U.S. Congress Works Milestones On Facebook Timeline

The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services recently launched a Facebook timeline that includes a long list of milestones going back to 1865, when the committee was founded.

The committee’s long history and dizzying array of issues, from the banking system to housing and insurance, has resulted in an information-rich timeline that includes video.

Caleb Smith, director of new media for the Committee on Financial Services, shared exclusively with us he approach used to launch timeline.

When did you launch the committee’s Facebook timeline and how long did it take to create?

The new Facebook timeline for the House Committee on Financial Services went public at noon Eastern Time on Monday, March 26. All Facebook pages will automatically transition to the timeline format on March 30, so we wanted to be just ahead of those changes.

It took about two weeks to get everything prepared, from designing the cover photo and producing an introd video to filling out an overview of the committee’s extensive legislative history.

What do you hope to accomplish with the committee’s timeline?

Timeline offers an opportunity to tell our committee’s rich history in a simple, visually compelling way. But timeline is not just about the past. It’s also about the present.

It gives the committee the opportunity to keep followers informed with the most up-to-date information on the economic and financial issues that affect them most, while also providing those same followers an outlet to ask questions and have their voices heard on the things they care about.

You used a video to walk Facebook users through your timeline. How did that come about?

In studying our analytics from past Facebook activity, we’ve consistently seen high levels of engagement from our followers when we present information in a more interactive way — like video, infographics and polls.

We expect the timeline format to enhance that experience even further, so rather than merely telling our followers that we were launching a redesign, we decided to show them all the new ways they can get involved. What better way to do that than with a short, step-by-step video to walk them through all the new changes?

The committee works with numbers and data. How do you plan to keep the timeline visually interesting?

The Financial Services Committee has jurisdiction over the banking system, housing, insurance, and securities and exchanges. But the reality is that these are issues that, ultimately, affect every family in America.

Facebook provides a platform where we can communicate the fundamentals in a way that is both relevant and easy to understand. Our followers can expect to see a diverse array of content from our page, from pictures and videos, to polls, infographics and news articles.

The committee’s Facebook timeline has an extensive list of milestones, dating back to 1865. How did you decide what to include?

We wanted to give folks a complete picture of the committee’s history, without getting bogged down in legal jargon or obscurities.

What resulted was a comprehensive overview of some of the major legislative achievements deriving from the Financial Services Committee, and that is the same standard we’ll use as we highlight future milestones.

How do you plan on using timeline to explain major initiatives, such as the JOBS Act, in the future?

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act was a bipartisan package designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow, hire, and create jobs, and it was comprised of six bills that originated in the Financial Services Committee.

We used Facebook posts to explain what the JOBS Act was all about as it was going through committee, and once it passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming support, we released a video reel highlighting the bipartisan nature of the bill.

Now, it’s already identified as a legislative milestone on our timeline. We’ll continue to use Facebook as a way to educate the public about the legislative process and commons ense policies that have an impact on Main Street, not just Wall Street.

Who did you work with to create the committee’s timeline?

It was a coordinated team effort in identifying the key milestones included on our timeline. As a rule, we erred on the side of providing more information rather than less. The staff at Facebook was also very helpful whenever we ran into bugs during testing.

Did you look at other congressional committees’ Facebook timelines when determining your approach?

Absolutely. In the few short weeks since timeline has been available to pages, there have already been a lot of creative uses of its many features. In planning our own redesign, we first took cues from others who were doing it right, both on and off Capitol Hill.

What’s your favorite timeline feature?

It is really great that people have a one-stop shop to learn about the committee’s nearly 150-year history, but we are equally as excited that it is now easier than ever to keep up with our day-to-day work.

With the new, front-and-center app row just below the cover photo, visitors can quickly connect with us on Twitter, watch one of our latest videos on YouTube, or check out the upcoming hearing schedule, all without ever leaving Facebook.

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