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What Facebook Timeline means for your brand

Ruth Sawyer, author of The Way of the Story Teller once said: “I believe it is the easiest thing in the world to tell a story — and the hardest to find a fine story teller.”

The art of storytelling has, over millennia, been a pivotal part of the human experience. It ensured the survival of cultural practices all over the globe and of course slight embellishment of said stories also allowed some societies to totally rewrite history, however that’s another story for another day.

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At its very heart, the new Facebook Timeline is about building a story about your identity. As brands ponder what the new design means for their own existing Fan Pages, one immediate opportunity that presents itself is Timeline’s heavily reliance on “social apps”.

Timeline allows Facebook users to more effectively tell their stories or as Mark Zuckerberg puts it, “Express who you are through all the things you do—the music you love, the recipes you enjoy, the runs you take and more.”

The deeper integration of branded social apps not only provides brands with a considerably larger piece of real estate on their fans’ profiles, it’s also added a range of new actions that Facebook users can use to describe their interaction with the business’ app. What this does, is allow users to more accurately describe the activities they take with your content.

So instead of simply “liking” a great recipe on your site, Facebook users can also “cook” a dish, or plan future recipes they plan to cook.

What this means for your app is that a person can more authentically connect with your content, which in turn means the amplified message will offer that same Facebook user’s friends a more compelling reason to engage with your content above simply “liking” it.

Of course the other pressing question on the collective minds of brand custodians will be, is the new Timeline profile going to be translated across to brand pages? And if so, how closely will it resemble the design of the current Timeline design? Well the answer to that is anyone’s guess, however if history is anything to go by, the odds of a resemblance are quite likely.

To quote tech blogger Paul Papadimitriou, “Brands have personas. Brands have a past, a present and a future. At its essence, branding is about storytelling. The Timeline experience was made for them.”

Timeline will, for the first time, allow brands to authentically tell their story, with linear status updates giving way to a more compelling look that tells a story via page updates, events, photos and social apps to the amazing branding opportunity the new customisable billboard picture provides.

Lessons from history teach us that the brands that have managed to stand the test of time are the ones that have found a way to use nostalgia and emotional connection to develop an authentic relationship with their customers. Timeline provides brands with yet another opportunity to further build on that narrative.

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