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Facebook Timeline: The Branding Era

There's been quite a bit of chatter about Facebook's latest update lately. Perhaps you recall our own Jeremy Hagen lending his voice to the debate. March 30th is the official migration date for all 'Page' users to Timeline. Folks managing brand pages have circled the date.

The original Facebook was never designed with brands in mind. In fact, Pages and Applications only came about in 2008 and 2009. Pages were stale and forced, while Applications were just plain annoying. Facebook created its own dictionary of terms that changed just as soon as a brand thought they understood. They don't even offer support or assistance over the phone.

Here's a huge warning: Don't be fooled by the fancy new layout. There's more to Timeline than a Cover Picture. Brands that neglect to check out Timeline's features, or more importantly take advantage of the preview feature, will most assuredly crash and burn in the transition.

To me, Timeline is a much bigger opportunity for brands than Facebook 6.0 and 7.0 ever were. This time, brands get to tell their story from start to finish with much more control.

Take Coca-Cola for example. Not only are they filling their page with the brand's legacy, they're encouraging followers to contribute. They have promotions and coupons in their Application bar too; who doesn't love free Coke? And here's one better: they've got videos and branded entertainment front and center.

Coca Cola

The brands doing well on Timeline have edited themselves and created a story worth telling: Coke is sharing smile stories, Livestrong is sharing inspiration and survival stories, and Barack Obama's 2012 Presidential campaign is sharing support stories. Every single post suits the brand and fits into a larger picture. There was some serious strategy at work.

New features like Highlights, which populates top stories, Starring, or featuring stories, and the new Application bar, are really changing the way brands can use Facebook. So think about it. Don't just change your cover photo and call it a day.