Facebook Timeline: Creative Uses

 

For brands and individuals, Facebook Timeline is a superb opportunity to tell stories creatively and engage users. But how? Start at the beginning and work your way to the conclusion just as you would with a story.

Like an overpowering billboard, the 851 x 351 pixel Facebook Timeline cover picture is a golden opportunity when used effectively.  Remember, we handle 40,000,000 pieces of information every second, but only 40 of those make it to our conscious brains. Images top the list of easily assimilated information because they appeal to both our central and peripheral vision. The Facebook Timeline cover picture is a superb opportunity to say something about you or your brand. Be creative.

Consider too what content you need to develop or drag out from the archives. I’ve some useful tips for you below too.

There are rules which govern your use of the Facebook Timeline cover image:

  • This is not a space for commercial use;
  • Inviting your visitors to like your website, or tell your friends about your business is also not allowed;
  • Price or purchase locations are similarly prohibited;
  • Your business address and contact information is not welcomed here . . .

There’s no reason why you can’t use your timeline area to promote the benefits of your brand. Do change the image fairly frequently to keep your Facebook audience interested and engaged – Just don’t make it a daily occurence otherwise you’ll just end up annoying your friends/fans.

Think of the 851 x 351 pixel Facebook Timeline cover picture as a first impression to your brand’s overall image, a visual hello.

Here are the dimensions you also need to bear in mind:

  • Cover Picture – 850px x 315px
  • Profile Image – Scaled 125px x 125px (180px x 180px is the minimum image upload size.
  • Profile Photo Offsets – left 22px, top 92px

Tell your story

Use your Facebook Timeline to tell your story. Stories usually involve a chronological narrative – a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning is your ‘About’ page – keep it succinct and include any links to websites or contact details you want at this stage.

In terms of the narrative journey of your story the end is at some point in the future. This extended middle period is the opportunity to tell stories as part of your narrative – make sure the narrative is coherent and aligned to your brand message and values. There are rules about storytelling too:

  • Spelling and grammar – this puts it succinctly
  • Write for the web – people scan before they read, use the advantages the Timeline layout gives you, have enticing titles and images
  • Your content should be appropriate for your business, for your users, and for its context . . . make good content

What is good content?

Good content which is right for the business and right for the user will succeed – the two are indivisible. Without readers, viewers, and listeners, all content is meaningless, and content created without consideration for users’ needs harms publishers because ignored users leave. Its enlightened self interest: that which hurts your users hurts you.

Good content should be useful. To make your content useful, define a clear, specific purpose for it; evaluate it against this purpose. You have to know what your content is supposed to accomplish. Greater specificity produces better results. Consider the following possible purposes for a chunk of product-related content:

  • Sell products — Too vague, meaningless, and likely to produce buzzword-infested fluff
  • Sell this product — Selling a product is a process made up of numerous tasks, like discussing the benefits, mapping them to features, demonstrating the results and value, and asking people to buy it. If your goal is this vague, you have no idea which of these tasks (if any) the content will perform so are likely to get it wrong
  • List and demonstrate the benefits of this product — This is something a chunk of content can do. But if you don’t know who is supposed to benefit from the product, it’s difficult to be specific isn’t it?
  • Show how this product helps nurse practitioners — If you can discover what nurse practitioners need, you can create highly specific content that serves this purpose

Add Milestones

Make a virtue of the tools Facebook Timeline provides you. Milestones are a great way to tell your brand’s story in historical order.
Make note of any awards you’ve received, sales goals achieved, new campaign or product launches which may have been memorable.The Coca Cola example to the left is an example of a great use of the milestone feature.
Engage employees and fans to help identify milestones they feel were most important in your development. You might be pleasantly surprised by the insights. Review the results and any past content your brand has used, and integrate these as historical milestones.

Play with your Profile Picture

The profile picture is a good place for your company logo, but since the profile picture overlaps the cover photo, you will need to leave some blank space in the lower-left corner of your cover photo. So why not blend the two pictures?
If you’re after some inspiration, take a look at these examples.

Use Images to Tell Stories

You know the old adage – a picture tells a story which would take 1000 words – and it is true. Look at the images used in this article alone. With Facebook Timeline the opportunity is even greater. The album feature in Facebook Timeline posts to your page when you upload a picture or create an album. When you then post that album to your page, it tells the story in a different way again.

Emphasise: Pin or Highlight

Pinning a post to the top of your page will keep that post at the top of your timeline for 7 days.  If you’re running a business promotion or have a conversation that’s become extremely popular, pinning your post to the top is a super way to control the content on your timeline page.
Pinning is easy:
  • On your Facebook Timeline, choose the post you wish to pin to the top
  • Hover your mouse over the top right hand corner of the post and the pencil will appear with the options ‘edit’ or ‘remove’
  • Click to ‘enlarge image’
  • Click the pencil
  • The menu will now appear with the option to ‘Pin to Top’
  • Select Pin to Top

Highlights

Another Timeline option Facebook has enabled is the ability to ‘star’ or highlight posts. This gives posts preference in your timeline. A starred post will display across the full-page of your profile – a wide 403 pixels. Consider starring messages that have great images of your brand, or even you, to emphasize its importance to your audience.

Have Fun

Have fun with these basic steps and as you go along you’ll discover lots of new tweaks and features which you can start to implement. If you want to be truly creative you could have a quiz, with clues randomly planted on your Facebook Timeline and then link these off to a campaign website or landing page to ensure conversions and enable tracking of these . . . the options are endless. Remember, start at the beginning and build up from there.

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