What Facebook’s New Timeline Means for Marketers

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DIGITAS – Late last week, Facebook finally previewed its new Timeline profile view, making it available to any users who wished to try it out before everyone’s profile is switched to the new view on Dec. 22. While it’s likely many of you have already seen the new Timeline and had a chance to familiarize yourselves with it, it’s important to consider its implications for marketers and brands.

What follows is an excerpt from a “Digitas Perspective” client letter written by Beth McCabe, Digitas‘ vice president and director for social marketing and technology. You can read the full letter here.

Brand Pages: As of right now, brand pages have not changed to a Timeline view. While we do know that Facebook is working on them and there will be changes eventually, no dates have been given yet, and it’s unknown what the changes will be.

“Likes” in the Timeline: Timeline is a shift from a chronological posting of your activity on the platform to aggregated content displayed by relevancy via Graph Rank. Consequently, stories posted when users “like” your brand’s page may not be shown as the top story on their profile pages for long. Brand “likes” will be collected together and displayed as a group within the time period the actions were taken. This means that they may drift down the page and be shown with older content. In the same vein, because it is much easier to explore a user’s history on the Timeline, older “likes” will be uncovered as a user drills into past months and years in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Sponsored Stories: Though the number and format of sponsored stories has not changed on the newsfeed, they have been reduced within the profile Timeline environment. In the “old Facebook,” there could be upwards of seven sponsored stories along the right-hand column of a user’s profile. Now, with the addition of the Timeline navigator, the number of sponsored stories has been reduced to approximately two to three. As Timeline invites users to explore friends’ “digital scrapbook,” time spent on Timeline profiles will arguably increase because there is more to do and more to see. This adds to the value of the ticker’s real estate for brands and the stories their apps post there.

Graph Rank: For a long time, Edge Rank has been Facebook’s algorithm for determining relevancy and filtering the content shown on users’ newsfeeds. Graph Rank takes Edge Rank and adds Open Graph apps to the equation, including factors like how often you or your friends interact with content posted by an app. This rewards apps that are popular by pulling them to the top of the feed and highlighting their use. “How often will this app be used?” is a question we should strongly consider when designing these apps for our clients. Apps that only publish stories once (for example, when you first use them) will be less valuable to brands because they are less likely to earn high Graph Rank and will tend to drift to the bottom of the pile.

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