Marketing in the Timeline Era

Marketing in the Timeline era This is a guestpost by Jim Belosic, CEO and co-founder of ShortStack.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on news regarding Facebook then you haven’t missed the multitude of articles discussing whether the change to Timeline has been a good or bad thing for business pages and fan engagement.

Numerous studies have been released saying that pages are seeing an increase in fan engagement since the switch and right behind those are studies revealing the exact opposite. So which is true? The answer is neither.

The truth is, it’s always been a Timeline era. The switch to Timeline has not changed any of the rules on Facebook. Was it easier to market prior to Timeline? Yes. But just because it was easier doesn’t mean it was being done properly. Businesses with a strong social media strategy that has proven to work will continue to see success with Timeline. The businesses that are blaming Timeline for negative changes in engagement are going to be disappointed to learn the problem is probably with their social media strategy, not with Facebook.

Marketing in the Timeline era is about getting back to basics. With all the hype surrounding Timeline, here’s some tips that businesses may have forgotten to truly be successful on Facebook.

Focus on Your Existing Fan Base

Focus on your existing fan base

Don’t exclude your existing fans. Businesses were obsessed with default landing tabs and many were convinced the world was going to end when Facebook took them away. In fact, Francisco just wrote an article on how custom tabs aren’t dead but more alive than ever. He accurately addresses how custom tabs weren’t as successful as everyone had previously thought; and how custom tabs are now more successful than they’re being credited for.

Facebook has never been about getting in the face of a million strangers, it’s about getting your message out to your fans — your fans who already love you and want to share how cool you are with their friends. Facebook is organic and referral-based by nature — something businesses need to keep in mind when building a successful Facebook presence.

If you’re unsure how to engage your fans, run some test content. Try posting an update with a video or a photo, show trends, pick an interesting fact about your history and post something new each week, offer an awesome deal or a prize for entering a contest. Use Facebook analytics to see what your fans are responding best to and use your existing fans to bring you new fans. Facebook analytics are free to all business page owners. In addition, if you use a third party application to create custom tabs on Facebook, most platforms include their own analytics that track engagement.

Measuring fans does not measure success

Facebook new Likes We touched on this lightly before, but it’s worth mentioning again. We hear clients say everyday, “I want to create a tab that gets me more fans.” Any social media guru, marketer, or expert will tell you, it’s not about getting more fans, and it never has been.

If you have 5,000 fans and you hold a contest and your fan base increases to 10,000 fans, that’s great for your likes, but did your actions increase? In the long run, gaining 5,000 new fans won’t mean anything for your business if none of those fans are engaging with your brand.

Use Timeline for its advantages

Use Facebook Timeline for its advantages

Yep, you heard right, Timeline has advantages. We’re not just talking about the ability to pin and highlight posts, we’re talking about the transparency that the Timeline layout offers. For the first time since traditional websites, Facebook now allows a business to tell their story, from day one.  There is room for a huge amount of content on the page. Without default landing tabs, everyone who visits your page learns about your history and sees how you engage with your fans.

It’s now more important than ever to make sure your Facebook content is clean and up to date. You need to be answering questions, thanking your happy customers, and dealing with your unsatisfied customers. Someone interested in your business can see all of this upon visiting your page, so their first impression of your business is in your hands. This means that Timeline can be either beneficial or detrimental to a business’s Facebook page.

Facebook takes time

“Social networking is a full time job” has become a cliche in our line of work, but the adage is true. A successful Facebook presence takes lots of effort and tremendous amount of time and thought. It also takes more than just Facebook to make your page successful. Once you’ve built an amazing page you have to give fans a reason to talk about your brand, so advertise it by posting on your wall, promoting it through email newsletters, even purchasing Facebook ads.

A successful Facebook page does not happen overnight. Timeline has pulled the veil back on what consumers are really interested in. It’s proven that likes aren’t everything, and for some businesses, has revealed the truth about their social media strategy. The key is not to be scared of Facebook, or throw blame at Timeline. Just get back to the basics. It’s the simplest steps that are the most successful, and often times, the most overlooked.

  • Nice post Jim, I think this is the first ever article I came across on marketing with the new Facebook pages timeline.

