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Guest Post: Facebook Timeline - telling your Milestone story

Thank you to our guest blogger, Mike Forbes, who wrote this piece for howsocial.co.uk.  Mike works in social media at Tesco and you can read his orignal article here.

I’m taking a topical approach to this week’s blog, and discussing how businesses and brands can utilise the Milestones feature on Facebook’s recently introduced Timeline for Pages.

Facebook has been encouraging it’s users to “Get Timeline” for months now; and it’s been difficult to miss as they’ve been pushing it pretty hard. The migration for personal Profiles is still in the voluntary stage at the moment, but Timeline for Pages was activated for all businesses and brands on March 30th. Timeline brings with it many changes: the most obvious to Fans will be newly image heavy homepages; but others such as Brand/Business Pages now being able to send and receive Private Messages will probably sneak under the radar of most casual Facebook users (despite this possibly being a massive deal for Customer Care teams, and definitely a topic for a future blog). The new addition I’m going to focus on here though sits somewhere between those two; it doesn’t scream “look at me!” and demand attention like the new Timeline Cover photos, but it’s going to be of more interest to people casually browsing your page than the new “Message” button. I’m talking about Milestones.

Two brands demonstrating well thought-out (but very different) Timeline Milestone histories are Mercedes-Benz and Coca Cola.

Mercedes-Benz are very event-driven, using their Milestones to focus on noteworthy events in the company’s history. Some of the events they’ve detailed include:

  • An innovative Diesel engine patent in 1919
  • Rudolf Caracciola winning 1929′s 410-mile International Tourist Trophy race in a Mercedes-Benz SS.
  • An assembly plant in Brazil being opened by the nation’s President in 1956

All of their Milestones are events that they are proud of and also think will be of interest to Mercedes-Benz Fans.

Coca Cola focus on retro imagery and quotes showing individual Coke fans’ positive association with the Brand over the years. They forget all about company events and achievements, and make it about the people who are buying their products. See an example from Coca Cola’s Timeline below:

Milestone detailing positive brand association with Coca Cola

 

Something both companies’ Timeline Milestones have in common is the strong use of imagery, colours and video. Facebook gives you the option to create a multimedia history of your company that can be fun to browse, and which some of your Fans will hopefully find interesting enough to Share with their Facebook friends. Make the most of this tool, and don’t be lazy! A boring list of plain text Milestones (or even worse, no Milestones at all!) isn’t going to generate any more engagement with your Page. And after all, your Page is there to drive engagement isn’t it? …..isn’t it?? A list of Milestones that are of interest to your target audience can be a useful marketing tool.

Once you’ve populated your Timeline with Milestones, don’t just stop there and forget about it. You can plan in new Milestones as part of your regular engagement strategy. For instance, does your company have a designated charity you raise money for? If so, why not post a new Milestone every month talking about how much money you raised for your charity in a particular year?

1997

This year we were proud to reach our goal of raising £xxx for……

You get the idea, I’m sure there’s plenty of historic Milestones you could plan into your future content.

You never know who might be reading

Something else to consider when planning out your Milestone history is that it could become a primary place for potential new employees to research your company. How you act on Facebook, and the parts of your history you choose to emphasise as Milestones could attract or scare away potential new recruits. A lazily put together Timeline/Milestones could demonstrate a lack of openness to new ideas and technologies. And Milestones written in the wrong tone could also put people off. For example, a stuck up overly formal Milestone history could be reflective of the company’s working culture, and possibly not the image you want to convey.

How the way we use Milestones might develop in future?

With the amount of time people spend on Facebook constantly increasing, and with Facebook keen to minimize the reasons users have to leave their site, it’s quite feasible that your company’s Milestone history could grow to be used in a similar way as Wikipedia. A company history that has a much more friendly and engaging tone than the one on your company’s corporate website, but that can still be company controlled. It would also open the door to user generated Business/Brand Milestones.

A Facebook Timeline which allows Fans to contribute their own Milestones to a company’s Timeline could be an interesting prospect. I could share memories and stories for other Fans of the Brand/Business to enjoy. I could add a story about a memorable 1st date to Cineworld’s Timeline, a photo of me standing proudly beside my first car on Ford’s Timeline, or a photo of the 1966 World Cup Final I found in my Grandparents’ loft to Wembley Stadium’s Timeline.

Facebook currently has a near monopoly on cataloguing what you’re doing Right Now, Last Week, and even Last Year. If they successfully drive the Milestones aspect of Timeline, Facebook could soon be the place for storing all your pre-Facebook memories too. It won’t be quick, but watch out for Timeline becoming a visual diary, keeping all your stories alive. Want to see my baby photos? Or check the name of that restaurant I took you to last summer?

Check my Timeline.

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