Facebook Timeline Does / Does Not Improve Engagement

In February of 2012, Facebook made Timeline mandatory for all business pages.  The business community became very upset.  Before Timeline, companies were able to specify what visitors to their page would see – their “Landing Tab”.  Once Timeline became a reality, every visitor to your Facebook Page was greeted with the Timeline.  Businesses could no longer control the content seen by their fans.  Businesses felt that using Timeline would result in a loss in engagement.

So, did it happen?

There is no clear answer, as of yet.

In March, Simply Measured conducted a study indicated that brands were getting an average of 46% more engagement with the new Timeline.  Great, except that they only looked at 15 Facebook brand pages.  And these were some major brands, including Livestrong, Toyota, Red Bull, Sears, Walmart, Ford, and Old Spice.  There wasn’t a single small business in the mix.  In their study, they found an average increase of 46% for engagement per post and an average increase in fan engagement overall of 14%.

Did engagement rise?  Maybe.  But what about the use of the new “apps” within Facebook, which replaced the custom tabs we were all accustomed to?

In July, PageLever provided Mashable data indicated that tab engagement had dropped off 53% since brand pages began adopting the new Timeline.  And this was after looking at approximately 500 fan pages with over 10,000 fans each.  So, why this sudden drop-off?  According to PageLever, it was due to 2 factors:  1.  Brands can no longer set a custom landing tab; and 2. Tabs are less visible in the new timeline layout.

So, is page engagement down?

Not according to a new study, just released by ShortStack, a self-service Facebook app platform, which indicates that fan engagement is nearly back to its pre-Timeline level.  This time, ShortStack looked at over 30,000 Facebook pages with over 400 million Likes, and noticed that even though engagement numbers had lowered during March and April, they were beginning to rise, and were meeting levels attained before the switch to Timeline.

Why?  One can only guess, and mine is simple.  We are becoming more comfortable with Timeline, and are more able to interact with brands pages now that time has passed.

What do you think?  Are you seeing more or less engagement on your Facebook pages?  What about with your custom apps?  Have you abandoned them?  Will you try again?  Let’s discuss it in the comments, below.

Sources:

About Craig Yaris

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you. He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line. EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business. Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107 .

Comments

  1. Alison Gilbert says:

    Craig,
    As usual you and I are right in sync. I have been doing my own, yet to be published, study on timelines. Although it is from a different perspective, I have found it to be both fascinating and shocking.

    My study has been based upon the visual aspect of the new ‘timelines for business’ or the page covers in particular. At this point, I have studied hundreds of pages. My system of evaluation is based upon a point system where each company is rated a ‘plus’ for following or a ‘minus’ not following the facebook guidelines, good branding/design tenets and other expert suggestions.

    These are my general conclusions:
    • Most small businesses and some larger ones have no clue what the guidelines are, what branding is and even what a logo is.
    • In this area, the deck was clearly ‘stacked’ in favor of the large corporations and companies that have a presence on facebook, which is just about everyone by now. I find it rather telling that when facebook announced the new ‘timelines’ and their March 30th deadline for businesses, that large corporations already had their’s done. They were showcased on various blogposts as the way to do them.
    • These large corporate ‘timelines for business’ page covers are seamless. Some of them are even branding masterpieces. With the resources to create them due to an internal marketing/design department or the capital to hire one for this job, they inevitably score A+ in my evaluation.
    • On the other hand, those of small businesses all too often, fall short of the mark. Some are not bad, but way too many have minor to major infractions. Is it because the companies do not care? Is it because they do not have the resources or know how to design a page cover correctly? And Is it because they do not even have the time to learn about the guidelines.
    • I believe it is because they have neither the resources to do it properly nor the time to learn what is expected of them by facebook. Many do not even have cover photos yet.

    The bigger picture issue to me is, why did facebook do this? Clearly they know what they are doing as they continue to change the dimensions of certain aspects of the page covers. Without constant vigilance to this topic, one can barely keep up.

    A small company that can barely keep its head above water doing just what it has to do to generate income cannot keep up with this whimsical erstwhile technically challenging task facebook has set upon them. Has this affected page views, rankings, etc.? That I do not know for others. It has sure gotten my attention.

    I have written numerous blog posts to assist the small companies and messaged each one whose page cover I have viewed. Most viewers don’t seem to notice the or care about the mistakes. They still ‘LIKE’ the pages.
    Meanwhile I am on a mission to even the score, educate and assist these companies in creating top notch page covers. My goal is to accomplish the following:
    • To see that they are well designed and consistent with their brands
    • To make sure they are compliant with facebook guidelines

    How am I doing with my goal? How is the project coming along? Simply put, I have a long road ahead of me with very little awareness by these companies of the seriousness of the situation.

    At any time and without warning, facebook can ‘yank’ a company’s page ‘act’ ‘off the stage’. We all agree to their having the right to do this when we agree to ‘their terms and conditions’.

    I love the new ‘timelines for business pages’ and the opportunity to reintroduce graphic design and branding into the picture. I hate website. But I have to say that unfortunately, this situation is one argument enforcing the fragility of facebook page participation and one that favors website ‘wear with all’ for a company’s control over its own marketing destiny.

    • Wow. Thanks for that great analysis, Alison.

      You are correct on many fronts, and I agree that it isn’t lack of interest on the small business owners part, but lack of time and money that causes them to not pay the attention that they should to this.

      Facebook is still the great unknown for many small businesses, and they are “keeping their heads above water”. But just barely.

      Good luck with your “study”. Hopefully it will convince people to take a second look.

      Craig

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