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Facebook’s new Timeline format doesn’t officially go live for brand pages until March 30th, but there’s always a few who can’t wait to try new things out. In fact, 8m have already made the switch.
Timeline marks a fundamentally different approach to marketing on Facebook for many brands, with more emphasis on images and genuine engagement on the wall.
We asked our Facebook fans and Twitter followers to help us highlight some of the best examples of cover photos, milestones, and general best practice we could find.
We've limited this list to major companies in a variety of sectors, but it would be great to hear about smaller businesses connecting with customers via Timeline - so feel free to highlight any others in the comments.
Coca-Cola group is no stranger to Facebook (more on its main page later in the list), and its page for Fanta is no exception - starting things off with a big, bright image that also promotes the current advertising campaign.
By promoting the campaign, the page also encourages fans arriving on the Timeline to “like” the page subtly, being sure to avoid Facebook’s stringent new rules about this.
Fanta also has one of the best examples of custom app images –something many brands haven’t yet attempted – with clear, colourful graphics and some nice engagement tactics, encouraging fans to play games, spread the word and generally become more socially embedded.
One slightly odd feature here is Fanta’s choice to promote multiple language content through a single page, rather than localising more effectively - but again, it’s big, bright and engaging. Even if you have no idea what a ‘Boton Irresistable’ actually is…
2. NY Times
The NY Times could have chosen a slightly clearer cover pic, but its choice really highlights the feeling of an internal family of workers, putting a crucial human face on things.
The NYT also scores well for its Timeline content, which stretches all the way back to the 1800s and is crammed full of some amazing photography and important stories that really push the paper’s heritage.
Timeline is great for promoting images, so it would be remiss not to include at least one fashion brand on this list.
Burberry was one of the first brands to switch, having been allowed to prepare for launch by Facebook. As such, it's been getting a lot of love on its page because of it.
Simple, stylish images welcome you to the page, while the Timeline highlights some fascinating examples of classic advertising through the years.
This classic outerwear ad with its images of the golden age of air travel was one of our favourites:
So far, Burberry doesn't have many apps, but the ones it does are well thought out - with special props going to the video-heavy ‘Acoustic’ app that features a variety of folksy tunes for fans to get their eardrums into.
4. Captain Morgan USA
Everyone loves pirates, so there was no way we could leave The Captain out.
Especially since the rum-drenched US Facebook page contains over 200 years worth of ridiculous images of buccaneering and high-seas hijinks.
As well as some great custom content on the Timeline, Captain Morgan also has great app offerings.
We particularly liked the ‘Rumpedia’, which collects existing and fan-made cocktail recipes for you to try at home (Please buckle your swash in a responsible manner). It’s a nice way to collate and promote user-generated content and encourage sharing.
There’s also some nice video content, though much like many other brands, the page doesn’t yet take full advantage of Facebook’s new larger format pages.
Even those of us that have grabbed a day-old footlong on the way home after a night out would be hard pressed to guess the rich history of sandwich supremo Subway.
With a Timeline packed with great images (that’s the first use of the name ‘Subway’ below), its page concentrates on the growth of the company, and really backs up the ‘every sandwich tells a story’ tagline.
Apps promote offers, allow you to build your dream sub (and who doesn’t have one of those?), give gifts and more.
Given Starbucks' truly huge presence on Facebook, it would be surprising if it hadn’t done something worth checking out - and the new page doesn’t disappoint.
While the cover is all about the coffee itself, the page includes local content and reflects the intimacy of having a coffee with friends.
Updates are heavy on visuals, with regular pictures from local branches:
There's also a local store finder, a map crammed with locations (who knew that there were more branches in London than New York?), individual pages by country - and even an app letting would-be baristas search for local jobs.
Overall, the page is a fantastic example of a global company tapping into localised marketing.
Packed full of images and offers, Macy’s has done a great job with its apps.
The catalogue pages really pop, while the gift registry is convenient and has viral potential for engaged couples keen to share their upcoming nuptials with all and sundry (and hopefully get a free toaster or two in the process).
We were also impressed by the Twitter tab, as we're a strong believer in the ‘don’t cross the streams’ theory within Facebook.
Here it’s done well, showing off what’s happening without mass-spamming fan's walls.
Macy's clearly put Facebook at the heart of its social strategy, with links to useful features and seamless tie-ins to other channels.
8. Ford Motors
Although the cover picture of the company's headquarters might be a little dry, Ford excels by having great content on display that explores the company history from Model T to supercharged GT500.
There are some lovely archive pics included as well, which shows off Ford’s lengthy racing history and acts as a rich source of wallpaper material for fans.
Plus, there’s a nice selection of badges for owners to declare their allegiance to Mustang, Mondeo or Escort.
Ford's individual product pages really deserve the majority of the kudos here though, with Mustang’s design and battle app a particular favourite:
Who wouldn’t want to crash headlong into their friend's new car?
Well, no, me neither, but it’s still fun and helps encourage interaction while drawing the user into a deeper social experience.
We mentioned Coke earlier on, but it's worth looking at the soft drink’s main page.
A clear cover image and instantly recognisable product as a profile picture helps create something engaging, as does Coke’s willingness to interact with its community.
There are apps sharing personal experiences and messages of happy coke-fuelled times, smiling polar bears aplenty, and an easy way to share a bottle of carbonated vegetable stuff with your nearest or dearest.
Everything is designed for maximum feel good factor, not to mention yet another rich company history including some truly iconic advertising (take a bow Santa).
10. Old Spice
Unsurprisingly, Old Spice takes a slightly surreal and very funny angle to its Timeline design.
Apps allows you to pit Fabio and Isaiah Mustafa against each other, watch videos about bears with 'B.O.', and in one of the few examples of f-commerce we’ve seen within the Timeline - even buy a horse-themed t-shirt.
The Timeline itself is a wonderfully weird journey through an imaginary brand history, featuring one-eyed big cats, fighter jets, space travel and other equally ludicrous ‘manly’ pursuits.
It's thoroughly entertaining, and every piece of content is designed to be as viral as possible.
By the end of the month, every page will be using the new Timeline format - so make sure you're prepared for the change.
As mentioned earlier, there are around 8m brand pages that have already switched, so we've probably missed some sterling work. Let us know about any other great examples you've seen in the comments below.