Ready or not, at 3 p.m. March 30, every brand on Facebook will be forced to switch its fan page to the new Timeline format, which replaces users' history and tabs with a more visual presentation of their brand from inception to the present.
With Facebook announcing the change just over a month ago, brands haven't had much time to get ready, much less opt out. But some publishers are using it to increase awareness of their brands nonetheless.
Hearst Magazines titles will fill out their timelines with facts and covers from the brands' history. “The cool thing is that it takes our magazines back to when they launched,” said Brian Madden, director of audience development and social media for Hearst Digital Media. In the process, staffers uncovered facts about their brands that they didn’t know before—like the fact that Good Housekeeping banned cigarette ads in 1952, long before the rest of the publishing industry wised up to tobacco’s health risks.
Madden said he saw the new format increasing traffic to Hearst’s fan pages, user engagement and brand awareness. “As we post new information, fans will be able to see it and comment on it, so we’re building a conversation around our history.”
Magazines now have more opportunity to highlight their newest content, said Chris Rackliffe, social media editor for Rodale’s Men's Health and Women's Health. "We plan to evoke feelings and visceral moments from the current newsstand issue each month,” he said.