great content 100% free.

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Building a sustainable business is all about how well you can gather and maintain an audience. An email list is still one of the most viable ways to do just that.

We wanted to find a way to build an email incredibly fast, in a way that people actually find interesting, engaging and well - cool. It took a lot of testing to weed-whack through all the hype and find something that really worked.

The result? We ended up building our own solution, focused around the idea of contests and rewarding people for taking the actions that ultimately led to more leads on our email list. Everyone wins (and some literally do!), because as it turns out people love contests regardless of their market place.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan Smyth March 22, 2012 at 3:02 PM

How exactly does this benefit a small business using timeline? The apps were nice.


Travis Ketchum March 23, 2012 at 5:57 PM

It’s mainly the fact that you pay to get that big list of people who have “liked” you to actually see your content. As far as Facebook Apps go you can still use them, and in fact you can even highlight them in the top nav bar, however it looks like the squeeze & iFrames has faded into the sunset.

Either way, I’m a firm believer that people should be doing everything they can to build a big healthy email list since it’s one of the few assets you control.


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