  • I completely agree about not just focusing on the number of supposed “fans.” I was actually helping a friend with a fitness product, and his business page is overflowing with fans – many of them seeming to be fitness experts, bodybuilders, and other relevant people.  Didn’t matter, he didn’t start getting any real conversions from the page until he focused on more targeted traffic and getting actual leads from those fans.  It’s the same concept in any type of IM / SEO really – you need traffic from people who are actually going to buy into your brand.

  • Great post, it is good to hear a marketer speak to content and communicating with fans or clients rather than numbers. And yes, it is a full time job.

  • I agree Bill, and sometimes it only takes a few minor changes in our approach to turn everything around. You were probably able to see something your friend didn’t.

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Hi Anneliz, I like to follow a simple formula:

    Business > Content > People

    Numbers will grow, the right numbers that is, with time.

    Thanks for stopping by =)

  • Cory Noland

    Timeline, here’s some tips that businesses may have forgotten to truly be successful on Facebook.

    http://olsenspeech.com/
     

  • Fan engagement is much more important than the number of fans that you have.  What’s the point of having 10,000 fans if only a small percentage are paying attention to what you have to say?  That’s why I don’t recommend giving things away in order to get “Likes”.  They are liking you for the wrong reasons.  

  • Brittany Ward

    In my Social Media for PR course, we always discuss how engagement is more important than fan numbers. If you think about that, it’s true. Sure you may have 700 friends, but how are they interacting with your site? your company? 

    I think Timeline is awesome for smaller business and even non-profits. People are already drawn to non-profits for their dedication to helping others. Now that these organizations have the ability to tell their story, it emotionally engages its community.

  • ShortStack

    Brittany, we totally agree. We’ve really enjoyed watching Timeline evolve for business pages it definitely opens the doors for smaller business and non-profits like you are saying and and forces other businesses to get more personal which is what Facebook is all about. 

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Thanks for your comment Nick. There is definitely a fine line between giving something away to get more “likes” and giving something away to a well deserving fan who will then share with their friends that they received an awesome prize from this company they already love.

    By doing the latter you end up pleasing your existing fans and gaining more “likes”

  • Thanks Aliosha! That’s exactly why I wanted to write it. Surfing the internet I was seeing article after article about engagement but no one talking about just how to market with Timeline. Thanks for reading!

    -Jim

  • Thanks Anneliz!

  • kathikruse

    Totally awesome post Jim! (and thanks to Francisco too:-) Everything you say here completely resonates with me. I work with car dealers and their employees and all they ever want to do is get likes.  Some are paying for likes (they think I don’t know).  You can’t buy love, baby.

  • Samantha Braxton

    The story is told by Ryan and, if you have something similar going on, share it with me.

    http://www.laminatesfloorscheap.com/
     

  • Michele Aki

    I think the visual element in Timeline should not be ignored too.

  • Thanks for a great read Jim! “back to basics” correct!

  • A Villa

    Great Post!

    I used to hate the Facebook timeline, but now I see it completley differently! I like the way that organizations can tell their story. This was a way of thinking that I would have never imagined. I have now learned how to properly engage my real Facebook fans. I agree with most of the comments below ” You Cant Buy Love” so don’t sell your likes!

    Again, Great post!

  • A successful Facebook page does not happen overnight.

  • It’s the simplest steps that are the most successful, and often times, the most overlooked.

  • It’s the simplest steps that are the most successful, and often times, the most overlooked.

  • Facebook then you haven’t missed the multitude of articles discussing
    whether the change to Timeline has been a good or bad thing for business
    pages and fan engagement.

  • The truth is, it’s always been a Timeline era.

  • you haven’t missed the multitude of articles discussing whether the
    change to Timeline has been a good or bad thing for business pages and
    fan engagement.

  • Timeline for negative changes in engagement are going to be disappointed
    to learn the problem is probably with their social media strategy, not
    with Facebook.

  • The switch to Timeline has not changed any of the rules on Facebook.

  • Numerous studies have been released saying that pages are seeing an
    increase in fan engagement since the switch and right behind those are
    studies revealing the exact opposite. So which is true? The answer is
    neither.
     

  • The problem is probably with their social media strategy, not with Facebook.

  • With all the hype surrounding Timeline, here’s some tips that businesses may have forgotten to truly be successful on Facebook.

  •  Timeline is really a very good tool when it comes to social media marketing. But the problem with brand pages timeline is that they are very similar to profile timelines. We tend to get confused often. There is still a question prevailing stating – Is timeline good or bad for business pages?

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