If the rumors are true, the company will announce Facebook Timeline for brand pages tomorrow at fMC, its first-ever event for marketers in NYC. Numerous blog posts have been written offering advice on how marketers should prepare based entirely on speculation.
I have been thinking about this since last September since Mark Zuckerberg first showed Timeline at the f8 conference. At the time, I jumped on the developer hack available to get early access to Timeline so that I could think about what it would mean eventually for companies. I wrote a post on my agency’s blog offering this thinking, and since then have tried to follow through on it with my own client work.
Since this advice is even more relevant on the eve of fMC, I am re-sharing it here and updating it with new recommendations from the last week. All of these recommendations are based on the notion that Facebook is now a service for “telling the story of your life.”
Think in terms of stories
Don’t think of content you publish as “updates” or “posts”. Think of every one as an opportunity to tell the story of your company. This means bringing out the human side of your company.
How is your team interacting with customers? What’s going on inside the company that show your culture? What events are your team members attending — both large and small? Your publishing strategy should be more about getting your brand ambassadors to post on your wall than your “brand” does.
Stories are visual
Perhaps the most striking thing about the Facebook changes are the way photos are displayed. Gone are the thumbnail images. Don’t let the photo and video album app be underutilized. Gather as much in the way of photos and videos from employees, create more albums and tell stories through captions.
Once Timeline comes to business pages, those assets will fill it up nicely and spark more interaction with followers, just like those personal photos do among your friends.
The most important visual will be the cover photo image. Companies need to start identifying what could be candidates for the first cover photo image, as well as subsequent ones. Don’t think about traditional graphics or stock photos of the outside of the office. Think high-resolution, professional-style imagery of products, people (employees, customers, partners, community members). Think about the most powerful images you see on media sites, on Instagram or Flickr and how yours can follow that style.
You’ll also want to factor the rotation of the cover image in conjunction with campaigns, announcements, etc. and look at how to build this into your overall publishing schedule.
Populating company milestones
Similar to the personal timeline, where you can create “life event posts”, start charting similar company milestones for a company timeline. Think about awards, great customer events, company anniversaries, and others. Use those photos you took at the events/milestones to illustrate them
Content as apps
Among the Facebook announcements, there was a huge emphasis on Facebook as an app platform. The new Timeline shows people’s use of these apps and the content they are consuming in an elegant way. Facebook’s new Open Graph means that there will be much stronger and deeper implicit social recommendations that come from users’ consumption of content, as shown through apps like Spotify or Wall Street Journal’s social newspaper.
Think about how you can leverage the Open Graph to create a kind of reader app that exposes your valuable content like blog posts, presentations, how-to documents through Facebook and through your web site. As part of this, the ‘Like’ button is morphing to become more action-oriented using words like “read,” “watch,” “listen”. If your great how-to document is accompanied with a “Reading How-To Solve X Problem” button and customer clicks it, that social recommendation is much more powerful.
How else are you preparing? Let’s compare notes during and after tomorrow’s event.