Optimizing the Timeline Format for Page Engagement

Since the Facebook pages have changed to the timeline format, companies have seen, on average, an increase in post engagement (i.e. likes, clicks, shares, and comments). The increase is due mostly to an increase in user engagement on video and image posts, while engagement has decreased for text posts (not include and image, video, etc).

Mashable Facebook Timeline Eyetrack StudyIn response to the page format change, Mashable completed an eyetrack study to determine how consumer experience has changed. Consumers used to be focus the majority of their attention on the page’s news feed, both text and image posts. When viewing pages in timeline format, consumer attention is focused almost entirely on the visual elements, such as the cover photo, profile image, app thumbnails, and images. Content posts are usually the last items that consumers view.

The timeline format allows brands leverage the different features to enforce brand attributes, reach campaign goals, and increase call to action. There are six elements of the timeline format that brands should focus on optimizing :

  1. Cover image
  2. Profile image
  3. Views and apps
  4. Pinned posts
  5. Larger stories
  6. Highlighted posts

Leveraging the Power of the Cover Image

Facebook fans have the greatest response to images, so it is critical that brands focus on  optimizing their cover photos, as it makes up the majority of the page when fans first arrive. Below are several different ways in which brands can utilize the cover photo area, including examples of how companies have utilized the strategy:

Display Company Creativity & Innovation by Blending Profile Photo into the Cover Photo

BareMinerals Facebok Cover Photo Sprite Facebook Cover Photo

Visit “Building Brand Loyalty with an Integrated Social Media Strategy” to learn how Lowe’s blended their profile photo and cover image together to display their brand in a fun and create way.

Shows Customers in Image to Show the Importance of Customer Relationships to the Brand

Dove Facebook Cover Photo applebee's facebook cover photo

Display historical aspect of company

Walmart Facebook Cover Photo

Promote a call-to-action

iTunes Facebook Cover Photo Livestrong Facebook Cover Photo Spotify Facebook Cover Photo Old Navy Facebook Cover Photo

Brand Vs. Product Level pages

For companies who have both a brand level page and product level pages, they should focus on creating a connection between pages with the cover photo theme or style. Starbucks connects their pages together by using similar cover images:

starbucks facebook cover photo Starbucks Frappacino Facebook Cover Photo

Because attention is focused primarily on the cover image and user engagement is higher for pages with more images, it is important to update the image on a regular basis. To achieve a higher engagement level, no more than once per week but more frequently than every 2 months.

Since the page format change, profile images have expanded beyond an image of the company logo. Many brands are focusing on fun and innovative ways to represent their company in their profile picture.

Beyond the Text Post

The Facebook timeline format offers page owners different ways to categorize and display posts.

Milestone posts are great for adding a historical context to your brand, such as when the company was founded. Page owners can choose to “pin” a post, which keeps a post at the top of the page for 7 days. Pinned posts are ideal for marketing campaigns and timely info. To increase user engagement of pinned posts, they should include a visual element, such as a large image or a video. Highlighted posts expand the whole width of the page, providing visual support for branding, growing marketing campaigns, and increasing user interaction. Highlighted posts can be images, videos, or a combination, and they will appear in followers’ news feeds. Of the different types of posts, highlighted posts tend to have the highest level of engagement.

Streamline Views & Apps

Companies have the opportunity to feature three apps below their cover image. Each app includes a small image, which companies should try to visually connect with the cover image. Because only three apps can be featured, companies should choose the apps considered a top priority for branding or a campaign.

When formatting your Facebook page, focus on aligning all six elements of the timeline format with your brand message. Visual content dominates consumer focus, so make sure to increase your use of photos and videos, and refresh pinned posts, highlighted posts, cover images, apps & views on a regular basis. Apply the timeline features to your social media editorial calendar, such as marking posts that should be pinned or expanded into highlighted posts. Check out my blog “How to Bring Life to a Social Media Strategy” to learn about creating a social media editorial calendar.