Timeline for pages is here, and Facebook is taking no prisoners. You have two choices: adapt and grow or continue business-as-usual and flounder.
Timeline is all about visual engagement. Why? Facebook wants you to be real; the new layouts suggest the story behind a brand are quite similar to the story behind a person’s life. They have completely revamped the layout and provided a visual haven for story-telling, engagement, expression--everything social media should be.
If you have been hesitant to take the leap into social media, now is the time. With the recent changes, those who were brave enough to spend shrinking marketing budgets on their social media strategy will be hesitant to trash their hard work. So why not take advantage of the lag-time and leap-frog your competition?
The start gun has fired, and you need to get moving.
Where do you begin? Start at the beginning, of course. When people land on your page the cover is the first thing they will see. The cover has become a massive social media billboard that is the centerpiece, experience, and culmination of your entire brand history (the 'timeline').
The image you dub the crown of your profile is very, very important. To illustrate my point, think about the last time you played Dirty Santa--a gift-giving game with a underlying self-centered twist.
You show up with a Christmas sweater and a fat grin, but you are there for one reason--to snag the best gift. As the ravaging wolves gather around a pool of gifts, Grandma passes out the numbers. How do you choose? Regardless of what is really inside, you make your judgement based upon the wrapping. Do you go big or small? Box or bag? Glitter paper and bow or newspaper and duct tape? The point is, public-facing content is the measuring stick of selection. It doesn’t determine long term satisfaction with what’s inside the box, but it sure as heck gets people looking inside. The Timeline cover is becoming the gift-wrap for your business.
Most brands are happy dusting off an old picture from a buried album somewhere and calling it a day; but if you take time to wrap your package with care, it will get picked first, regardless of what’s inside. Likewise, if you are giving away gold but your gift-wrapping is sloppy, it will almost certainly get left on the table.
You must be willing to embrace the story making process and take the opportunity to showcase your brand’s true colors.
Generation Y doesn’t care what you have to say unless you have been endorsed by their friends, and this happens on Facebook -- not your website. For many, your Facebook cover will be the the first encounter they have with your brand and, for better or for worse, this will set the tone for the whole experience. You have a couple of seconds to make an impression before attention is lost. Make ‘em count.
The cover feature will be a blessing to some and a curse to others. But we want to give away a few tips that may help your media marketing efforts come out on top.
Expression - “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” - Dr. Seuss
Organizations, like people, have real identities that can be expressed. People have likes and dislikes, things that drive them crazy and songs that make them want to dance. Consider what characteristics make up your brand, and keep an eye out for:
- Color: The first thing an eye is going to register is color – or lack of it.
- Content: Use an image that captures the experience of who you are. Starbucks is the “premier roasters of specialty coffee in the world,” and they chose a cover (pictured below) that invites the viewer into the history and experience of their brand. This photo is timeless, nostalgic, and impactful for anyone.
- Consistency: People don’t have split personalities – and neither should your brand. Your twitter, Facebook, and website need to project the same image.
Human touch - “We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” -Dr Seuss
People are quirky, unique and dorky. Pull down the online facade. The real you is better--even if it is a little raw. People will love you for it. BE AUTHENTIC. No one is going to waste their time investigating businesses that aren’t being real with them. Authentic is friendly. Authentic is fun. Authentic is dorky. Authentic is honest. Consumers know real when they see it, and it takes them about three seconds to pass that judgment. Let your Facebook cover become the window into the heart of your organization.
Story telling - “Being crazy isn’t enough.” - Dr. Seuss
Be wild and fun, yes. But don’t miss the opportunity connect on a deeper level with your followers. A picture is worth a thousand words. So stop selling and start telling. Some of the most compelling stories don’t require any words. Humanize your brand and help them become a part of your community -- instead of just promoting to them.
Creativity - “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” - Dr. Seuss
Clean + simple = hip. Don’t be generic. You NEED to make a powerful first impression.
How will you show your audience that you are special? Play your strengths. How you will you show them THEY are special? Meet their needs. Consider investing some time and money into your cover. Again, you only have a few precious seconds to grab their attention.
If you are having trouble getting your creative juices to bubble, then look at what others are doing, and apply it to your business. The ideas will start flowing in no time!
Advertising - They can smell it from a mile away, and it makes everyone gag. Facebook project director Gokul Rajaram says it best: “Brands don’t want to be overly promotional; in the long-term, they know it’s a turn-off to people… They want to have a deeper connection.”
Two thirds of businesses on Facebook are almost purely promotional. I know marketers live by CTA’s, but their relationships are suffering for it. Don’t believe me? Just look at most brand pages; can you hear the crickets?! Hone your cover design efforts on the story telling and human experience, and the rest will take care of itself.
Trying to be hip - “Be who you are and say what you feel because those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter!” ~ Dr. Seuss
Again, be authentic. If your business is small, comfortable, and boasts of old-fashioned values, then your cover design should reflect that. No sense in trying to be something you’re not.
The Everyone-else-is-doing-it effort - “In my world, everyone’s a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!” ~ Dr. Seuss
Social media isn’t just a side dish. Jumping into Timeline “just because” won’t get your biz pooping the SoMe rainbows and butterflies everyone is buzzing about. But the move will get you awful ROI and an icky image that will turn visitors away.
Give your cover image the elbow grease and thought it calls for, and you may just stand above the crowd.
Article by: Micah Whitehead, Imagineer || @micahdwhitehead