APAC firms should localize for Facebook Timeline

With social networking platform switching Page to Timeline design on Mar. 30, social media experts share what Asia-Pacific brands can do to take advantage of new format which gives greater emphasis on content.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Brands in the Asia-Pacific should localize their content in preparation for Facebook Page when it migrates to the Timeline format on Friday, urge social media observers, who recommend changes businesses must note of before the switch.

According to Freda Kwok, lead consultant at social marketing company Blugrapes, Timeline features three major changes which companies need to take note of: cover photo, reduced tab visibility, and a bigger emphasis on content.

Brands in Asia-Pacific should take advantage on the heightened focus on content and localize their conversations with fans to build an interactive community, she added.

"Brands should always relate back to their target audience on social media," Kwok said. "While the global team may have assets, it's always good to assess what is relevant to local audiences, and use those to feature on your Timeline instead. Having an ongoing, engaged discussion on your Timeline on relevant matters is proof of a well developed Page."

Facebook first revealed the Timeline design last September, introducing a new format that allowed users to display "the story of your life" on a single page. Six months later, on Mar. 30, this format will be implemented on Pages, used by companies and brands to feature their products and services.


Facebook Timeline for Pages announcement

Willy Lim, co-founder of NetProfitQuest, noted that before Timeline, brands could lead non-fans to a specific landing page to request users to "Like" the brand before they were able to view the rest of the Page. With Timeline, Facebook users will be able to access such content without having to first "Like" the Page, Lim noted.

Kwok added that this change demonstrates a greater emphasis on content. Thus, engaging and relevant conversations will be an important feature to appeal to users, she said.

Optimizing cover photo
Another major change to the Page format is the cover photo, which is the first thing users see when they land on a Page. Kwok said brands should use this space to convey their brand personality and highlight key activities, she said.

"With Timeline, we are able to invite our fans to take a 'stroll' down memory lane with us to learn about the various milestones.

With more creative control over the new layout, we’re also exploring various engagement tactics to have our community co-create content with us that will be featured on our page, for example through the cover photo.

The ability to see what common friends are posting or talking about the brand on our page also means we're able to listen and engage better to what our fans and their network are saying."

--Gail Brennan
Head of Marketing
RIM, Singapore

However, she noted that Facebook has set guidelines to what brands can, and cannot, do with their cover photos such as including a call to action or urging users to Like the Page. Therefore, brands would need to be familiar with the guidelines before they tweak their Timeline cover photo.

"The main idea is to convey what your brand is about, and not be used as a sales or promotional tool," she added.

Lim added that the "huge cover photo" with a dimension of 851x315 pixels, and the profile picture with its 125x125 pixels dimension, would allow creative marketers to capture fans' attention. He added that brands should take note of the dimensions so that the cover photos can display effectively.

Elaborating on reduced tab visibility, he noted that brands would be limited to showing only four thumbnails--clicking through to apps--under the cover photo, compared to previously when they were able to share up to nine tabs in the sidebar.

However, companies can take advantage of this change by creating "eye-catching" thumbnails to strategically bring visibility to specific tabs, Lim suggested.

Kwok added that brands should customize application thumbnails to ensure traffic to their tabs would not be lost.

Photos play big role in Timeline
Kwok noted that while the posting process overall would remain similar with the switch to Timeline, companies now have the opportunity to determine which post they want to highlight. They can either pin a post which will be placed at the top for seven days, or "star" a post so that it will span across the page instead of showing up on either the left or right column of Timeline, she added.

"Photos will now play quite a big role. They're more visually appealing, help grab the attention of users, and are generally given more priority in a user's newsfeed," she said.

According to Lim, fans of a Page also would be able to interact with Page owners through private messages. He highlighted Singapore-based Resorts World Sentosa as a successful example of using the cover photo to encourage fans to interact directly with the integrated resort.


Resorts World Sentosa's Facebook Timeline
Credit: Resorts World Sentosa

Timeline can also benefit brands through viral marketing, as users can see who among their friends have also "Like" the page and can read their friends' posts that mention the brands.

As Timeline displays the Page's history on the right-hand side, Lim suggested that brands used this feature to tell a unique brand story.

Kwok added that milestones of the Page's history would provide a great way for companies to show their brand history.

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