Brands need to learn to “close the viral loop” to encourage users to share their content, according to Facebook director of platform partnerships Christian Hernandez.

Speaking at TNW 2012 in Amsterdam, Hernandez said that, in order to properly make use of Facebook’s 500m daily users, brands must make sharing content easier.

And the way to do this is to build apps for Facebook timelines.

According to Hernandez:

Most people see us simply as driving social traffic, but don’t stop there. You need to think about the new user coming in and how they share your content with friends. When they use your app, invite them to share their identity and share the app with their friends. It then becomes a closed loop.

Hernandez flagged up Pinterest, The Guardian and JustGiving as examples of brands that had already seen the benefits of timeline apps.

The Guardian app has 5.7m monthly active users and social now matches search as a traffic source.  

Similarly, JustGiving’s timeline app generates £5 for each Facebook share and in March a quarter of donations came through Facebook. 

By 2015 it is predicted that more than half of JustGiving donations will come through Facebook.

Hernandez also suggested that brands need to stop thinking about mobile and desktop as two entirely distinct entities and create apps that fit both platforms.

We have 480m monthly users on mobile. The link to timeline apps exists on mobile as well, and we are driving massive distribution for our partners.

However Hernandez admitted that an app alone won’t create user engagement. He said that brands must understand that their content will appear on timelines alongside family photos, so it is important to create content that is personal to the user.

Also think about how you’re going to react when people talk to you. Think about the content but also the interactions after and how you are going to respond.

Hernandez’s talk, which at times came across as a sales pitch, was on message with Facebook’s current push to get brands to make use of timeline.