Facebook Timeline For Brands: Marketing Game Changer Or Potential Spam Machine?

    February 20, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

It wasn’t that long ago that Facebook users were informed by Facebook that they would be getting the Timeline whether they like it or not. Indeed, some do not like it, particularly the way it highlights things from the past. Some love it and find it to be a vast improvement of the Facebook profile. Either way, it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. Businesses are about to get them too.

Do you want a timeline experience for your brand? Is it a great way to showcase your business or an extra hassle? Tell us what you think.

This past week, reports emerged that Facebook would be rolling out the timeline for brands at the end of the month. We’re already pretty far into the month, so that means soon. In fact, Facebook is expected to make the announcement at its first fMC event for marketers on February 29.

The brand versions are expected to be very similar to user timelines, with some differences. From the sound of it, Facebook itself is still deciding how to do certain things, such as what happens with tabs and app pages associated with brand pages.

As Josh Wolford noted in a previous article, brands use these side buttons to house promotional games, contests, and other information. One thought, he noted, is that they will turn into boxes on the Brand’s Timelines, not unlike how Spotify is situated on user timelines.

As I noted myself in another article, brands have ups and downs throughout their lives just like people. Brands will want to review what is actually on these timelines very carefully. Some social media managers may have their work cut out for them.

Think about a company like Google and all the good and bad PR that it experiences. Think about a brand like the New York Times, which has been around since the mid 1800’s.

Obviously, the older brand, the more rich and extensive their timeline could be. These could turn into some really cool, visual pages for brands on the web, nice counterparts to brands’ Wikipedia pages for web users to learn about a brand’s history. For brands who choose to utilize them to their full potential, timelines could provide limitless information and knowledge about brands in a way that we just haven’t really seen in the past.

The timelines should be PR-friendly, for the most part. Brands will be in control. Users will not necessarily see all the really juicy stuff, though ballsy brands could choose to embrace the bad with the good and show some authenticity. Sometimes it pays to own your mistakes and failures.

We don’t yet know what all brand timelines will consist of, though we should soon. But think about user timelines for a moment and how their functionality could apply to brands. Actually, the Facebook Timeline movie maker illustrates to some extent how they can be used visually.

Timeline (or Open Graph) apps are huge for spreading what Facebook users are doing on Facebook. We may see a similar trend from brands. If a user likes a brand on Facebook, perhaps the brand can use Spotify or Pinterest and spread their listening/pinning habits. I can see these types fo things being used both for promotional purposes, and for brand humanization. People like brands they can identify with on a human level. This could lead to some interesting cross-brand promotions and partnerships.

We know timeline apps have already shown early success. Since the launch of the Pinterest app, for example, Facebook users visiting Pinterest every day has increased by over 60%, according to Facebook. Pose has seen a 5X increase in daily web sign-ups for their site and mobile app. Fab.com has seen a 50% increase in Facebook traffic. Foodily has quadrupled its user base.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Brand timelines could really change the landscape of what social media marketing looks like, simply because it comes from Facebook. If this were some standalone product out there from some unknown startup, I probably wouldn’t be so quick to make such a proclamation, but this is Facebook we’re talking about. In December, Facebook logged 845 million monthly active users. Users generated an average of 2.7 billion “likes” and comments per day during the three months ending December 31, according to Facebook.

Most brands already have Pages. Timelines are simply more interesting, and could lead to further engagement. They could change the game for brands.

Facebook may have to be careful, however, about how they allow these things to operate. There have already been plenty of complaints about the new Open Graph and timeline experience. Some feel like they are being spammed by apps like Pinterest and Spotify. Users share all of the stuff they’re listening to, or pinning, or reading from a new app. It’s not too hard to imagine brands sharing excessively, though all a user has to do is unlike them.

In fact, it will be interesting to see how this Open Graph affects Facebook use in the long run, brands aside.If user app use gets to annoying to their friends, they just might find the Facebook experience itself more annoying and spend a little more time elsewhere. That’s a risk factor.

Of course, at this point, we can only speculate about how brands will be allowed to use timelines. That is until they’re officially revealed by Facebook.

Do you think brand timelines are a good idea? Let us know in the comments.

  • ches

    Basic rule of on-line privacy no.1

    – Avoid Facebook like the plague.


