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Timeline for Pages – What it Means for Marketers

By Jason Andrews |

March 1, 2012 | 4 min read

Jason Andrews, social media executive at Dog Digital, comments on the announcement made by Facebook yesterday on the launch of new brand pages based on the timeline design and layout that personal profiles have been enjoying for the last few months.

The enhanced brand pages will contain a number of new features, including a large cover photo and the ability to ‘pin’ a post to the top of the timeline, ensuring it does not get lost in other messages and conversations. Similar to the timeline feature for users, brand pages will also be able to add key moment milestones to their page, highlighting significant events such as product launches and new campaigns. However, the introduction of these new features has also meant the removal of others.

Our first thoughts on the new brand pages are that they are a vast improvement visually, but strike quite a blow against a number of common marketing tactics currently used on Facebook. This is not necessarily a bad thing for users, but it may now prove slightly more difficult for brands to promote themselves and their services.

The first big change is the removal of default landing tabs. Almost every brand with a Facebook Page currently has a tab that acts as a welcome (or splash) page, often encouraging users to Like the Page, thereby driving up the fanbase. Facebook has now removed the option to choose where new users land, meaning the first thing they see will be the Timeline - full of photos, links and conversations, but often without clear or bold calls to action. The new Cover Photo option is attractive for brands, but Facebook has also released tight regulations around it – no ‘Like Us’, no marketing messages, and so on.

In addition to the removal of default landing tabs, the Page menu has also disappeared, making navigation around custom areas slightly more challenging. Of course, marketers can still spend money on advertising to direct users where they want...

I have already seen bloggers and commenters praising Facebook for ‘putting the users first’ by removing the more obvious marketing options such as the Like pages/landing tabs. However, the brand page announcement was accompanied by news of a number of new advertising options, including the ability to show ads on the log-out screen, as well as mobile advertising.

Facebook has stated that they are making the changes because they want brands to be storytellers, and involve users in conversations, weaving in social elements and interactions from their friends. A more cynical person may conclude that Facebook has removed the marketing tactics that brands could create and carry out for themselves, impelling them to consider advertising more.

A positive change for marketers and page admins that will not really impact users is the enhanced Facebook Insights on offer, with the promise of 'real time data' coming soon. In the past, Facebook Insights has been an incredibly poor reporting tool, with slow updates and a lack of detail. Hopefully this will now change, and Insights can really help to inform on content and posting strategy.

Timeline for Pages will bring a lot of changes that brands will need to carefully consider their response to. They will also have to do it quickly as there is an unusually short period before it is compulsory – March 30th, 2012.

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