4 Strategies We Learned Using Facebook's Timeline

4 Strategies We Learned Using Facebook's Timeline
May 1, 2012

When Facebook made the jump to Timeline and rendered our previous landing page unusable, needless to say, we were somewhat perturbed. After all, we were proud of our work and it was functioning really nicely for us in converting viewers to fans from the moment they touched it. But, change is the nature of all things social, so we bucked up and learned a thing or two about the new landscape that is Facebook Timeline.

Here are four insights we’ve gained since we made the switch:  

More than one Cover Photo?

Facebook was pretty strict with the new guidelines; not only did we need to toss up a cover photo, but we weren’t allowed to do all the saucy stuff we expected we’d be able to. (No referencing the “Like” or “Share” buttons, providing price or purchase info, contact info, or calls to action.) But this move really forces you to focus on the essence of your brand instead of a quick promotion (good strategy for social engagement). In fact, there have been countless list posts featuring some of the coolest cover photos.

At the moment, our cover photo is simple, consistent, and blends nicely with our profile picture:

People get here and immediately know that they’ve found the right Brainshark. But, we’ve had other, less simple and consistent photos in the past…and, honestly, we plan to have more:

Like the featured video on your YouTube page, cover photos can use a refresh every now and then. We saw that we could use that prime real estate to continuously keep visitors engaged and wanting more. Some savvy brands have even let their visitors play a role in choosing their cover. Any takers?

Using Apps to Your Advantage

The top real estate of your page also features a link to your photos, as well as three apps of your choosing. You can have more apps, but only those four will appear to a visitor at first, so it’s on you to make them count. We used our former landing page as a large call to action vehicle, so we decided to continue the tradition with our app featuring our SlideShark product. This kept us from violating the cover photo guidelines while still delivering a similar impact as our previous design.

We’re able to incorporate a lot of elements here. We push viewers to “like” the page, while using our own product to deliver an overview of another one of our products (we obviously got lucky here with being in online video). When we link from SlideShark properties to Facebook – we link to this app instead of the main page. The point is that apps provide a lot of the same opportunity that landing pages once did. Check out services like SnapApp and Shoutlet (for a more enterprise offering) which can help you build yours.

Milestones Don’t Have to be One and Done

Before Timeline launched for brands, many helpful guidelines hit the waves to help marketers prepare. Almost all of them heavily advocated using the grace period to set-up your company’s milestones before turning the page live. We held off. We weren’t really sure what we wanted to highlight as milestones besides our founding and some of our more interesting product launches – so we let our fans tell us. We started posting smaller milestones, and based on our fan engagement, we knew what kinds of company moments our community cared about.

Instead of getting them all up beforehand to display for fans with the new Timeline design, we let our fans be a part of putting them up. It was sort of like decorating the Christmas tree with the whole Brainshark Facebook family.

As you update your Timeline with future milestones, try to think of some in the past that you haven’t put up yet and see if you can take your community back in time with you, milestone by milestone.

Use the New Landscape to Cross-Pollinate

There’s been a huge shift across social, and the internet in general, to become more visual. Timeline puts a particularly strong emphasis on media, especially photos. So does Pinterest (cough cough)…as well as Google +, which gives video the upper hand too. I’m not suggesting to blindly post your content across all of these channels, but with the alignment we’re seeing, there’s definitely some room for repurposing.

You should be consciously thinking of how to connect your social properties in an effort to keep visitors inside your web for as long as possible. Unfortunately, you can’t Pin from Facebook but you can do vice versa. You can also use apps (see insight #2) to drive people to your other properties and use a pool of visually engaging content to fuel all or most of them.

Pictures, photos, and videos are becoming increasingly important on all fronts, so we found that building a common pool of content makes life easier and allows us to provide our followers with good content more frequently.

I wish I could end this post off with “that’s all folks” but the fact of the matter is that there are still MANY Timeline strategies out there that we haven’t covered here. What are yours? Have you seen anything cool that we didn’t point out here?