Facebook's Timeline offers a summary of the user's FB life based on an algorithm that is in my experience, pretty reliable. Recent rumors suggest that brands may be getting their own Facebook Timelines as soon as the end of February. This unique platform would pose a number of challenges for a number of major brands, many of whom have invested a good deal of human and financial capital marketing on Facebook.
Many brands would not be thrilled with a summary of their most engaging or active periods on Facebook. Any brand that has faced a crises or two knows the veracity and volume of their community's outrage, as well as the minimal positive response from the community even when the brand engages the community in the conversation.
Facebook provides users with the ability to the filter or cleanse their timeilnes. But what about brands? Will brands have the ability to apply some makeup so their social black eyes?
The Marketer's Perspective
Marketers spend an incredible amount of time, effort and budget building their Facebook presences. Marketers have not only funded much of Facebook's growth and revenue through their ad dollars, but they have invested a good deal in creating meaningful engagement for Facebook's users on Facebook's platform.
To not provide brands with the ability to pick-and-choose Timeline content would be a slap in the face to these same marketers. These marketers have often engaged the community in good faith, making everything better over time. Highlighting these periods of negativity would be unfair to the broader historical story of the brand community.
The Community Perspective
Summarizing a brand's activity includes their community's activity. Allowing brands to whitewash their past gives them unfair and possibly an unethical advantages, and makes their Timelines less meaningful to users.
Three Possible Win-Win Solutions
- Feature the good alongside the bad and the bad alongside the good. Allow brands to selectively filter their Timelines to include the brand response and engagement with the crises.
- Allow brands to selectively purchase advertising within or alongside their Timelines that highlights their engagement related to a crises.
- Create two default views - one that is brand filtered and one that is filtered by community engagement. Brands will have the option of selecting their brand Timeline's default view, but users will always have the option to pivot to their preferred view.
I have a feeling that Facebook will go for the third option.