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Brands must rethink the way they approach Facebook, post-Timeline

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Retailers and brands need to rethink the way they approach promoting their businesses on Facebook, following the social network’s introduction of the new Timeline for all brands..

That’s the message from social media marketing technology company Wildfire, which studied the way brands use Facebook and engage with their fans, before and after they moved to Timeline. The Timeline was made mandatory for brands on March 30 and brought with it changes including a new cover photo, private messaging, brand milestones and highlighted important posts.

Wildfire studied the effect of the Timeline on 67 brands who adopted it in a study that ran from four weeks before launch to five weeks afterwards. They included 43 that adopted it the first day it was announced, on February 29, and 24 that adopted it on or by March 7. The brands had from 22,000 to more than 40m fans.

The company found that rates of fan growth slowed slightly after Timeline was launched, and brands with more than 1m fans saw a greater slowing. Comments on posts also fell by 7.41%, something that Wildfire believes is because so much space on Timeline is taken up by pictures and videos. However photographs gained more comments, becoming 21% more likely to be commented on after the introduction of Timeline than before.

After Timeline, photos made up 35% of all posts but drew 56% of all comments. Videos are now shared 90% more than photographs, the next shared type of item.

Rebecca Quinn, director, European strategy and operations at Wildfire, said: “I think what we really took away from the research was that it’s going to become much more about understanding and optimising the type of engagement that you leverage.

“I think that what we’ve seen is, pre-timeline a lot of fans were able to drive a lot of engagement through comments. In the transition what we’ve seen is because there’s a greater, more significant focus on providing really beautiful access to imagery, and clear access to video content and commentary space has been limited, brands are going to have to be smart about their ability to engage with photos and video content.”

Wildfire’s top tips for brands on Facebook’s Timeline

Use visually arresting graphics that lead to a landing page

A study found custom apps, such as contests, saw traffic raise by 107% following the introduction of Timeline.

Pin photos

Pinned photo posts outperform regular photo posts on likes by 44% and shares by 63% because they stay up longer.

Use highlighted posts thoughtfully

One brand featured an AOL post that it knew would generate interest from its fans. It generated thousands of likes, comments and shares and was by far its most engaging post over the past month.

Have a steady stream of relevant and engaging promotions

Many of the top performing brands Wildfire studied ran sweepstakes and contests frequently.

Give your users a reason to engage continuously

Mix in customer apps with relevant content that gets your posts in their and their friends’ newsfeeds.

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