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Facebook Timeline: A Story Worth Telling

Posted by Keri Ibbitson on Wed, Mar 07, 2012

Facebook Timeline CMBAs an everyday user of the criminally addictive social networking site Facebook, I rolled my eyes when I saw the new “Timeline” design. Why fix something if it’s not broken? Didn’t I just get used to the most recent interface?  While I sat absorbing all the new features, Facebook was busy launching a revelatory tool for marketers.

Previously, the popularity of a business’ Facebook page was driven by the number of “likes” and “comments.” Businesses could hide behind the “like” button.  Now, marketers are forced to tell a story about their brand (and if you know anything about CMB, we LOVE to tell a story). Customer engagement is now driven by a personal connection developed through captivating storytelling as opposed to an unimpassioned click of a button. Users can follow their favorite brands from conception to the present through the Timeline layout.

With the new layout, fans and visitors now see the same landing page. Everyone is privy to the same content, and it must be appealing enough to convert the “lurkers” into “likers.” Marketers need to achieve this through good storytelling, and Facebook has developed several new tools on the Timeline that allow users to make their stories unique.

New features like pinning and starring posts allow developers to anchor their most important posts at the top of their page for seven days. This ensures that the best stories don’t get lost in daily posts. Videos and pictures are now amplified on the pages, helping drive deeper engagement by existing fans, and piquing interest in potential ones. Milestones can now be defined by the business and posted publicly when they are achieved; allowing companies to share their successes with the people who helped get them there.

The most controversial of the new additions, is the ability to privately message people. This tool is being viewed as a way to individually engage with fans, and allow for quicker and more personal responses. However, companies should proceed with caution in using this feature. Bombarding their fans with an abundance of messages is a surefire way to turn off their support base. This tool should be used to help foster, and not strain, the relationships between businesses and their consumers.

A common driver of the old Facebook interface was quantity of content. The new Facebook Timeline pushes the focus to quality. Developers are encouraged to optimize the content they have in order to engage fans by telling their story during their fans’ “peak” usage periods and pinning popular posts. 

As professional story-tellers, we are excited here at CMB to launch our Timeline here

Posted by Keri Ibbitson. Keri is an Associate Researcher with the Travel and Entertainment team. When not writing about the complexities of Facebook, you can find her watching the Bruins, wrapped up in an Intervention marathon, or dreaming of going back to London.  

Topics: storytelling, social media, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty