Facebook Timeline: The Best Story Telling Opportunity in Social Media

Many of you remember a previous post on this blog called:  Facebook Launches 60 New Applications for Timeline: What It Means for Users and Marketers.  In that post, I rip on Frictionless sharing apps.

It’s no secret that I’ve had friction with Facebook and that rarely in my history of writing about Facebook have I been complimentary.

  • I distrust Facebook because of their history of breaching our trust.
  • I think frictionless sharing apps are the worst idea on the web.
  • I think Facebook is a joke until they figure out how to make a decent search for their own site.
  • And I think that Facebook is far too noisy to be legitimately useful as content discovery platform.

However, I want to be clear that I am willing to give credit where it is due.

Credit is Due

While Facebook timeline is only different from a blog archive in its interface, this new profile is a social network game changer.  The concept of bringing together status updates, pictures, and significant life events, and presenting that information in a time-based format is revolutionary in the context of other social networks.  Again, while this feature has been available since the genesis of blogging, it wasn’t until Facebook—with its massive user-base and standardized format for everyone—did we see life-journaling presented in such a consistent and compelling way.

Whether we Twitter or Google+ fans want to admit it, Facebook is the dominant platform and for most people, the closest thing to a universal address book that we’ve ever seen.  Finding people from our past inevitably starts on Facebook.  When people from our past resurface, or new brands come into our lives, I believe Facebook provides us with the best opportunity to learn about people and brands.

My thoughts on using Facebook for Storytelling

The time-based format invites people to go back in time and explore the origins of a person or brand.  Unlike Wikipedia, this doesn’t need to be an Encyclopedia-like telling of history.  The story can be told in any way the profile or page owner chooses.  In my eyes, Timeline provides a way to share the full story, to reveal as much as possible to shape the person or company’s image.
There is a story to be told.
Cover Photo

Companies

  • the idea that got the company started
  • the founder(s), who he/she/they are, what they stand for, why they started the company, how they started the company
  • important milestones and turning points
  • the good times
  • the bad times

People

  • Significant Events from the day you were born
  • Old photos
  • Travels
  • Graduations
  • Birthdays
  • where you were for significant events
  • new friends
  • new pets
  • the good times
  • the bad times

All of these details help to tell a bigger story of who you are as a person, or the road your company travelled up until TODAY.  Timeline gives us the opportunity to let others walk in our shoes, and for us to walk in their shoes.

Cover Photos and Featured Posts

The Cover Photo and Profile Photo are your first impressions, make them count.  Do something creative, or something uniquely YOU.  I alternate my cover photo based upon what’s happening in my life.  It was my company logo for a while, wedding photos for a bit, and now it’s a thought bubble.

Timeline is very image-heavy, which is a good thing.  Beyond the Cover Photo, there are featured posts.

To me, featuring posts is essential to the format.  Statistically speaking, images are the most engaging post type and making the photos larger, in my opinion, looks much more interesting.  I’ve chosen, in my timeline, to feature every post I’m capable of featuring.  I’ve gone back and attempted to add photographs wherever possible…again, I think this makes the timeline viewing experience much more compelling.  As you scroll back through time, you can see each event as represented through images.  In addition to the image, be sure to include a story about that period in your life, or the history of the brand.

Jeff Gibbard

Tell your story

I recommend you set aside a few hours on a weekend and go back through your timeline.  It is an amazing story telling opportunity, I suggest you take advantage of it.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about “the Problems with Timeline.”