As anticipated, Facebook Timeline for Pages was announced Wednesday. The buzz is deafening. Us social media types don’t lack opinions or channels to share them. Among my network, the chatter is mostly positive, obsessed with aesthetics of the interface, new navigation patterns and the placement of things like Apps, Photos and the like. But this, my “friends,” is not the real story here.
Yes, this is a beautiful unified design standard that is way more appealing than the default “Wall” tab on Facebook. The organizing principles appeal to Brand Managers in the same way it did my type A friends upon Timeline’s launch for personal pages. But if you look behind the headlines, functional analysis and feature listings, there’s an underlying storyline that needs to be told. The story, is Stories.
If you read between the lines, you’ll discover that the entire Facebook platform is organized around the generation and amplification of stories. Marketers should be singularly focused to do both effectively. Here’s how: Timeline helps brands become better storytellers and extends the reach of those stories to more customers and prospects.
- Every brand has a story. Tell yours.
Few of us know the origins of the products we use and companies we love. Did you know American Express started as a courier service in the late 1800’s?Coca-Cola was invented as a concoction to cure headaches. Paul Sperry founded Sperry Top-Sider after studying the ice-grabbing paw of his loyal dog Prince in 1935. The Timeline is equal parts archive and scrapbook, capturing the rich history of brands and surfacing it for discovery and sharing.
- Stories get the “star” treatment.
At Brand Networks we no longer refer to updates as “posts.” They are Stories, carefully curated for discovery and sharing. Important Stories can now maintain the spotlight at the top of the Timeline by assigning it a “Star” or “Pinning” it. Good storytellers are also good curators, so they know “starworthy” stories when they read or write them. Stop posting updates and start sharing Stories.
- Apps are story generation engines – verbs are the fuel.
Facebook coined the term “Social by Design” to describe the process by which brands, and by proxy developers, should be creating experiences with social in the DNA. What this means to us is that apps only succeed if they are designed to help users share Stories. The placement of the application navigation along the top of the new Timeline Page is a lot less important than the fact that apps can create “custom actions” like “pinning” and “listening.” Stories need action, so build your apps around verbs.
- A story worth telling is one worth amplifying.
Stories that are not amplified rarely reach beyond your existing inner circle. Facebook’s Sponsored Stories are the answer to amplifying your brand’s stories to and through your existing Page likes and App users. In marketing circles, customer acquisition and retention campaigns are often linear. On the Facebook Platform, this whole process is a circle. With the advent of Featured Stories, the circle now reaches mobile users. Great stories, when amplified, are the key to both acquiring new customers while engaging and retaining your existing ones.
- A picture paints a thousand words.
Life magazine taught us that images are so often more powerful storytellers than words. This is empirically confirmed on the Facebook Platform. Any admin of a Facebook page can rattle off a percentage increase when a post includes a compelling image vs. text alone. The weighting of Stories with a photo on Timeline for Pages is significant. Stories without images will be lost on Timeline as they are in people’s news feeds.
Are you ready to make your company, your brand, your agency a better storyteller? I can tell you my firm was not. Six months ago we had media planners who planned Facebook Marketplace Ads to acquire new fans. We had content managers who planned messaging for our clients to keep their fans engaged. These people sat in different areas of the office, used opposite sides of their brains, and rarely found reason for collaboration. That is until we centered ourselves around one simple organizing principle. The same principle, by the way, the new Timeline and the Facebook platform is centered around: Stories.
Now we have one team, Story Planners. They sit together and use both sides of the brain at the same time. They plan stories using images and words in creative ways. They prioritize and in many cases localize these Stories to suit the business objectives of our clients. They turn editorial decisions into advertising plans and amplify the stories that matter. They use analytics to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
So don’t obsess about your new Timeline cover photo or how a user’s eyeball will scan your new page layout. Rather, spend that time to become the storyteller your brand deserves, because every brand has a story.