From humble beginnings crashing Harvard’s servers in 2003 to a $5 billion IPO offering that is sure to head north, Facebook has gone from strength to strength. Generating close to 85% of its $1 billion profit for 2011 from advertising, Mark Zuckerberg has always been tentative to lose the ‘cool’ aspect of Facebook to blatant advertising and yet without it we would likely have no Facebook at all. The good news comes directly to brands and companies who have a Facebook page for marketing reasons; the new ‘Timeline’ feature (which has received both hot and cold responses) went live last week for brands who want to take advantage of it.
Along with that a new feature for advertisers has been revealed called Facebook Premium which promises to offer seamless advertising at a premium rate to companies who opt for that optional package.
Speaking of optional, the ‘Timeline’ feature for brands is only optional until the end of March when it becomes compulsory for all accounts.
Among the new features the ‘Timeline’ will offer brands is the ability to pin posts to the top of the timeline (similar to a sticky posts) for a week, receive and respond to private massages from users, add a cover image and features posts from a feed of updates and websites relating to the brand that Facebook automatically determines to be engaging.
A few of the features users who already have the ‘Timeline’ will recognise some of these developments, but let’s go through a few of them.
Cover Image – The cover image is a larger space on the top of your profile separate from the smaller profile picture. These are public to all and offer the best opportunity for obvious visual branding. There have been some creative examples of its interaction with the smaller profile picture which affords marketing campaigns some creative licence.
Star/Pinned Posts – Offering more opportunity to filter information important to your brand, administrators can ‘star’ posts which stand out by becoming widescreen across the timeline. Pinned posts also offer this exposure by becoming embedded on the top of the timeline for a week before returning to the date it was posted; this is perfect for limited promotional runs.
Admin Panel – This panel is for administrators of the page only. Using it a brand can immediately respond to enquiries posted by Facebook users in a manner of similar effectiveness to Twitter. Using this panel you can also oversee statistics and notifications for your page as well as customise it at will. This is the feature that will be most heavily used by branding.
Milestones – Milestones are similar to starred posts since they become widescreen, but the content that is encouraged to feature here is big events or turning points for a brand. This would be an amazing feature for brands to list their personal accomplishments in; one needs to use their imagination on this.
The ‘Timeline,’ love it or hate it, is here to stay, but already from the outset I can personally see amazing marketing potential waiting to be tapped. One might even go so far as to say that a brand can run completely out of Facebook and I’m almost ready to put money on the fact that some will.
With costs involved with the upkeep and creation of homepages for brands, some smaller start-ups will take full advantage of Facebook’s new features – the man who can embrace the future has no fear of getting left behind.