April 2, 2012
Redesigned Facebook Creates a Challenge For Brands — Marketers Head Back To the Drawing Board as Timeline Becomes Standard
As of March 30, Facebook's new Timeline is no longer optional. With the new format, users of the social network will find it easier to use when it comes to organizing their information. At the same time, brands will have to reformulate their visibility strategies.
By Alex Konanykhin, President, Intuic
Facebook is undergoing the most important transformation of its short and successful career. The new redesign, which from March 30 on will affect all users of the social network, is not a simple makeover. With the new Timeline, the profiles will cease to be a simple collection of likes and dislikes to become a chronological biography that will run through the page.
Until March 30, when we enter someone's profile we see a selection of their most recent activities. Then, we can go to the "Information" tab to get more info, and in the case of company profiles there is an option to create a landing page with personalized content and design.
With the new 'Timeline', this concept is going to radically change. Users will soon be able to tell their contacts their 'whole story' thanks to the new platform, whose star is an algorithm responsible for selecting the 'moments' that will be integrated into the biography. This new digital profile gains in feel and functionality: with fewer clicks we will be able to get to our contacts' information.
Of no less importance is the fact that each user will have more control over what they want to show the world. And here is where the questions arise. How will brands adjust themselves to this new restructuring of Mark Zuckerberg's social network? Will they have to completely redesign their marketing strategies or simply let themselves be carried along by the new applications?
To begin to answer these questions it's useful to know that the new report system gives users the possibility of adding or removing information that they want on their Timelines. In tune with the rising tide of preoccupation over privacy, Zuckerberg himself has stated that each application, event or post will have its own levels of visibility and that it will be the users who will ultimately be the administrators of their content.
Brands: the visibility challenge
Faced with these transformations, a whole range of possibilities are opened up to companies with a Facebook presence. The new Timeline will show the story of the brand from the beginning. This means that companies who have been present on Facebook for longer will be able to show a more extensive story, thus giving themselves increased visibility and more business opportunities. In contrast, those who have started to use the social network more recently will have to face up to the challenge of producing new content.
Beyond their "seniority" on Facebook, all brands will have the challenge of winning- and keeping- the attention of a more autonomous user. Faced with the new option of taking down ( in the top right hand part of each post) content that users find boring, brands will have to make an effort to achieve the much sought after visibility that they seek. With the newly automated elimination of all the updates that each person evaluates as being unimportant, the objective for companies will be to produce interesting content that avoids being labelled as spam.
Now they don't like it (as much)
When asked by Mashable.com, David Berkowitz, the director of 360i summed it up by saying, "Before on Facebook it was about getting people to 'Like' the brand; now it's about getting people to take social actions that carry the name of the brand."
In this way the famous "I Like" button is going to lose value, especially in marketing and brand image terms. The demands of increasingly aware users will mean the shifting of attention towards more elaborate and interesting content. This change implies that gathering fans and likes will become less important than keeping users keen for more personalized content.
For the moment, Facebook has revealed that some of the big brands, such as Nike, Starbucks and Coca Cola will use the new platform in its beta phase. Meanwhile, marketing and advertising agencies have the opportunity to start taking notes on the substantial modifications that the biggest social network in the world is undergoing.
Alex Konanykhin is a Russian businessman and entrepreneur, expert in the world of online business. In 1997 he founded the successful interactive solutions studio KMGi, which was hailed by channels such as CNN as "The Future of Internet." He is also President of the online PR company Intuic, which specializes in helping companies boost their business through their online presence. At the end of 2011 he was hailed as' IT World Visionary 2011' by the prestigious magazine CIO América Latina.