Is Facebook's Timeline good for brands?


Luke Brynley-Jones is the founder of Our Social Times, who run social media conferences in the UK, Europe, the US and Asia. They’re co-hosting Facebook Marketing 2012 with Chinwag in London on Wednesday 18th July.

PLAYMOBIL's Timeline

The new Timeline layout for brand Pages on Facebook has been hugely controversial.  When it first launched JD Lassica argued that by changing the emphasis of sharing on your Facebook Page from ‘what’s happening now’ to focus on ‘what happened in the past’, the social network had reduced its relevance and made a “huge mistake”.

The outcry at the removal of the default landing page tab, with its ubiquitous Like-gate, was long and reverberating, though most companies seems to be getting over it.  With the new Timeline Apps you can still direct traffic directly to a specific tab and ‘fan-gate’ that tab, though its widely believed that this change was driven more by Facebook’s desire to sell more advertising than to benefit brands. highlights the luxury of having a full 810 pixels of horizontal tab space to promote your products, newsletters and downloads now, which is certainly a big plus for marketing.

Interestingly, at a conference I hosted in Frankfurt earlier this month, Anna Ermann, Social Media Manager at PLAYMOBIL, co-presenting with We Are Social’s Bastian Scherbeck, explained that the ‘beauty’ of the new Cover Photo design on Facebook seems to detract from the primary function of a Page: to facilitate interaction with fans.  The popular toy brand has noticed that it’s harder to engage fans with the new layout. She suggested that Timeline may have been designed to show-case glossy brands, rather than provide a functional tool for engagement and feedback.

Perhaps the most obvious criticism of the new Timeline design, though, is that it’s pretty much irrelevant. According to Brian Carter, author of Facebook Marketing, “Your brand’s Timeline needs to look good, but 40-160 times as many people will see your posts in their newsfeeds, not on your Timeline page”. He stresses that companies should focus their efforts on publishing interesting and engaging content, rather than polishing up their cover photo.

Doubtless the discussion about Timeline’s efficacy for marketing will continue, but I’d be interested to have some live feedback on this one. How’s it working for you?

Luke has kindly offered We Are Social readers a 10% discount on the Facebook Marketing 2012 ticket price, by entering the discount code “WAS10” when buying a ticket directly from their website.