Until recently, few people have asked the important question of Facebook’s new Timeline design: is the new page actually an improvement? Does the new design do anything to improve fan engagement with brands?
With a new study released last week indicating a serious increase in fan engagement with Facebook Timeline pages, the short answer is yes. But this wasn’t the case earlier this year, just a few months ago.
In January of 2012, AllFacebook.com’s Brian Carter wrote an article that reported the results of 4,000 brand pages tested for engagement. The result? Fans only saw 17 percent of posts from a page. Pretty dismal.
Furthermore, the study showed that from June 2011 to December 2011 the impressions per fan dropped from .99 to .41. What Carter’s article showed is that when 83 percent of a page’s fans do not see the brand’s posts, the cost of posting is six times what the brand actually spent. Having a fan you can’t get your message to is pretty much worthless.
So, brands were screaming for more engagement; Facebook’s design wasn’t working. And with certain brands stashing tens of millions of fans, Facebook needed to change.
This is the crux of the new Facebook Pages design; now, brands will have to learn Facebook Pages anew. Aside from being more visually appealing, the pages are more fun to browse and explore. The right side of the page shows interactions between the users’ friends and the product, which creates an immediate personal connection, and the right side features the content the brand wants their fans to see.
Brands can pin stories to the top of the page, add milestones in their company’s history, and star stories to make them larger in the Timeline. Additionally, because of the lost call to action for liking a page, brands have created a ton of clever ways to gather support, like interactive tabs and promotions.
In a study by Simply Measured in March, the company sought to analyze how the new pages design affected engagement in companies that adopted the style early on.
From 15 of the largest pages on Facebook, the company saw a 14% increase in fan engagement and a 46% increase in engagement per post.
These numbers are unbelievable when you think of how many fans brands like Coca-Cola and Walmart have and what the engagement was before the increase. Besides a few outliers, most brands increased their engagement significantly. The biggest winner: Livestrong, a brand that saw a 161% increase in less than a month with the new pages.
When you look at the Livestrong brand page, it’s not hard to see why they are experiencing such an increase in engagement. The company’s overall look is sleek and simple, and carries over to the design of each part of their page.
They use questions to get fans to interact with the page and spread the content, they post content that is well-designed, helpful and easily shared, and they respond to their fans feedback, whether it be criticism or praise. Other brands would do well to look to Livestrong when learning how to use Facebook, and how take advantage of new technology.
The change from the old pages will be tough for some brands. You can no longer create walls to content that disappear with a Like. But wouldn’t you trade that luxury for a fan base that reads the free advertisements you push everyday and shares it to all their friends?
The new Facebook Timeline Pages may be the push brands need to stop stressing over fan count and start paying attention to the most important insights statistic: Engagement.
** Daniel Levine contributed to writing this article.