As you may have heard, Facebook recently launched their new Timeline feature (it’s opt-in for now, so don’t freak out). In short, the Timeline starts with today and goes back until the day of your birth. Imagine what this will look like for those precious babies whose parents set up their Facebook pages pre-birth (or is that too meta?)! There are all kinds of customizable features that allow you to highlight certain images, notes, life events, interests, friends and other updates that you posted to Facebook. All of this is in an effort for you to create a scrapbook of “the story of your life.”
So, while the Timeline is not YET available for Pages (and likely won’t be in the same form) we’re always thinking ahead and wanted to share our thoughts of how brands could use timeline features in the future.
As a business, a Timeline-type layout is a great opportunity to streamline information and show the online community what it important to you. It can be a really great tool for a company to tell their story beyond just their product offering and develop their online voice. Take this opportunity to go back into the company’s Facebook history and reflect on whether it is still true to the company today. In doing so, you may find that it’s a great exercise in really developing and refining the company’s branding (if you need help with that – give us a call).
It is incredibly important for EVERYTHING showcased on Timeline to reflect the company’s brand and voice in the marketplace. While this is absolutely the case with Facebook now, having information streamlined into a Timeline makes it more necessary to have a unified voice, because everything, past and present is visible. For business of all sizes this is a great opportunity to show the culture of a company and its roots. There may be more on your page that shows the company’s history and growth than you think, especially for new companies founded in the social media age.
Are you a cool, young tech start-up? The Facebook Timeline may be the place to show off the cool side of projects worked on or trips taken by employees, reflecting the kind of people that are in the company and the type of employees you want to attract. Importantly, it also shows the world that you are innovative, cutting-edge and adventurous – from the people that work at the company to the products themselves.
Are you an established financial services company? This may not be the place to share the account assistant’s weekend trip sky diving in Vegas, but it IS a great place to share awesome corporate events, brainstorming sessions or the CEO with spouse attending a non-profit fundraiser.
Here are some specifics:
Cover Photo – It is really important to choose the cover photo wisely. Unlike a page’s profile image, this image is a) physically HUGE and b) more prominently displayed on the page. Because there are profile images and cover photos, make sure the cover photo reflects who you are rather than the simple brand logo. You can change this at any time by hovering over the cover photo selected and using the Change Cover menu to update this photo.
Think about if this is an image you want to change periodically or something you would like to become permanent. Think about what this says about your brand, if you are an “old staple” you may not want to change your photo regularly. The tech start-up? Go crazy – change it each week as new events happen, or use this space to highlight the great new projects or people you are working with.
Featured Images – Star the pictures you want to feature first, which makes these pictures BIG and unmistakable. For Businesses, star images that portray corporate culture, your CEO and other executives. Be sure to feature things that show differentiation between your competitors: if you have a cool office space, or great interactive brainstorming sessions, or a great cubical design competition be sure to feature these as well.
Life Events – This feature allows you to highlight and tag moments that are important to your life, in this case the life of the company. For businesses, this may mean when it was founded, when you hired a new executive, awards won, new offices opened, corporate events and outings, products launched, tag line changed, important events or adventures in the life of the CEO (if they LIVE the company’s brand, for example, Richard Branson-style extreme living, which personifies the Virgin brand).
Be sure to edit, or at least be aware of the order in which the boxes appear on the timeline – friends, photos, likes, life events, notes, and subscriptions all have a place in your timeline. It’s up to you to determine the importance of each and make it easy for views to access the most important.
Business Insiders’s Ellis Hamburger has some great tips for personal users: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-facebook-timeline-tips-2011-12
Here are some great sample cover photos:
Lastly, here’s a great article on how Timeline makes it more difficult to hide from an embarrassing past: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2011/12/19/facebooks-timeline-digs-up-your-history.htm