Brands get nostalgic in updating to Facebook Timeline

March 30, 2012 | by Alicia Kelso

When Facebook first introduced its Timeline layout design in September, a majority of the 41,000-plus comments on the brand's page were complaints calling the now-mandated layout "bulky" and difficult to follow. The word "hate" was thrown around a lot, and people begged to keep their old profiles.

Still, Facebook continues to switch over its 800 million users to the new format, with today marked as the switch-over deadline. It seems as though fans are starting to get used to the change; however, of concern is new data from Vitrue that suggests brands could witness a decrease in engagement if they don't take full advantage of Timeline's features.

The data shows 52 percent of brands that initiated the switchover before today's deadline saw a reduction in engagement rate.

However, 27 percent saw greater than a 20 percent increase in engagement when implementing best practice for brand pages.

Vitrue defines best practices as having sharable content, improved visuals that take advantage of the new layout and prioritized content for brand milestones.

What is Timeline?

Facebook describes Timeline as a "new kind of profile that lets you highlight the photos, posts and life events that help you tell your story. When you get Timeline, you'll have 7 days to preview what's there now. This gives you a chance to add or hide whatever you want before anyone else sees it."

The biggest design change in Timeline comes with an added cover photo, which is positioned as a backdrop to the smaller profile photo. The maximum dimension of the cover image is 850 pixels by 315 pixels.

Additionally, Timelines feature larger photos throughout the pages, which, according to FohBoh, should be used to "help tell the story of your restaurant, your menu items, your restaurant culture and the experience one can expect when dining in your establishment."

Another benefit for brands comes with the "mission control" addition – where businesses can view insights, the admin panel and messaging.

In addition to Vitrue's tips, Econsultancy has also offered six suggestions for brands to have the most effective Facebook page with the Timeline components. They include:

  • Upload an eye-catching cover photo
  • Use a clearly branded profile picture
  • Add milestones to the page's Timeline
  • Pin a post a week
  • Arrange views and apps
  • Manage your page

Restaurant chains jump on board

Several restaurant chains switched over to Timeline before today's deadline, including Wendy's, Taco Bell, KFC, Subway and Arby's.

Those that updated their pages more recently include McDonald's, Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts and Carl's Jr./Hardee's.

There are still some outstanding brands without the updated page, which could be in the 7-day preview phase, such as Quiznos, Jack in the Box, Popeyes, White Castle, Cold Stone Creamery, Sbarro, Pizza Inn, Marco's Pizza and CiCi's.

Most of the active restaurant brands feature a signature menu item as their cover photo and for good reason – we eat with our eyes. Wendy's is touting its new Dave's Hot 'N Juicy cheeseburger line as its backdrop, while Arby's has its Reuben front and center.

Subway's cover photo highlights its Italian collection through a timely nod to the NCAA men's basketball tournament with the "Final Quattro," including the Italian BMT, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Pizziola Melt and Meatball Pepperoni Melt.

Dunkin' Donuts has a cover photo of bagels, with an inlay of its "fan of the week" to highlight its current promotion. Burger King went with its classic Whopper.

Most of the major pizza chains also feature food shots as their cover photos, including Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Papa Murphy's and Donatos.

Timeline sparks up nostalgia

The general setup of Facebook Timeline seems to have inspired some brands to embrace nostalgic themes on their pages.

KFC's Facebook design complements its current Chicken Pot Pie promotion, asking fans to submit "nostalgic" photos in celebration of the classic item. The brand's Facebook page includes a red 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, which will be given away as the grand prize in the photo contest.

McDonald's cover photo features what looks like one of the original units, including the iconic sign that says "hamburgers, we have sold over 1 million."

Whataburger's Timeline also features an old black and white photo of a restaurant, and In-N-Out Burger features a collage of photos, including some throwbacks.

Domino's Pizza sparked plenty of interest from its fans with its cover photo, of one of the first units in Ypsilanti, Mich., just outside of Ann Arbor where the brand is headquartered. The chain provided a history lesson in its response, saying that its first store was called "DomiNicks" and it became Domino's in 1965. The page also encourages fans to check out the Timeline section to see an image of the original DomiNicks.

Although it doesn't include nostalgic photos, Dairy Queen's Facebook page references the Timeline switch over and asks fans for their favorite DQ memories to celebrate the update. More than 200 responded within the first three hours of the post.

Taco Bell is also taking advantage of the new features – as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the chain is directing its 8.4 million fans to search its Timeline and "discover trends started in our 50 years of firsts." For example, in 2005, Taco Bell launched the Crunchwrap Supreme, which became one of its most successful launches in history.

Check out the Facebook Timeline introduction video here:

Read more about social media marketing.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Online / Mobile / Social , Operations Management , Trends / Statistics

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.
View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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