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Ready or Not, Facebook Timeline Is Here

Posted Monday, April 23, 2012, at 9:03 PM

All hail Facebook Timeline. Like it or not, the social media giant's much anticipated design overhaul for individual users early this year has now been applied to all business pages, too.

The conversion for individuals left FaceBook with more than a few battle scars, as many were uncomfortable with the new organization of content on the page and the fact they were forced into the change.

Timeline for businesses, however, has already proven to have significant upside for brands. It's been touted as encouraging greater user interaction with brand posts. Social engagement analytics firm, Simply Measured, put that assertion to the test in a recent study comparing fan engagement levels both before and after the Timeline update for 15 large brands.

These brands experienced a 14 percent improvement in fan engagement and a 46 percent increase in content engagement after the Timeline redesign was put into effect. One reason for the increase is that photos and videos are now displayed much more prominently, encouraging fan response.

To fully leverage the new features offered by Facebook Timeline for brands, try these tips.

Timeline gives brands more control over how their page looks and feels, beginning with a newly added cover photo at the top of your page. Ensure your photo speaks to your brand's unique identity. It should have impact and grab attention. Consider changing it monthly to ensure your page feels fresh to return visitors.

Perhaps the most exciting of the new Timeline features is the ability to message your fans directly, allowing for deeper interaction.

Gone are the days where a default tab could be set up for users to be taken to when first visiting your Facebook page. Now it's more important than ever that the top few posts on your page are interesting enough to compel new page visitors to "Like" your page.

You also have control over three apps, displayed just below your cover photo. While the "Photos" app will always be resident in the first spot, the other three are up for grabs. One or more of these could take users to a promotional page in lieu of auto-routing new users like you could before.

Also, you now have the freedom to go back in time and add important corporate milestones.

Icons in the upper-right-hand corner of each post allow you to star or pin it. Starring indicates the post is important on your brand page, doubling its size across the entire width of your timeline. Pinning a post places a duplicate copy of it directly at the top of your timeline, to ensure all those visiting your page see it. Savvy marketers will begin to design posts specifically to be pinned for new users to the page.

While the new Facebook Timeline layout may take some getting used to, the upside for brands to drive stronger fan engagement is undeniable.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN. www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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Lori spent over 15 years leading corporate marketing and communications divisions in the financial services, hospitality and franchise restaurant sectors. As Director of Target Marketing for the Hampton Hotels brand of Hilton Hotels Corporation, Lori managed promotional, direct and Web marketing, as well as custom publishing, for the brand's franchise system. In her role as Vice President of Employee Communications and Development for First Horizon National Corporation, she managed the corporation's internal culture initiatives, communications, and employee recognition programs. Other positions held include Sr. Communications Director/Corporate Editor for TCBY Enterprises, Inc., and Vice President of Marketing for First National Banking Company. Lori is a founding sponsor and member of the Board of Directors for LaunchMemphis -- an organization committed to developing an entrepreneurial community in Memphis comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and local organizations. In addition, Lori is on the Board of Directors of the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South and on the Advisory Board for the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. She is a sought-after speaker in the Memphis area, delivering sales and marketing keynote addresses and workshops to organizations like: the Memphis Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the Sales & Marketing Society of the Mid-South, LaunchMemphis, EmergeMemphis, the Memphis Regional Chamber, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Lori holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in addition to having completed the University of Colorado's School of Bank Marketing and Management. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including local and district Addy's, Communicator awards, and a Telly. She received recognition as one of the Memphis Business Journal's "Top 40 Under 40" recipients in 2009. Lori also served as a contributing ghost writer for the renowned "Complete Idiot's Guide to Guerilla Marketing." Beyond her passions for marketing and dogs of all shapes and sizes, Lori is an avid traveler, runner and foodie.