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Five ways the new Facebook Timeline will impact brands

As Facebook continues to roll out its timeline, Karen Hawey, consultant at digital management consultancy Reform highlights five reasons brands will be impacted by the feature through the world's largest social networking platform.

Facebook has had a makeover – or more specifically, it’s arranged a makeover for brand and business pages. Brand pages now get the same Timeline view that personal pages have, with the ‘widescreen’ image at the top, the updated approach to new posts and the improved interaction.

All well and good – at least for those people who like the new design –but it’s the features behind the scenes that are really going to make the difference. In fact, as part of its efforts to make itself more business- (and thus revenue-) friendly ahead of its much-publicised IPO, Facebook has drastically changed the way that brands and customers will interact online:

It’s getting personal

Firstly, specific country and location targeting has been made available and this can be done across all page content or on each separate post. Geo-targeting, which has already proven so valuable for e-commerce platforms and services like Foursquare,is set to improve engagement dramatically. For example, a brand can now send out a Facebook promotion relating a specific store to just the people who live in that area.

It also means thatcultural differences can be taken into account – Facebook promotions are no longer one size fits all but can be spilt up by region. It just adds that extra level of personalisation.

Moderation is key

One of the most important changes affects brands whose Facebook pages have been taken over by complaints and negative comments. Those brands can now blacklist certain keywords. So, if someone posts on a brand’s timeline and it includes one of their blacklisted keywords, it will be marked as spam and thus won’t be shown.

The possibilities of this are incredible – it’s entirely possible that under this new system no one will ever see a bad word said about a brand on Facebook! Brands can also now view which posts have been marked as spam and uncheck them if they do want them to be shown. So, it seems it would be in most brands’ best interests to be safe rather than sorry and create an extensive blacklist – they can uncheck comments that are accidentally negative and leave the deliberately negative ones off their page.

Customer service will now be out of the public view

Brands can now contact the people who have liked their pages through direct messages and vice versa. This could mean that Facebook email will become the new help centre for a brand as there will be no need to refer customer queries elsewhere. What better way to promote your satisfied customers but on a social networking site?

However, brands are going to need to be careful not to send too many direct messages as this could alienate customers. No customer wants to be deluged by messages from a brand even if they do ‘like’ it.

Constant management,strong>

Page owners now have access to an admin panel: a dashboard where they can see new likes, notifications, direct messages and who’s engaging with their page. This quick overview will allow users to see immediately what’s working well and which posts are picking up.

This will require constant management – after all, the Facebook page is a showcase for the brand so it needs to reflect the company and have as much updated, relevant and engaging content as possible.

Brands are going to need to get creative

Facebook is now an even more visually-led platform, so brands are going to need to work hard to get noticed. A brand that can figure out how to do something quirkywith its page will get a huge amount of publicity. Digital agencies everywhere need to get their thinking caps on and work out how to get their clients to make the biggest impact.

Facebook is already a key channel. With these changes in place, it’s set to become an even more fertile commercial environment for brands that understand it and use it effectively.

Image provided by Shutterstock

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