Facebook Timeline – What’s New and Brand Implications

Posted by: in Austin Social Media, Social Media Insights & Trends on December 21, 2011

Facebook has introduced a new profile page format that according to the social network will help you better tell your life story. Facebook is now pulling user’s data into more of a digital scrapbook style format, in chronological order from birth to present time. Facebook guesses which of your posts are the most important and interesting based on engagement they’ve received and features them as “highlights” in chronological order. While Facebook isn’t revealing any new information about you or changing your security settings, its making older posts more predominant in your timeline and therefore more easily seen by your friends. Sudden sense of anxiety because we might now find those old college photos? Don’t worry, you have some time to erase those memories (if only it was always that easy!).

The new layout was announced in September at Facebook’s conference but is rolling out this week to users. As Facebook users receive the option this week to upgrade, they will be given a seven day period to customize their Timeline as they’d like before it goes live to their community. You can publish your page at any point during the seven day trial period, otherwise Facebook will automatically publish it to your community once the seven days are up. If you’d like to be upgraded, visit Facebook’s Timeline page and hit the “Get Timeline” button.

The following features are included in the new Timeline layout:

  • Cover photo – your cover photo stretches across the top of your profile and is meant to reflect who you are visually. Your previous profile picture remains intact but is a smaller square and is now not the main “face” of your profile.
  • Activity log – new page called the Activity Log that shows all content Facebook has from a user. Each item can be edited or removed.
  • Timeline scroll bar – featured on the right side of your profile, allows you to scroll up/down from birth till now. Users can now insert life events that happened before you created your account on Facebook.
  • Timeline drop down menus and highlights vs. all stories – if you don’t like the scroll bar on the right, you can jump to a certain year by selecting that year in the new drop down menu. You can also choose if you want to see highlights (most interesting posts) or all posts in your timeline.
  • Post upgrades/downgrades – if you’d like to draw more attention to certain posts, there is now an option to “star” them to increase their status in your Timeline. You also still have the option of deleting past posts and limiting posts to just friends vs. general public. If you want to downgrade your old posts that you’d rather have as visible, you have the option of limiting all old posts to friends only instead of going through each one manually.

This new format hasn’t opened for brand or group pages yet and it’s unclear from Facebook when they will but given Twitter and other network’s  recent updates to be more brand-focused, it’s likely their turn will soon come. Forbes recently posted a great overview of possible implications this could have for brands, including the following:

  • Brand and page likes have a larger focus on the page, immediately under the cover photo, next to friends, photos and a user’s location map. Instead of combing through a user’s wall or info page to find their common likes, users can now more easily display their likes and brand’s are getting better real estate on their profile pages.
  • Interface changes like Timeline could cause users to spend more time on the site and ultimately increase engagement opportunities brands have with their current and potential new fans.
  • Increased interest in profile pages and more time spent refining personal Timelines will help marketers share more relevant ads to users. Additionally because the ads remain in the same place no matter how far users scroll, they are receiving even more impressions than before.

As Forbes suggests, brands will ultimately have to step up their game and content if they want to encourage their community to make their branded interactions a larger fixture on their Timeline.

Mashable also recently posted a slideshow of possible “mock-ups” created by digital ad agencies to show how brand pages could look if Facebook made brands take on a similar Timeline layout. See one for Red Bull below.

From: Ryan Kennedy (via Mashable)

 

Some brands have already started to consider how to make their own footprint – Mountain Dew is now offering their fans downloadable branded cover photos. You tell us, would you sport your favorite brand as the cover of your profile?

By: Lauren Warthan

Lauren Warthan is a Manager in the WCG Austin office.

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2 Responses

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  1. Great post, LW. I like the new timeline because it starts to tell more of a visual story. So much of social media is still tied up in text. It’s changes like this that may help people think more visually about their lives, too. Or, maybe that’s too much pressure for Facebook. Either way, it’s another reason I like Path – it started out as a platform dedicated to sharing your life through photos. While they’ve since expanded the platform, communicating visually is still core to the experience. I’m glad to see Facebook go in that direction.

  2. Amen! Same feelings here.

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