Last week, the brand experience on Facebook changed in two major ways. The first was the official rollout of the Timeline format for brand pages, and the second was the addition of Premium advertising opportunities. The updated Timeline format was released for individual users last year, and brands now have the ability to take advantage of the new features offered by Timeline. The updated brand page format is very similar to the individual Timeline format; however there are unique considerations for brands making the transition. Mashable outlined key changes every marketer needs to understand, including:
1) Updated Look and Feel: The timeline format for individuals and brands both feature a large ‘cover photo’ at the top of the page followed by two columns of content which descend in chronological order. Brands are able to take advantage of this Timeline format by adding past or present company milestones to the page, such as product launches or location openings.
2) Reduced Tab Visibility: The prominent left-hand column of tabs is gone in the Timeline format and is replaced with rectangular panels which are displayed beneath the cover photo. Applications can still live within these panels, but only three panels are displayed at one time with the remainder minimized in a drop-down box. Marketers will have to reprioritize their content and use analytics to determine which three tabs should be promoted at a given time.
3) No Default Landing Page: A default landing page cannot be set within the new format; Rather, the Timeline home page will always serve as the landing page. Without this functionality, marketers will have to be aware of the top content featured on a brand page’s Timeline, as this content will provide the initial impression to page visitors.
4) New Way to Feature Content: Although a default landing page can no longer be set, the new Timeline does offer the ability to make a post ‘sticky’, or pinned to the top of the Timeline. This provides a way for marketers to highlight new and interesting content within the new format.
5) Private Messages Between Brands and Users: Brands can now send and receive private messages on Facebook, which will help to unclutter the Timeline and better service customer inquiries on a one-to-one basis.
Also last week at a conference in New York City, Facebook announced Premium, a ‘new suite of products designed for marketers to leverage the social network’s access to your friends and friends of friends’. With this new ad product, Facebook looks to change the format of advertising from traditional to ‘stories’ in order to better evolve consumer’s relationship with brands. Though users won’t notice a significant change in advertising at this time, Facebook reviewed five new ad products for 2012:
1) Ads That Appear in News Feeds: Similar to the ‘Sponsored Stories’ ad format, news feed ads only appear if you or a friend interacted with a particular brand page. Sometimes these ads will run in the news feed organically like any other status update, while other times they will be paid advertisements. Paid or unpaid, they will only be seen if previous brand action has taken place by you or a friend.
2) News Feed Ads on Mobile: A version of the desktop news feed ads will appear on user’s news feeds when accessed via the Facebook application on smartphones or tablets.
3) Ads That Run on the Right-Hand Side of the Homepage: Instead of the familiar direct-response ‘Marketplace’ banner ads, the new Premium ads will originate from a brand page and consist of a status update or new video upload.
4) Ads Which Appear after Logging Out: An optional log-out experience is available to target users with a particular message or video when logging off of Facebook.
5) Offers: This opportunity allows advertisers to share discounts and promotions with their fans within Facebook for no additional fee.
Have you noticed a brand taking advantage of the new Timeline format or advertising opportunities? Share your examples and thoughts in the comments below.