Timeline: Ready Or Not, Here It Comes

Every time I think “a monkey could do this” I go to a meeting and am astonished by what people don’t know about social media. Okay, maybe it’s more like a reality check in how we’re not all wired, and why that’s perhaps a very good thing as summer approaches. (My neighborhood routinely loses power during summer thunderstorms.) So, despite the fact that there is no dearth of articles out there on the Interwebs, here is my take on why you need to get into timeline now.

Facebook Timeline cover of Lydia Polgreen of the NYT

facebook timeline cover of Lydia Polgreen of the NYT

“Timeline what?” you say?

Long story short, Facebook is once again changing things. Specifically, they’re changing how your page looks – not your newsfeed – regardless of whether it’s your personal account or your company page. The distinction between the page and the newsfeed is extremely important because for marketers and consumers alike, it’s all about how we’re getting our news.

If you the consumer “liked” a page, timeline seems to make no difference in how you get news. It certainly hasn’t to me and I’ve not only published my personal timeline, but done the same for the several pages I manage for clients. Oh, and I’ve “liked” a LOT of pages over the last few years, some of whom have also launched timeline. As someone who gets a lot of information first from Facebook, I haven’t see any difference in my newsfeed.

As if to drive home this point, Julia Quinn who I follow on Facebook recently asked how many of us get our information from her page vs. our newsfeeds. Overwhelmingly, most of us said newsfeed – that would the part of social engagement that hasn’t changed on Facebook. Once people hit the “like” button they rarely go back to your page.

Caffe Amouri's Facebook Page

No reason to look at my local coffee shop's page once I've "liked" it - everything shows up in my feed. Unless I want to check out the new timeline or for some reason see the page with different eyes. Unlikely.

In fact, if you do your job well as a marketer or broadcaster, I shouldn’t have to go back to your original page to find out what you’re up to or what you’re offering. Unless I’m being all nosy and want to see your new timeline cover! Or you annoy me. In which case, I’ll visit specifically to “unlike” you.

dislike one finger salute

Let's not.

So if you’re an individual, you may not need to care*. It’ll be one of those things Facebook rolls out on you whether you’re ready or not. If you’re not entirely annoyed, you’ll complain and then just go along with it. Or deactivate, if this really is the last straw for you. Because *timeline, like any Facebook “improvement” tends to reset, rearrange, and reorganize your personal information and privacy settings. Even if you don’t need to care, have a care. See what your page looks like to others, even if your privacy settings are way high.

But if you’re running a page for a company though, you absolutely need to care. Because timeline changes how your page’s information is presented, where the emphasis lies, where you can direct people, and how you can emphasize information and for how long. It changes how and where you can offer specials and deals and calls to action. And it’s far more visual – which is a huge element of your branding and first impressions.

Timeline simultaneously offers up much more of you and your product even as it constrains how you can use the medium. Which means it requires you – the marketer – to be a lot savvier and sophisticated about how you communicate your story. And that, my friends, is the operative word. Facebook’s timeline makes us all, forces us all, to be better storytellers. It forces us to point to what’s really important, and keeps us on our toes about keeping our pages fresh. And it forces us to pay more ongoing attention to people who wander over to our pages but haven’t “liked” it yet. No wonder there have not just been a plethora of articles on the subject and webinars that go into the nitty gritty of timeline and what it means for marketing.

Timeline happens to your page – whether you like it or not – on March 30. If you’re an individual with a personal account, pay attention because of privacy issues. If you’re a page administrator, pay attention because otherwise, you’ll be the org that got caught by surprise, or worse!

Here are a few links that cover the details of timeline and what it means for you or your page. But for my money, nothing beats Amy Porterfield’s webinar.