Facebook’s new timeline: Marketers take note

fb-logoFacebook continues to evolve, and one of the latest features they’ve announced could become really useful for marketers to tap into. The new feature is called Timeline; from the individual Facebook user’s perspective, Timeline is a new kind of profile. For people who want to share a more complete picture of themselves on Facebook, (hmmm, managing your personal brand?), Timeline will allow them to share things they do on their favourite websites and apps. Users will be able to add or remove anything to their Timeline and build a complete profile, from their very first activity on Facebook to their latest post.

From a marketer’s perspective, ads and Sponsored Stories can be targeted based on the activities people have shared from apps that they add to their Timeline, and companies can develop custom apps that allow people to share their activities on that company’s website with a simple click like “Add to Timeline”.

Imagine if someone watched an instructional video from your company, and that information got posted on their Timeline where their friends could see it? Their friends with the same interests would now be exposed to your brand, which would be getting some social validation from the friend who had added it to their Timeline, making it more likely that some of them will follow the link and check your website out too. And if they then add your link to their Timeline, and their friends see it…I think you get the idea.

How it works

Currently, Timeline is only available to developers, but Facebook will be rolling it out soon to everyone else. Timeline is an extension of Facebook’s Open Graph developer platform, and it lets companies describe the activities people take with content on their website. Facebook have given the example of a recipe site, where people could add to their Timeline all the recipes they are “cooking”, as opposed to simply “liking”. With more descriptive actions like “listen”, “watch” and “read”, popular activities are likely to get more distribution in the News Feed and Timeline. According to Facebook’s own data, people are twice as likely to engage with a business when they hear about it from a friend.

With the possibility of more focused advertising, based on the apps people are engaging with, plus the ability for more ambitious marketers to create custom apps that people can add to their new Timeline profiles, this could be a really useful new Facebook feature to engage customers and their friends, earn social capital, and create a real sense of community around a brand.

Facebook seems to be finding ways to borrow ideas from rivals like Google+ and LinkedIn and integrate them into the Facebook experience. And with over 15 Million Facebook users in Canada alone (that’s nearly half the population) and 800 Million worldwide, these evolutionary changes at Facebook will help ensure it’s one hard habit to break, and one tough act to take market share and revenue from.

For more on building Facebook apps, see https://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/custom/. If your company needs assistance with your social media strategy, including advertising on LinkedIn or Facebook, contact us today or visit our website. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.