Why marketers should embrace Facebook’s new Timeline for brands

Facebook’s new Timeline for brands has sparked a firestorm of reactions, in particular from apps that have built their business models on Facebook’s vanishing tabs.

As Timeline for brands rolls out, these brands will no longer be able to set their apps as their default landing pages. And while that will very likely generate no small degree of complaints by those accustomed to using Facebook a certain way, here’s why this is a good thing that should be embraced.

The move away from static landing pages and toward stories in the news feed will help marketers focus their efforts on listening and responding to their audience. In fact, Facebook execs have been reminding marketers that reaching and engaging a new audience the single most important thing you can do.

Marketers have been conditioned to believe that the number of likes on a page was more important than the conversation. But the truth is that accumulating a massive amount of likes does not always translate to sales. Even an artist like Lady Gaga who has millions of fans and followers has a very low engagement rate on a daily basis. It’s the nature of the platform.

Facebook’s changes will do a lot to help marketers shift their thinking about social marketing. In particular, it will help them appreciate the power and the effectiveness of the user’s news feed.

As Facebook designer Sam Lessin said of the new features, they were created first with people in mind, but that “organizations have identities, that a nonprofit, a sports team, all have identities that they want to express… It’s a phase shift for the company overall and how we think about identity.” He concluded with the statement, “A lot of brands aren’t great storytellers, but the best ones are.”

Based on my own company’s experience with delivering marketing message in the news feed, we’ve found that good storytelling is a lot more effective than simple advertising. In fact, we can support Facebook’s claim that news feed messages perform three to ten times better than other types of social ads. One of the most interesting stats that pops out is that a recommendation in the news feed provides the best engagement levels, three to five times higher than non-recommended news feed posts.

We have seen news feed marketing deliver great results for lifestyle brands like Glam Media (publishing network), Bliss (cosmetics), and small businesses like Neighborhoodies (apparel) as well as national brands like Papa John’s Pizza and Guitar Center, and we expect that Facebook’s updated marketing products will return similar improved results for most marketers.

Additionally, one of the great unsung benefits of Facebook’s updates is mobile reach. More than 45 percent of Facebook users are viewing content on their phones. So, especially in allowing sponsored posts to run on the mobile apps, Facebook has just streamlined social marketing: One status update, and you’re done. This is much cheaper, easier, and more effective than having to buy mobile ads.

While the adjustment phase and learning curve may take some twists and turns, our data show that marketers should be very optimistic about Facebook’s new direction. All in all, these changes require marketers become more conversational with their fans. This is a good thing. After all, the power of Facebook and Twitter is in you sharing your stories and with the world.

Headliner.fm CEO Mike More is a serial entrepreneur with more than 18 years of experience in the media industry as a producer, song writer, and publishing executive. He also founded Headliner, a social recommendation platform that allows marketers to reach and engage a highly targeted audience in the news feed on Facebook and Twitter without having to have them like or follow them first.

Image courtesy of ra2studio, Shutterstock


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