Big or small, businesses are lining up to jump onto the social media band wagon hoping one platform, if not all, will increase their sales and contribute to their branding efforts. Fewer businesses, however, seem to be on top of their own social media marketing efforts, having a very vague idea of how to effectively use the platforms they’re focusing on.

Facebook is one of, if not the, favourite social media platform for businesses. It’s also the platform where clueless businesses have the least odds of getting away with winging their marketing. Among the components that are a dead give-away is the timeline. So what’s it for and how can you make the most of it?

Just what it sounds like

Considering the fact that the name is pretty self-explanatory, it’s surprising how many brands don’t use it like a timeline. The most basic approach is to highlight your brand’s evolution by posting key events along the timeline. More complex strategies consist of using the timeline to show shifts in company culture, rebrandings or, even better, using the functionality as a framework for a storytelling exercise.

Depending on the complexity of your approach, you can go from telling your brand’s story through the clever use of progressively older-looking images, even going so far as to include slight alterations in the brand’s vocabulary to highlight the decade, to a gamification approach that uses the scroll functionality much like a rudimentary parallax feature to help the audience discover your brand as they go through the timeline.

So why go through all this trouble? First, because your timelime is your brand’s home away from home on Facebook. Using it to its full potential will make it recognizable to your audience, not to mention that keeping them engaged on the timeline is exactly what you’re spending all that money boosting posts for. This exercise is particularly important for new pages, as creating an interesting timeline before publishing the page gives the audience a complete overview of your brand so they can quickly decide if and how they want to interact with it.

Build as you go

While it’s important to publish a Facebook timeline that’s been completed and branded to some degree, you shouldn’t shy away from building on your branding effort all through your Facebook activity.

Let’s say you’re managing the page of a brand that’s been around for 30 years and you had precious little to build the timeline with when you were initially handed the page. Recently, you managed to get your hands on some really neat photos from office openings that go back 15 years. You can create a single Facebook album and throw them all in there or you can do one better and milk them for all they’re worth through multiple posts.

A single photo album offers engagement from your followers for a short period of time, while grouping the photos according to locations and backdating your posts will multiply that engagement by as many albums as you can make. The trick to not becoming a nuisance for your followers is to put the exercise in a fun context, like Blast from the past week/ Monday,  where you periodically backdate said albums and remind followers the long tradition your business has.

Why do it? Simple. Because branding efforts don’t end when you publish your page, quite the contrary. Backdating posts can help you engage followers through created content, regardless of when it was actually created. What’s more, you can always go even further and turn your branding efforts into a Facebook treasure hunt through the brand’s timeline.

Teach an old page new tricks

Facebook isn’t a platform that stands still for very long, when it comes to features and functionality. In fact, it’s constantly testing and launching new features. So what happens to your timeline when features you were relying on get dumped and new ones pop up? Adapt.

Let’s take the case of the highlight feature. A while back, Facebook allowed you to showcase more important updates by making the post larger than the rest, through the highlight feature. This particular feature has since been removed but that doesn’t mean you can’t use existing features to achieve the same goal, namely assign the post as either an event or a milestone. Granted, you’ll have to be much more discerning in what you consider to be a milestone and, for your fans, that can only be a good thing.

So what happens when Facebook hands you a nice, new feature you’d like to fiddle with throughout the timeline? Going back to the secret stash of old photos I was talking about before, you could easily create a photo carousel rather than a run of the mill album. And if you’ve already posted them? Go back through your timeline and pick key events, select 2-3 images from each, build your carousel and repost them as an alternative to the Share memory feature.

The Bottom Line

The level of engagement your Facebook timeline can nurture and the strength of your brand’s presence on the platform is only limited by how creatively you use the tools that you’re given. Just because a feature is intended to behave in a certain way, that doesn’t mean you have to limit your actions to whatever it was built to do. Remember that these functionalities are all tools, tools that you can use to build whatever experience allows you to reach your goals on social media so be brave and experiment wisely.

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