December 27, 2011
By BJ Cook,
What to do about the Facebook Timeline
The Facebook Timeline is coming and there is not too much you can do about it. I don’t mean coming in the sense that it will soon be released (it already is), I mean it is coming in the sense that you are soon going to have one – like it or not. Facebook has made it clear that Timelines are the way Facebook is going and these will basically be the story of your life. Are you ready for the story of your life to be displayed? Is your company ready for the story of its existence to be displayed? How will this affect your digital marketing plan? What does this all mean – let’s explore.
First off many users have been concerned about their privacy, and if the timeline is not updated or edited I can see why. When you look back on the Timeline it is the story of your life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. This can work for or against you. Yes, the posts that Facebook is digging up have always been available – but for someone to look through them they would have had to put in some serious time and effort to keep clicking “More Stories”. They would basically have to be the stalker from the movie “Swimfan”. In this new Timeline format your whole history is laid out in one easy to read format. One stupid comment, ex-girlfriend, and bad decision at a time. Fortunately, Facebook provides a way to edit the Timeline. Just select the post you want to remove from the timeline and click “hide” – it will save you a lot of hassle. The idea is that you are able to share your life, and this is a great tool to do it – just be careful that you only share the parts that you want.
The part that is interesting to me as a digital marketer is what companies are going to do with the Timeline when they engage with it. The Timeline is a great way to connect with your customers and let them know the story of your brand. It will put a humanizing face on the company and show that people work at your company. Humanizing your company is an excellent digital marketing technique. Each message and each historic event shows that your company was built by people, and is not some random entity. Additionally (and I think more importantly), you can put a message out and do not necessarily have to sustain a community. Yes, interaction will always be important on Facebook, but with the Timeline you will be able to put out a consistent message without monitoring the network all the time. This is great for smaller companies and/or companies that do not have a full time social media person.
The Timeline, like any new social media event provides opportunities as well as challenges. It is important to recognize that even though these are new updates, they are here to stay. The Timeline is something you are going to have to embrace for your personal life, and your company is going to have to embrace for digital marketing. Learn to use it and make it work for you, then not only will you have a great past, you will also be looking good in the future.