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PR Pros Weigh In On Facebook Timeline for Brands

Yesterday’s Facebook Marketing Conference generated lots o’ news — a new Reach Generator and more data (real-time analytics are also coming), for example. AllFacebook has gathered up some reaction from the tech industry.

But clearly the item making the most waves among PR pros is Facebook Timeline for Brands. Our guest columnist for this week, Brandware Public Relations social media and digital manager Jared Degnan, offered up four reasons why marketers would love it. Now that Timeline has been made official, AllFacebook also offers seven things you need to know, and Mashable looks specifically at six things that will be critical for marketers, with their complete overview here.

Publicists, brands, and other communicators using Timeline will have to decide on the brand message they want to put front-and-center for Facebook fans and which images best convey that message. Moreover, the commitment to engaging on Facebook now requires more work and more interaction.

The Mashable article points out that some tabs are disappearing while other options, like setting a default page, prioritizing content, and using a cover photo, are opening up. Previously, brands used their Facebook pages to highlight limited-time promotions as much as for overall branding. But now, Timeline is making it necessary to lay out your messaging in a way that speaks to why this is a brand that consumers should want to follow and interact with, in addition to any special happenings or announcements, which can appear as a “pinned post.” (More advice about special promos here.)

Yesterday on Twitter, many people complimented the New York Times‘ Timeline, which opens with a big picture of the newsroom, outlines how the page is organized to showcase the depth and breadth of the outlet’s history, then proceeds to showcase the latest content.

On the Coca-Cola page, the logo and signature red catch the eye. The mission: “The Coca-Cola Facebook Page is a collection of your stories showing how people from around the world have helped make Coke into what it is today.” Scroll down and it’s less about pushing out Coke’s vision for the brand and more about how consumers see it, with stories told through images and text. (It actually looks a little Pinterest-y.)

PR pros are weighing in on the offering across the Internet. Cone Communications outlines, point by point, Timeline’s offerings and changes.

On ReadWriteWeb, Jonathan Rick from Levick Strategic Communications says, “If you’re using Facebook strategically, then this is a big deal: the new layout rewards creativity and innovation.”

On its blog, Edelman points out that while Timeline gives brands more “creative freedom,” it could pose reputational problems. “At a time where trust factors into purchase decisions, companies and brands will need to address their history – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is an immediate opportunity for savvy brands and companies to demonstrate the positive impact they’ve had on the world and further build loyalty and credibility with their customers,” it says.

Cohn & Wolfe points out that Timeline is more labor-intensive for marketers, and further blurs the lines between disciplines. “From my perspective, these changes to Facebook put marketers who understand earned media (traditionally PR and communications professionals) at the top of the strategy hierarchy. The reason is simple: the more emphasis a brand puts on long term relationship building with consumers and less on short term campaigns, the greater rewards they will see,” writes Tony Lederer.

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