From Timeline to Stories… Where is Facebook Taking Us?

Where is Facebook leading us?
Where is Facebook leading us?

We’re three weeks away from Facebook switching branded corporate pages to their Timeline format on March 30th.  Almost simultaneously, Facebook is launching its premium ad service referred to as “Stories.”  The timing is certainly more than a coincidence but don’t call it a conspiracy theory… just smart business.

Similar to personal profiles, Timeline allows brands to express themselves more personally and visually than ever before. There are milestones, personal messaging options and a nice admin feature. Also, the main image option is a horizontal panoramic that lends itself to dramatically represent your brand.  But this is where some of the skepticism arises.

Like other marketers, my first thought was this would be the perfect place to insert targeted brand messages.  Wrong!  Facebook has placed strict guidelines as to what can be displayed within these cover images.  For example, no calls-to-action or contact information are allowed.

Now with the launch of “Stories” we see part of the reasoning behind this. They’ve got a business to run! Facebook is basically

turning posts into advertisements.  The idea is people will be more engaged and motivated by what their friends have to say versus what advertisers tell them.

It’s a new level of advertising engagement that clearly falls in line with Facebook’s model.  In my opinion, it’s a potentially beneficial ad platform for brands although one that probably wouldn’t transfer as smoothly without the migration of corporate pages to the new Timeline format.

By removing the ability to place incentives, contact info and calls-to-action in Timeline, Facebook is leveraging their “Stories” advertising model as a more viable option for brands. Like all of Facebook’s other “enhancements,” we’ll all need to learn to acclimate to change once again.  From a marketing perspective, if you haven’t already, it’s time to roll-up our sleeves and begin working on the next great Facebook transition package!  Good luck telling YOUR story…

by Steve Iaconis, Director of Marketing and Client Services at Oblique Design