Facebook Timeline: Coming Soon To Brand Pages
Consistency has always been a strength for sites like Twitter and Facebook. Though they do tend to make interface changes on the fly, they've done so gradually, as not to incite a riot or a mass exodus from the buzzing social media platforms. They make user content the main focus, with Facebook only allowing customization as it pertains to a user's privacy preferences and willingness to share their online identity. Brands have managed their content similarly, venturing into customization of their default photo, use of third-party applications and the inclusion of static FBML code (used to create additional page tabs for a flyer, online voting, etc). In short, consumers see brands in a familiar format with easy-to-navigate, date-sorted posts, all of which are centered around engaging those who "like" the page.
With Timeline, many of the old rules go out the window. Posts are displayed in two columns and there is much less emphasis on the actual text, much more on a user's "life events" and photos; certainly, that will be a unique challenge for brands without tangible products to introduce and display on a consistent basis. Large graphics give way to a host of new possibilities; although it can be a great opportunity to reach new users and showcase your social media know-how, it will require a certain level of creativity and branding to be effective. Gone are the days of slapping up a logo and a few posts about your current promotions; now you actually need to put some thought into how your page will function, display and remain relevant amidst a sea of brands that have a graphic designer masterminding the entire plan.
As the rumored launch date of February 29th draws closer, it will be interesting to see how Facebook introduces the brand page version of Timeline. But, if the past (or the whole thing with Twitter and their paid brand pages) is any indicator, we can expect a long-winded press release with answers to all of our burning questions--and most likely, a scaled back version of what we've now since become accustomed to.
For some visual representations of what brand pages could end up looking like, click here.