Life in aggregate: Building brands in Timeline
Global - Facebook may have come from humble beginnings, but after just eight years in operation the company is today anything but humble.
As it barrels towards its US$5 billion initial public offering, Facebook is also about to undergo one of the biggest shifts in how it interacts with its 850-plus million users.
Timeline, first introduced late last year, is widely expected to be rolled out to all user whether they like it or not over the next few weeks. Or perhaps even sooner if online rumors are to be believed.
Previously offered as an optional switch, Timeline, a digital scrapbook of sorts, is aiming to shift users away from the immediate and bring together a digital story of their lives, in an aggregated way.
And for brands the opportunities are immense, says Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions.
"Timeline is going to be more engaging and make Facebook relevant for generations to come," Everson said.
"In a marketing landscape that has shifted to encompass more of social interactions and two-way communication, Timeline is able to provide that appropriate avenue."
With Timeline, users have the option of adding events that occurred prior to joining Facebook, which she says allows brands to have a much deeper engagement with users.
"The biggest challenge with this industry today is getting both clients and agencies to understand that Facebook is about having a conversation with consumers and not simply delivering a message to them."
She says marketing used to be about making a formal toast at the centre of the room, but it's now about sitting at the dinner table with guests and having provoking conversations.
"This is a very different skill set, and I think it's different from marketers learning how to deliver a message to somebody. We've also learnt how to make sure we have the proper reach and frequency."
Yet Everson believes this shifting landscape requires marketers to pick up a new skill. Additionally, they need to form partnerships with the right agencies that will offer the most important opportunities.
"Clients want to understand the full picture, be it how Facebook can impact their marketing, and how TV, print, outdoor and other media can be more social. It takes a partnering philosophy and not just a one-to-one relationship to decide on the right priorities for the brand."
Just like most marketers, she has observed significant growth in Asia Pacific.
With the proliferation of mobile in the region, Facebook is hoping to shape its overall mobile strategy based on the opportunities of the media in Asia Pacific.
For a brand whose position is constantly threatened by the next big idea in social media, Everson believes Timeline and Facebook's ability to remain completely focused on social and "having the web built around people and connections" is what will keep relevant.Carolyn Everson spoke to Kristie Thong, with additional reporting from Matt Eaton.
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