Facebook Timeline, What Does It Mean For Your Business?

by Jason Keath on Oct 19, 2011
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Facebook TimelineWhat is the new Facebook timeline?

Timeline is the next evolution of the Facebook personal profile page. Todays Facebook profile is focused on a very brief list of past status updates and a slightly organized photo album. It works, but it doesn’t go far enough for what Facebook wants.

The new timeline tells a story. It gives users the option to show as little or as much as they want of their lives in an elegant vertical timeline of photos, events, status updates and more. And in the process hopefully gets you to spend more time on the site and give advertisers more of your info to target. The goal here, Facebook hopes, is a win win.

So what does this mean for your business? The short answer is it means very little today, but in the long run, the timeline shows us plenty about what Facebook will do next. Below we will introduce you to the elements of the timeline, why they did it, and some of the reasons your business should be paying attention.

9 Facebook Timeline Changes and Features

  1. Cover – Fill this wide, open space with a unique image that represents you best. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your timeline.
  2. Square Profile Photo – no more worrying about how it crops. One size fits all here.
  3. Your Stories – Share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events on your timeline. This is where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now.
  4. Star Or Remove – Star your favorite moments to make them widescreen, or remove the ones you want to hide.
  5. Your Apps – The movies you quote. The songs you have on repeat. The activities you love. Now there’s a new class of social apps that let you express who you are through all the things you do.
  6. Play music – The music you listen to is on your timeline, so friends can listen along.
  7. Maps – As you record your travel and places you have checked into in Facebook Places, your profile will show these on a map that can be displayed in the profile. You can also mark where you were born, similar to Google+ profile maps.
  8. Archive Access – One feature of social networks that we have rarely had access to until now is our archives. Recording our thoughts and actions every day, week, or month on Facebook or Twitter offers awesome access to a running history we are creating. Facebook now helps get access to the long line of content we have created through ttimeline. How easy this will be, we don’t really know yet.
  9. Channels – Your timeline displays a basic info section very similar to the info currently displayed below your name at the top of the current profile. Next to the new info section are 4 channels that users can control. Think of these as widgets. Similar to the original Facebook profile users will now be able to add blocks of information that they want besides just their wall. The 4 default widgets are friends, photos, map, and likes. Others you can add include/remove include subscribers, subscriptions, notes, apps, content consumed (Hulu, Spotify, etc).

For an even more in depth breakdown of the Facebook timeline features and how to use them, go check out this Inside Facebook spotlight. Very useful.

6 Reasons Why Facebook Launched the Timeline

Plenty of reasons. Many of them revolve, as we teased above, around making the experience better for the Facebook user as well as hinting at some changes that provide new opportunities for businesses. Let’s break them down.

  1. Compelling reason to share more stuff  – Facebook will of course automatically pull in photos, events, posts and more from your Facebook activity and add it to your timeline. But one of their main goals with timelines is to compel you to share even more stuff. You now have a better canvas, a digital scrap book, to share and spotlight all your stuff. You can also go back in time and add historical photos and events into your “Way Back” section. Zuckerberg even showed a demo of adding a baby photo to be the beginning of your timeline.
  2. Better access to info – You can now explore someone’s photos, events, and in general their life in a more organized way.
  3. More reason to visit people’s profiles – Facebook wants you to spend time on Facebook. They want you to spend more time with your friends there. So if your friends are sharing more stuff AND that stuff is displayed in a more interesting and digestible way. People will be spending much more time than they already do consuming their friend’s timelines.
  4. More info for ad targeting – With more info comes more opportunity for ads to target that info. This, likely, is the real root of this change for Facebook. They already gather more information than any other site on their users, and Facebook users freely provide that info. As expression and communication with friends, and utility. Now, those stakes are all raised. This is definitely a more compelling reason to define your life in even more detail on Facebook. And brands WILL benefit through ad targeting options.
  5. Featuring the appsApps are the future of the way Facebook wants brands and users to interacte. It will be a more active interaction than the current static tab standard for pulling fans toward a brand.
  6. Better content for you – The more content Facebook gets you to create and feature on your profile (and everyone else’s) the more they know about what you like and consume. In the more data game, just as Google is always improving search results, Facebook is always trying to make the media they bring you more relevant.

What Does It Mean For Your Business?

Ultimately businesses need to pay attention to 2 things here. Apps and ads.

Ads – As users share more there will be more information available to target for ads. Both keyword based and profile information based.

Apps – Start thinking about how your business can create an app. Apps will now focus on off-Facebook actions (watching Hulu, listening to Spotify) that drive on-Facebook updates. These updates, if interesting enough, will go both to the newsfeed and to the user timeline.

These changes hint at where Facebook wants to be. They want people to spend even more time on site and when they are off of Facebook, they want there to be a Facebook layer that feeds their activities back to Facebook in the most interesting way possible. And they are doing this better than anyone else. They have the first mover advantage in being a blanket to the internet. So it behooves all businesses to see how they best fit into the Facebook open graph.

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Lastly, many people are wondering if business pages are now going to start looking like personal profile timelines. Come back tomorrow and we will tell you what we think will happen with inevitable changes to business pages.

What do you think, do you love or hate the new Facebook timelines?

 

 

 

 

Post Author

CEO and founder of Social Fresh, the social media education company. Jason is a social media consultant, a social media speaker and industry analyst. He consults with corporations and agencies on social media strategy, building community, and influencer...