Recently, Facebook rolled out a completely new interface for user profiles called the Timeline. Not all users have been switched from their tried and true profiles as of yet because Timeline is still in its beta stage, but since most real estate agents in today’s market are using Facebook as a way to enhance their marketing strategy (and if they’re not, they should be) it’s probably a good idea to get acquainted with Timeline before it becomes mainstream on October 18th. I was able to implement the beta version on my own profile and I can tell you that personally, I love it.
The look and feel of the user profile is completely different with Timeline. What used to be a blocky, text-heavy profile is now a continuous stream of pictures and information, going back as far as when you were born! (Or, as far back as when you joined Facebook, if your page represents your real estate business and not you personally.) And, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, you will have full control over what is and what isn’t on your Timeline. You and you alone will have free reign over what people do and don’t see on your page.
Timeline’s addition of more visual elements will only help Facebook users. It’s been proven time and time again that most people engage better with content if it has pictures. (This probably explains why I’ve spent countless hours scrolling through pictures of my Facebook friends.) While the top of your page used to have one relatively small profile picture next to a chunk of textual information, the Timeline profile shows a large, high-resolution picture across the top of your whole page with your profile photo in the corner. It creates a sleeker, more professional appearance right off the bat. And then, when you scroll down, your Facebook activity is divided into two neat columns. On the left is where you can update your status, post a photo, or anything you used to do with Facebook. The change, though, is that you can also click on new icons (Work and Education, Family and Relationships, Living, Health and Wellness, and Milestones and Experiences) in this space to add major life events to your profile. It almost acts like an online scrapbook. (For example: Facebook already “knew” I got married in 2009, but Facebook didn’t “know” that I had ACL reconstruction surgery last month. I was able to add that to my Timeline for the folks who didn’t know that I went through that. I can also later add when I have my first child!)
Another notable change is the additions to the “Like” feature. Now, Facebook users will be able to do more “verbs” on Facebook than just “liking” certain posts. This will expand and more accurately represent engagement on Facebook pages. Users will be able to “Read” books, “Visit” parks, “Watch” movies, “Listen” to music, and so on, instead of simply just “Liking” them.
While Timeline is a great social tool, it can be great for business marketing as well. For real estate agents, Timeline easily allows agents to brand themselves because of the way pages have been redesigned – bigger, better pictures and more comprehensive text. By repositioning the look of the profile page, Facebook has made it easier than ever to create a streamlined-looking profile that visually depicts the story of your life (or, in this case, business.)
The one caveat to the Timeline, however, is that it takes a bit of time to get used to. While previous changes to Facebook have been “relatively” small (depending on whom you ask) this a complete profile overhaul. I will suggest dedicating an hour or two of just playing with the interface to get used to it. Though Facebook offers up a quick tour of the page, the best way to get acquainted with it is to just start clicking around. Once you get used to it, it makes sense. But that initial change is a bit brutal.
All in all, I think Facebook’s Timeline is going to be a big hit. That said, It remains to be seen whether business pages and personal profiles on Facebook will implement Timeline in an identical way. There may be small differences that span the two. We will just have to wait and see on October 18th, which is just around the corner! As with any major social networking or website overhaul, Facebook will undoubtedly be making more tweaks after the implementation of Timeline. We’ll be sure to blog more about these changes and what they mean for you — stay tuned!