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https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0001/8327/facebook-pages-for-business-packshot.png

Over the past few weeks I’ve been spending even more time than usual on Facebook, putting together a new update to our report: Facebook Pages for Business: A Best Practice Guide.  

It’s been a mammoth task, with Facebook in an almost constant state of flux over the past 12 months.

The Facebook Pages for Business guide contains over 80 new examples, and includes details on optimising the Timeline, guides to daily admin and tracking success, advice on creating and communicating with audiences, optimising your page to help with search and brand positioning, usage and demographic stats, and case studies of a variety of businesses, from niche B2Bs to global FMCGs. 

The report has been designed to take you through every aspect of Facebook, from clicking 'create a page' to advanced f-commerce and beyond.

It reflects the sheer scale of Facebook, and should help to counter all of the outdated information that's available, something I know from first hand experience to be incredibly frustrating. 

Just when you thought you’d mastered FBML, Facebook ditched the whole thing in favour of iFrames and HTML. Just when you'd finished creating that perfect landing page, Facebook removes your ability to set defaults.

And then there’s Timeline. Suddenly all those 'Like our page' banners are destined for the bin, and all those carefully designed arrows point in completely the wrong direction. All your iFrames and tabs are the wrong size, traffic to default pages cuts off completely...  

Thank goodness... 

Timeline may have initially seemed like a lot of work for businesses looking to set and forget Facebook campaigns, but it actually creates a far more personal, engaging user experience.

It encourages genuinely social engagement by brands and fans.

For years, we’ve been saying that social media is all about the conversation, while doing our best to get around that fact. Timeline means you haven’t really got a choice any more, and that’s a very good thing indeed. 

Currently operating somewhere north of the 900m users mark, changes to Facebook are always necessary, and it has become expert at rolling with the varying waves of disapproval that such changes cause.

For every new widget or repositioned sidebar, there’s a ‘Boycott Facebook’ campaign to match (which usually result in about 150 people leaving for a week). There’s no getting around the fact that Facebook is embedded into our daily lives.

It may not always be loveable, but it’s incredibly convenient and ubiquitous. 

For brands though, these changes have much larger effects.

Timeline allows businesses to add depth to their brand, and to accomplish that most fundamental of social media tasks: Telling a story

Now, I could use this post to give you another load of attractive Timeline examples (and I’m sure we’ll have an update to that post soon), but I thought it would be more useful to really home in on a single page and point out some of the ways a brand can engage its audience using the new Timeline features: specifically, apps and views.

Timeline Case Study: The Hunger Games. 

With such a massive built-in audience and a major media push behind it, it’s no surprise to see that The Hunger Games has over 4m fans on its page. What’s key here though, is how the page interacts with those users on a personal level. 

Let’s take a closer look: 

 https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0001/8295/hunger_cover-blog-full.jpg

First of all, there’s a very nice cover image. Although technically that ‘Buy Tickets Now’ slogan contravenes Facebook's regulations (but really, who’s checking?). There’s also a clearly branded profile picture.

However, as we’ve previously looked at examples of great Facebook Timelines, here I’d like to focus in on the page apps.

Now that you can no longer set a default landing page, optimising apps is incredibly important if you want the user to invest more time in your brand.

The Hunger Games page has clearly optimised cover images for each app, with clear, meaningful names for each one. It’s important to convey to the user what they are about to click on and why they’d want to:

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Need to buy movie tickets? Done. Want to download the Hunger Games game? It’s easy to find the format you want. Want to satisfy your inner geek with an ‘ID card’? Easy to find, easy to do and all encourages sharing. 

Let’s look at a couple of apps in more detail, starting with photos. Facebook has preset this as the first visible app on every page. You can’t change this, so you need to make sure it’s up to date and contains relevant images that encourage users to ‘Like’. The Hunger Games really go to work in this section:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0001/8297/photo_albums-blog-full.jpg Alongside the usual pictures of the stars, there are downloadable wallpapers and cover photos for fans to share, and lots of exclusive behind the scenes content.

This is really important, as fans will revisit the page if they can be sure they’ll see something unique. The cover photos and ‘Scholastic badges’ encourage fans to share, and there’s also rewards for the most engaged fans, with ‘district mayor’ profiles linked to an online competition. 

We also see lots of examples of the fans in action. Midnight movie premieres and cosplay events are highlighted, encouraging fans to tag themselves and their friends, spreading the movie’s message further afield. 

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0001/8296/hunger_photos_2-blog-full.jpg

By displaying the fans, the page gives something back to the community, but it also humanises the content. A lot of companies fail to realise the value of giving their brand a human face. The Hunger Games enables fans to feel that they are more than users, they are the brand. 

This is extended in an entirely separate app, the self-explanatory Fan of the Week:

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Here the page displays interviews with fans that have gone the extra mile, creating videos, art, clothes, and websites: anything related to the movie.

It would be easy for the franchise to take a negative view of this and attempt to police it (possibly not a great idea for a franchise set in a totalitarian future!), but instead they’ve embraced fan culture and given users a platform.

It’s all free content for the page and will continue to promote the brand long after the film’s theatrical run finishes. 

On the downside, it’s a little hard to see what a couple of these apps do, remember our point earlier about clear labelling. It’s difficult to tell what the #HungerGames apps do without clicking.

They’re actually tied into countdown and livestreaming events for the movie, with exclusive trailer videos and calls-to-action encouraging fans to grab a ticket:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0001/8304/_hunger-blog-half.jpg

 These are well designed but should have been removed or repackaged once the event was over.

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0001/8299/the_hunger_games_square-blog-third.pngWe’re also left in the dark as to what ‘The Square’ actually is.

This is a shame because it’s actually a very good piece of content.

Click the app and you are taken to a very stern landing page ‘commanding’ you to hit the ‘Like’ button(although it is missing an arrow pointing the way.

Since Facebook changed the button layout it is always worth keeping this in mind).  

Hit ‘Like’ and the page reveals a selection of content, designed to replicate a media broadcast for the fictional games.

A media ticker pushes out ‘realtime’ updates, fans can ‘like’ separate ‘District’ pages, there’s cosplay and makeup tips masquerading as futuristic adverts, and lots of calls-to-action, all focussed on creating an embedded community and sharing the brand both on and offline. 

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It’s a great landing page and accomplishes a lot of interaction without forcing the fans to leave Facebook. It’s just a shame it isn’t highlighted more effectively to start with. 

Overall this is a great page, encouraging sharing, providing value and encouraging a genuine community spirit, on and offline.

It’s nice to a brand think about the bigger picture as well. We’ve often encouraged businesses to use Facebook as a social media hub, linking their other campaigns together, and The Hunger Games manages this with aplomb. 

This is just one of more than 80 examples included in our latest Facebook for Business Best Practice Guide, and we’ll be covering more as we see them.

If you’re interested in using Facebook to promote your business (and let’s face it, you probably should be), you can download the full report here.

We'll also be running Facebook for brands training sessions In London on July 20th, and Manchester on September 7th, a complimentary course to this guide.

You'll be shown the practical elements to creating your Facebook Timeline and be equipped with the confidence to build your brands community, engineer campaigns and broaden your social media strategy.

Matt Owen

Published 1 May, 2012 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

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