Let me start this post by saying this – If you’re not an individual or self-made entrepreneur looking to use ‘Timeline’ to take advantage of its killer marketing potential, do both of us a favor and just skip to the bottom to see the cool timeline designs – because I’d rather you ‘not’ hear what I’m about to say.
This post took me a lot of time, research, and brain-storming on how to REALLY take advantage of the new Facebook “Timeline” in terms of its best marketing uses for YOU. I don’t want to be sharing these ideas with just any ol’ lazy chump – I want to be certain we’re both on the same page. I’ve gotten a ton of business from referrals generated through facebook, and it’s proved itself as a GREAT marketing tool.
By now, you should be aware of the most recent change they’ve made to personal profiles. If you’re not, go and post a status update asking your friends what “Timeline” is.
I’m not here to explain it to you, but rather here to show you how it can HELP YOU. Here are the major items that will serve you best:
1. The HUGE header image at the top of the page. Can anyone say ad space?
Most people I’ve seen so far have been uploading pictures of their mini-dogs, yoga poses, and abstract artistic quotes you’d likely see after a girl just broke up with her boyfriend. While these are fun & all, this space could be MUCH better used to draw attention to your business or hobbies to help people avoid pigeon-holing you into a certain category [read: emo] (Kidding…kind of.)
Before I emphasize WHY this is so important, let me give you a few different examples of how individual entrepreneurs can take advantage of this space:
Photographers – This one should be pretty obvious. Showcase your best photograph representing your niche along with your URL. Maybe do a collection of a 100 of your favorite photos mixed into a collage?
DJs/Promoters – maybe flyers will come in horizontal format now, and you can showcase your next big event on your header image. Better yet, maybe you can create your own image with your upcoming event dates on it so people will know where they can bring their friends for a good time. Or maybe just a photo of you with your hands up facing a huge crowd, showing you can get the party going.
Graphic Designers – Using design that appears 3-dimensional is a great way to show off your skills, there are some examples down below that will spark some ideas for your own design.
Personal Trainers – Maybe a sequence of one of your clients showing their progress in a profile-shot set of 4 photos. Before/After style. Or maybe you just want to show off a photo of you standing on a bousuo ball…or maybe a shot of the last bootcamp class you did to show people actually came!
Real Estate Agents – Picture of you standing next to a house with a “sold” sign
Hair stylists – Photo of you with some bangin’ hair.
Clothing designers – close up photos of your fabrics, accessories, etc.
Limo Drivers – you squatting next to your Lincoln Town Car all “Import Mag” style. (Kidding…but you get the idea!)
So why is it so important to make sure to do this with your header image? Well, a recent study was done to record the progress & duration of someone’s visual patterns when looking at a Facebook profile. Here’s the results:
As you can see, the main profile image gains the most attention while job title & first post come in second. I’m guessing that with the new update, the attention patterns are going to look more like this:
Well, maybe so. But, am I going to take advantage of an opportunity to get my business more visibility in a stylish way? Hell yes.
And with the most recent mobile update to feature a timeline view, users have even LESS screen-space to work with, putting that much MORE attention on the actual header image.
And while the header image cannot directly link to an outside website, at least you can display a URL within the photo, as well as link as the description if someone were to click on it.
Now that you understand the importance of the header imagery, let’s move onto the second big item that will have an effect on your marketing:
2. Ability to “Feature” posts as Life Events which are more prominent when scrolling through a profile’s history. (Click on the star in top right of a post)
While this one may be a little more difficult to understand, let me try to demonstrate the importance by using some examples.
Photographers – When someone gets married, you can very well bet that they’ll be including that as a “life event” on their timeline. If they can use one of your images as the post that’s featured, that will serve as advertising for you years down the line. This photo isn’t going to be grouped together with the rest of the mobile uploads of the bride feet getting pedicured or the steak the groom grilled up back in summer of ’09. These photos are going to be the prominent photos that will stand out when clicking on the years & months on the column to the right (pictured above).
Event promoters – How about the New Year’s Eve party you’re going to throw in a week’s time? Have people “check in” to your event on facebook. NYE is usually one of the biggest nights of the year, and a lot of people consider it to be a *new start*. Try to capitalize on that by suggesting to feature it as the night they celebrated their best year yet.
Personal trainers – Beginning & end dates of a fitness program. Maybe someone wants to mark the date they decided they wanted to change their lifestyle for the better, and who helped them get there? YOU. Maybe you have them commit to a status update mentioning “Day 1″ of their 90 day fitness program to get the body they always wanted. They’ll be able to look back on that date with ease, and maybe their friends who want the same will see that post – along with you tagged with their friend.
Realtors – First home? ’Nuff said.
Not only can this “features” option help your clients market you to their friends, but also keep in mind that YOU should be utilizing it. Are there any big achievements or big dates that you would want your fan-base to be aware of when browsing your profile? Highlight it as a feature item and it will show up as the main photo or story for that month – as well as be included in the top stories from that particular year.
3. Ability to manipulate application positions
Notice the tabs on the right just below the header image? You can customize how those can appear in order of importance. While this change is often over-looked and not mentioned in “timeline” update articles, I think it’s yet another way to engage with your clients.
Photography and travel are both two things I want to have in common with my clients, so I’ve arranged my applications to display “photos” and “maps” first. You can also add independent and self-created applications to these tabs, and have them listed there for your clients to see as a main element on your page. Huge potential to engage your clients with not only a common interest, but to get them enrolled in your own application which you would be able to send them updates, information, etc.
In the entirety of it all, I think this new design is here for us to share freely and look back on our lives feeling nostalgia. You know when you smell a certain cologne or perfume, or maybe you hear a certain song that reminds you of someone/some time? We can now look back on our own personal history and see the conversations we were having, who we were hanging out with, what music we were listening to, and what movies we saw. Genuine memories in digital form.
It’s up to you if you want to help your clients in a big way, and think about this thing on a grand scale. As far as marketing is concerned – I think having this kind of mindset towards acceptance of change and new technology demonstrates your ability as a business to be forward-thinking. And those companies that are on the forefront of their industry are always regarded as the leaders – who would you rather buy from, an industry follower or pioneer? My instincts tell me that most of my clients are going to want someone who stays up-to-date and on the forefront of the technological frontier, and staying stagnant will only cause a disconnect when one of my clients is even more tech-savvy than myself.
If you got a lot out of this post, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below – but what I’d love EVEN MORE is for you to share this post with your friends on facebook.
Without further delay, here are a few creative facebook timeline covers that will give you some ideas on what to do for your own: (PS – when creating your own header image, keep in mind whether or not the thumbnail will make sense too. Not all of the examples below do)
Some cool examples that are self-promoting:
And here are some fun ones that play around with perspective a bit:
Probably my favorite design out of the bunch, this one actually looks 3D when using the right pair of glasses:
For a tutorial on how to make one of these creative covers, click here.
Click the button below to share with your friends: