Facebook Announces Global Rollout Of Sections On Timeline, Best Practices For App Developers

By David Cohen 

Facebook announced Tuesday that the application modules it introduced for Timeline in March have now been rolled out to all users, encouraging app developers in a post on its developer blog to incorporate these sections into their apps.

The social network said when introducing sections in March that the modules give apps prominent placement on users’ Timelines, and the collections created by developers can help boost engagement with users.

In Tuesday’s announcement, Facebook highlighted efforts by Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes, and Goodreads in the sections covering movies, TV shows, and books, respectively, as well as apps optimizing their usage of the music (Spotify, Rdio, and Deezer) and fitness (Nike+, Endomondo, Runtastic, and Strava) sections.

Facebook said in the blog post about the global rollout of sections:

In March, we introduced new sections on Timeline to help people express what’s important to them. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve rolled out sections to everyone and are seeing almost 200 million items being added daily.

Many developers have already integrated with sections to make their apps a core part of people’s identities on timeline. We’ve highlighted a few integrations below, along with a new app Insights tool and best practices for creating your own. Sections are also a more beautiful and lasting way to display your app on timeline compared to aggregations, which we are no longer supporting.

Apps like Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes, and Goodreads have integrated with sections to let people add their favorite media content to Timeline. To encourage people to share with friends, we’re rolling out the ability to rate content directly on Timeline and add ratings from apps.

People using music apps such as Spotify, Rdio, and Deezer can play songs liked by their friends with one simple click in the music section. To date, more than 17 billion songs have been added to people’s music sections through likes and listening activity from apps.

Apps such as Nike+, Endomondo, Runtastic, and Strava are letting people track their workouts and stay motivated with friends using the fitness section on timeline. For example, the section below features a summary of runs using data from several fitness apps. The bars show the number of miles for each run, and clicking on a bar displays a map of the route taken.

If your app does not use any of our common actions (listen, run, watch, read, etc.), you can easily create a custom app section. For example, OpenTable created a custom app section for foodies to share the restaurants that they like and recently dined at.

Many game developers are also taking advantage of custom app sections in addition to our games section. Hidden objects game Pearl’s Peril uses beautiful images to display the levels that a player has recently completed.

Facebook also announced that it expanded its app insights to include analytics on impressions from Timeline sections and referral clicks.

Finally, the social network included the following best practices for developers interested in taking advantage of app sections:

Custom app sections require review and user opt-in before they can be displayed on Timeline. We recommend that you keep these best practices in mind when creating yours:

  • Give people a way to add your custom section to Timeline: Consider including a URL in your app to give your users a preview of your section and help them decide whether to add it to Timeline (see foursquare example below).
  • Choose the right template for your section: For example, apps with great visual content should use the gallery template to draw people’s attention. We also support list and map templates.
  • Focus on quality and completeness before submitting your section for approval: To make the review process simple, submit your section only after making sure your object images and descriptions are complete and look great from the perspective of your users.