  • http://frederickpearce.com Frederick Pearce

    No. I think the whole Timeline thing is a terrible mistake from a user POV. It looks bad, it’s frustrating to use and it’s untidy. As soon as my pages (business or personal) are converted, I intend to close my account and will abandon Facebook entirely. I’m sure there are other social sites that I will enjoy. I think Timelines could eventually be the downfall of Facebook and the beginning of something big for a competitor.

  • http://jesspetersonphotos.com Jess Peterson

    I will probably abandon Facebook when I am finally forced to into using Timeline both on my personal page and my business page. It’s an absolute messfrom a design POV. There is no point of focus and you have bo clue where to look. I don’t care about anyone’s timeline, all I cared about was looking at people’s current updates.

  • http://www.theheadcateerer.co.uk David Head

    I think the dats of the Facebook growing are numbered,they are becoming to intrusive on people’s personal affairs.They can’t seem to understand they can’t put controls in just for themselves,which wii effect the users privacy.A big mistake in the long term.
    Kind Regards
    David Hhead

  • H Wall

    Web sites offered something free to the public by selling ad space on the site to products (Tide, Pepsi, etc.), but now they are getting greedy and tracking where we go, what we search for, what we buy, etc.


    Facebook founder made 25 billion off of that method and now the greedy little ZUCKER wants more.

  • http://www.cjcontractorservices.com J Matk

    I think Facebook for brands is necessary. Many internet users use Facebook as their homepage and almost like a search engine. If you have a brand you want to market, privacy is probably the last thing you would be concerned about – the more people watching your brand the better. I market contractor services in Houston, if people follow our brand and comment on projects, it can only help business – even if they complain, it shows how complaints get resolved.

  • http://www.ibizwhiz.com Gregory Morgan

    According to the article Facebook users logged 2.7 billion “likes” and comments per day for a 3 month period. I’ve been a Facebook user for years and out of all my likes and comments; I probably liked a brand maybe once or twice. Facebook is making a big mistake forcing brands on its users right before its IPO. I think multitudes of people will be dropping Facebook soon.

  • http://www.seetechno.com/ 541fmj

    I think a lot of facebook users are also pleased with the timeline for its design, facebook users can also free advertising by using her to display their design, either if there are changes later on facebook timeline ..

  • http://www.studioartistx..nl Alexander

    Not gonna abandon Facebook but timeline definitely sucks!

  • http://www.hotcopywritingsolutions.com Donna

    I’m with you, Chris. I just signed up for Pinterest last week, and my jaw is dropping at the number of followers I have already. As you say, “everyone” is on Facebook, and even though I like G+ better, I have to think of where my market hangs out. Who’s got the money? Women. Who spends it? Women. Where are they? Facebook and Pinterest. What do they like? Esthetics. Spas. Chocolate. I think if I can create a Timeline page that caters to the ladies, only good will come of it.

  • sj

    Hoping Facebook rides the slippery slope into oblivion.

  • Jerald

    I think the majority of the people are ignorant of privacy issues and those are the sheeple who fall for anything and will not leave facebook.
    As far as growth..good luck!!

  • http://www.theakurians.com General Bobby Farrell

    ‘Time Line?’ One more layer of KAK!

    General Bobby Farrell

  • http://www.lab22.net Bernie

    YES! Bring on the timeline for brands!! Love it…potential is just so great!

  • http://www.bizzooma.com.au felice sgammotta

    I think it is a refreshing change and it looks good. Whether it is practical or not is up to each individual to decide.

  • http://www.snakeshows.com.au snakeman Raymond Hoser

    Yes, the timeline is a dog’s breakfrast. In our business, which is kids Reptile parties in Melbourne Australia, the current facebook interface works well. Most incoming people want the recent stuff on top and in a clean view. What may work is a second associated facebook page with a timeline option (for each user), allowing people to make and use their own timelines and other uses to visit it only if they want to delve into a user’s past history. That’d solve most problems immediately.

