We’re all learning about how best to use timeline right now, so it’s probably a good thing that brand pages haven’t migrated to this new layout yet.
While we do know that Facebook is working on upgrading brand pages, no dates have been given for anything new and it’s unknown what the changes will be. Most likely individual users’ experiences with timeline will dictate whether the social network will extend the format to pages.
Meanwhile, timeline profiles have other implications for brands on Facebook.
Timeline is a shift from a chronological posting of your activity on the platform to aggregated content displayed by relevancy via Graph Rank. Consequently, stories posted when users like your brand’s page may not be shown as the top story on their profile pages for long.
Brand likes will be collected together and displayed as a group within the time period the actions were taken. This means that they may drift down the page and be shown with older content. In the same vein, because it is much easier to explore a user’s history on the timeline, older likes will be uncovered as a user drills into past months and years in a way that wasn’t possible before.
Though the number and format of sponsored stories has not changed on the home page’s news feed and ticker, the number of these promotions appearing on the page has droppe at least for now.
On the previous version of the profile (see the lead three of these ad units appear on timeline pages. with the addition of the timeline, only two or three sponsored stories he number of sponsored Stories has been reduced to approximately two to three.
This seems like a paradox because the amount of time people may spend perusing timeline pages might increase compared to the old profiles, simply because there’s more to do. If anything, promotions on profile pages become more valuable as a result.
For a long time, Edge Rank has been Facebook’s algorithm for determining relevancy and filtering the content shown on users’ news feeds.
Graph Rank adds open graph to the equation, including factors like how often you or your friends interact with content posted by an app. This rewards apps that are popular by pulling them to the top of the feed and highlighting their use.
“How often will this app be used?” is a question we should strongly consider when designing these apps for our clients apps that only publish stories once (for example, when you first use them) will be less valuable to brands because they are less likely to earn high Graph Rank and will tend to drift to the bottom of the pile.
Since timeline and Graph Rank are still so new, everything we’ve pointed out here could change over time. We can only hope that Facebook publishes guidelines for brands on how to take advantage of timeline?
Readers, what sorts of opportunities and challenges do you see for brands in the new timeline environment?
Guest writer Beth McCabe is vice president and Director of social marketing and technology at Digitas.