The VPM Blog

Facebook’s New Timeline “Leaps” Into Brand Pages

Posted by Don Crow on Mar 29, 2012 4:30:19 AM

February 28th was my birthday. A few hours later on February 29th, two more great phenomenons occurred: leap day and the start of Mark Zuckerburg and team rolling out timeline pages for brands.

Coincidence? Well, maybe only with the leap year. I seriously doubt I’ve yet to rate on Facebook’s radar.

But here is where my birthday plays into all this and what it means for you, the brand, non-profit or small business owner who has just been forcibly made aware your Facebook page is changing.

Over 200 people posted some version of, “Happy Birthday” on my personal timeline over a 3 day period. There were a few eager beavers who started as early as February 26th, but 92% of the posts came on February 28th– the actual day in the spotlight. Now, on the surface that may seem impressive. 212 unique people who I share a Facebook connection with took time out to comment on my timeline.

Let’s set the stage further. Facebook has made it so easy on personal news feeds to recognize an event or “birthday” in this case, that it would be almost inexcusable to NOT bestow a wish upon a friend on their day. Mobile users? Yup, it is easy for them too. Birthdays appear at the top of the list under the Events tab.

So why then did only 22% of my Facebook friends take the time to wish me, “Happy Birthday?” Suddenly that 212 seems sort of pitiful doesn’t it? Twitter was even worse….4 out of almost 1,250.

I’m telling myself there was a high percentage of folks who gave up Facebook for Lent this year. Therefore, they couldn’t comment on my birthday. Was that percentage 78? Not at all.

Truth is, if it weren’t so easy for social engagement on Facebook, that 22% would have been lower. What’s social engagement? When you and your friends have a conversation online, via sites and social tools, you are creating – social engagement. TahDah! In this case, Friend B sees friend A writes on Don’s wall. Friend B is friends with Don and follows Friend A’s lead. Both Friends A & B were exposed to the fact that February 28th was Don’s birthday, Friend A just happened to act first.

So what has happened and what’s the point?

People have learned to ignore the obvious. Any marketer who lived through direct mail, telemarketing, print, display, banner, popup (okay, maybe not popup), radio and yes, even TV ads will tell you – consumers (all of us, you included) have gotten crazy smart at blocking out the noise that is advertising.

A section of your news feed page with content generated by Facebook (friend birthdays) is not content from your friends, or more importantly, you, so it gets bypassed. It is a victim of being ‘obvious.’

And brands and pages on Facebook are no exception. You post, you cajole, you beg, you suggest and still, the same 10-15% of your followers respond on a regular basis. Rarely do you pull in a new like or share. So, brand and page managers start running contests and ads and guess what, the numbers likely go up. For a short time. Then you’re back to the question of long term follower and fan engagement – community building.

Enter stage right, Facebook Timeline for Brands.

However, it isn’t going to make things easier for you brand and page manager. It very likely will make them more difficult. Just as timeline for personal profiles allowed more imagery and information sharing, that same level of interaction will now be expected for your business page.

Big brands are ready – they’ve been steady working and waiting, tweaking and refining and hovering over the “preview” button.

The rest of us got the news on leap day, but tomorrow is the big day. It’s time to spruce up your images, video, written “about us” type info and determine your timeline strategy. Facebook may not have been around when you launched your now $13.5MM business out of your garage 10 years ago, but today’s fans won’t know the difference if they take time to scroll back through your timeline. This is your chance to develop a deeper relationship and engage further with existing and new fans.

This is your chance to grow from 10% engagement to 22% engagement. Squander it, and 10% will very soon look like an Olympic level feat. Or, you can stick with traditional media – the old marketers comfort zone as I call it – and enjoy numbers like this:

  • 4-6% for Direct Mail
  • 5% for Print
  • 9-22% Open rate for email, with another 2-10% click-thru-rate

Overall, greater than 50% of all marketing spend is still being spent on channels which do not show a direct return on investment.

Do yourself a favor – go invest the time on your brand or business page and start brainstorming ideas for upcoming Facebook engagement campaigns. Not ads – those have a place too – but on stories and content which is easily shared and which your fans want to share. That’s how you generate the socially engaged effect of pulling in friends of followers and so on.

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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