  • http://nature2photography.webs.com Ynnis Glytyr

    I cancelled Facebook because I find it very intrusive and surely don’t have Zuckerberg tell me how I have to arrange my Facebook page. Unfortunately, most users do not understand that Zuckerberg partners with the FBI and CIA. This fact is not mentioned very much. Basically, with the old Facebook lay out and especially the new timeline lay out, big brother knows EXACTLY what you’re doing, where you live, who you associate with, and even what your thoughts and feelings are. If you people want to live in control of “Big Brother”, more power to you, but realize, you are losing more and more of your freedom. Facebook may be a good tool for companies, but it is nothing but a spy tool for CIA, FBI and who knows what other intelligence institution. It surely is not good for private people in the long run. So please people…watch out what you put on Facebook and don’t incriminate yourself or set yourself up for scrutiny.

  • http://top7cloudstorage.com Susan

    I hate the timeline feature and now that it’ll be extended to brands, well..the news gives me a headache, because that’s exactly what I feel when I see my Facebook profile page…the Timeline layout. I agree with some of the comments regarding Pinterest – I LOVE it so far and I’m amazed as to how quickly it moves as far as followers and re-sharing.

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    Facebook kept trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. They should have kept things simple and concentrated on ways to monetize the site. They’ll never go away but they’ve definitely reached their peak.

  • http://www.vesta-tech.net Manila website

    Facebook like to control and moniized on something that good.

  • http://www.mediatrendsdigest.com biswajit das

    Many of us treat FB as a “not-serious” site for passing time, often by showing off!

    I’ve always felt FB timeline was a li’l irritating, sometimes confusing – but ‘harmless’ – even though it’s ‘forced’ on users.

    But bringing brand timelines may intrude into users’ space by imposing “likes”, “brand apps” & “comments”

  • http://disposable-numbers.net Forwarded Numbers

    Branding on the Internet is a must right now. But Facebook’s timeline is quite annoying..sluggish. I don’t even use it. Better stick to the simple FB Page.

  • http://www.bethanybaptist.net Rachael

    Personally I don’t like the timeline, it seems harder to browse. Although I log into FB daily I am finding the experience of changing layouts increasingly tiresome along with the privacy concerns FB raises. It’ll be interesting to see if Pinterest gains major traction this year, as a lot of people I know primarily use FB for the photo sharing.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/search-engine-optimization-firm.htm Nick Stamoulis

    Timeline brings a very different experience to Facebook. It makes history as important as the present. Brands will need to spend time going back and looking at everything that was posted in the past to see if certain things need cleaning up.

  • http://sepatu-ku.com Lia

    I don’t think brand can be revitalized by looking out the past but it must be generated all times, anytime. I don’t see Facebook timeline is very useful.

  • http://www.onlinesabah.com Adrian Lee

    I like Timeline. It makes FB looks good as a website, and I believe having a timeline helps a brand. For one, it makes it easier to see what products and services they have launched and presumably the events they have had. It should work out great for local businesses.

    For me, I would love to have timelines available for my pages.

  • DJ

    Timeline sucks period!

  • Ciara

    Interesting points Chris, we’ll just have to wait and see I suppose! To make the wait more interesting here’s a Countdown to Timeline for Brands http://facebooktimelinecountdown.com/

  • Ciara

    Apologies, meant to include a disclaimer that I’m from the company that created the countdown!

  • Julia

    Due to Timeline – my facebook page is gone…

  • http://fbphotomaker.com Amanda Pellington

    I’ve got mixed feelings about the new Timeline. One big beef is that the Cover Photo is so awkwardly shaped. It’s expansively wide and really stout. All the photos I want to use either get cropped severely or don’t fit right. I did find an app that lets me make my Cover Photos look really good that I wanted to share.
    It allows you to use multiple images and add text.

    You can see some pretty inspiring user-generated samples here:

  • http://www.pringle.com Dennis

    For brands, having a Facebook presence is extremely important. While I am no fan of the TimeLine for personal page, it will bring a new historical view of a brands postings. As a builder of custom homes in central Florida, I use Facebook to post pictures of completed homes, communities and am now documenting the start-to-finish construction of one of our new models. I want to use this medium to convey the differences in our construction methods from our competitors and the timeline approach looks like it will be a huge win for that.

    I do however have to say that some of the update algorithms for Facebook make reaching the full width of our fan base difficult. For example, we get about 25% to 30% “reach” with our postings. What are you all experiencing with your reach and how do you think the timeline conversion will affect that?