How the Facebook Timeline is causing problems for brands

You know you have a feeling about something and then you see some research that confirms it. Well for a few weeks I have wondered what impact the introduction of the timeline on Facebook branded pages would have on engagement, and now thanks to Wildfire the results are in. Basically likes are up, but engagement and comments are down. Here’s what they say.

First, the good news: Likes are up an average of 22% per post and People Talking About This (PTAT) rose 25%. The bad news? Comments are down 6.5% per post and fan growth was “slowed slightly” for all brands on average, but brands with more than 1 million fans experienced twice the sluggishness of smaller brands. The company did not delineate the extent of that slowing.

Generally, bigger brands fared less well than their smaller counterparts. Likes per post on brands with 1 million-plus fans jumped 10.9% while PTAT was up 11.9% and comments per post fell 7.4%.

Wildfire CEO Victoria Ransom believes that comments are down with the Timeline redesign because “it’s much more difficult to see users’ comments, both on a brand’s wall and in the newsfeed.” Adding to the issue, “comments from other fans don’t show up in brands’ posts on users’ newsfeeds and because Timeline is now so visual with so much real estate taken up by pictures and videos, comments are quickly collapsed. This encourages likes and shares more than comments,” Ransom says.

I always thought that the re-design would have a negative impact on comments as the twin column design of the pages makes it a lot trickier to read and then engage.

That isn’t to say that Facebook is in any real way undermined as an amazing social platforms for brands. It is just that the timeline system really needs to be a work in progress for brands and that it might need a little tweaking. Personally I miss that one column grid, and ironically single column large image/video posts look very striking across the page. Over to you Facebook.

Here’s the full story

Peter Norman – a real Olympic hero


Listening to Five Live tonight and was reminded what a hero this guy, Peter Norman was. He was the white Aussie who finished 2nd in the 200 metres in the Mexico Olympics in 1968.

On the podium the black Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the Black Power raised glove fist salute to highlight the near Apartheid that existed in some parts of the US. Norman was a very decent human being who wanted to show solidarity with Smith and Carlos so at the medal ceremony he wore a badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights which Smith and Carlos passionately believed in.

Smith and Carlos were treated terribly by the US Olympic team and sent home in apparent disgrace. However as the decade went by Smith and Carlos became seen as heroes who committed a brave and selfless act. Carlos in particular is a wonderfully articulate advocate of human rights.

As for Norman, by showing his support he was ostracised by Australian Athletics and pilliored by the media. Even though he qualified for the Munich Olympics in 1972 the authorities wouldn’t let him run. When the Olympics came to Sydney, his home town, in 2000 he wasn’t celebrated or even acknowledged.

Shunned by his country’s authorities (all for wearing a badge!) he battled depression and alcohol addiction and died comparitively young. Carlos and Smith didn’t forget his stand though. They were pallbearers at his funeral.

All three are real heroes IMO, but Norman deserves to be remembered in some small way at London 2012.

Dominic Sandbrook’s Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974-1979, is just a week away


I am not sure we are on the same page politically, but I really love Dominic Sandbrook’s books about Britain. And next week part four – which covers the Wilson/Callaghan and rise of Thatcher era, arrives.

There have been lots of other recent histories of Britain, but I don’t think any other writer has the knack of bringing together politics, culture and social history of the era in such a seamless way. There’s also a big BBC series to accompany the book too. That’s April sorted then.

Another great new tech new channel to keep your eye on – GigaOm Europe


There’s some interesting re-organisation going on in the tech/media/start up blog world. Last month aol killed off TechCrunch Europe as a separate blog and incorporated it into the TechCrunch mothership with its own channel.

Now rival blog network GigaOm has done the same and launched GigaOm Europe as an addition to its main GigaOm domain. It focuses on the European start up scene with sides of tech, investor gossip and media updates.

It will be a must read largely because of the team that is producing it. I have massive respect for Bobbie Johnson, Rob Andrews and David Meyer, all of whom have a great track record in tech and media journalism.

If the launch is tinged with a little sadness it is because Paid Content UK, which was purchased by GigaOm from The Guardian recently, is no more with the UK and European content now being added to the main Paid Content site. It is a shame because it was by far the best site that focused on UK media and is now gone. An opportunity beckons for team or anyone else.

I keep meaning to put together a story detailing ‘ what happened to the media class of 2005.’ Most of the US sites from this period – HuffPo, Engadget etc are now ensconced in larger organisations/publishers, but it is a different story for the British sites.

Spotify for books edges closer with Bilbary

The Telegraph has an interesting interview today with Tim Coates, whose ebook store Bilbary was announced earlier this week. Coates says a couple of fascinating things. Firstly that the cost of ebooks should be cheaper – which sounds reasonable enough.

Secondly that when Bilbary launches it will have a rental section. 

It is with a lending model that the site aims to differentiate itself. Beginning with academic books, Bilbary customers will be able to ‘rent’ a book for a short period of time. Mr Coates said: “We’re the first to identify this idea of renting.”

Mainstream publishers “don’t want to do renting at the moment”, Mr Coates said but he said he expected that to change “in a year or so”.

We are still some way from a pay your ten quid and read as much as you like model – except in libraries. But surely it can’t be long before this is an option. I guess the book industry would hate it and it might be be hard to make the figures add up in the short term, but surely this is where we are heading.

The interview is here…


20 years ago today the 90s started – Alwyn Turner on the lost generation of 1992

As a bit of a history nut I have a theory that decades don’t really start in nice tidy places, like at midnight on the last day of the decade before. Rather they often take a few years to get going. The 60s looked very like the 50s until the Profumo Affair and The Beatles came along, and as for the 70s the events that characterised the decade – electricity strikes, glam rock and the arrival of swinging 60s attitudes outside of London – didn’t really happen until 72/73.

If you are looking for a starting point for the 90s then 9th April 1992 is probably your number one suspect. It was a glorious sunny day that I, along with the rest of the Camden Labour party, were convinced, would end with our woman Glenda Jackson defeating the odious Oliver Letwin in the Hampstead constituency and Britain finally kicking the Tories out replacing them with the Neil Kinnock led Labour party.

As we know all too well, in spite of prediction polls suggesting that Kinnock would edge it, John Major secured the largest ever vote for a party and the Tories were back in. The celebrations slated for Camden Palace turned out to a be a damp squib and we hopped off home at 2am after greeting our new MP, and the sole source of any sense of victory on the night, Glenda Jackson. I spent the next day sitting contemplating my future while overlooking central London from Neasden’s Gladstone Park. The future looked utterly grim.

For me it was the end of my serious involvement with the Labour party. I hung around for a few more years, but any political ambition had gone. My journalistic career was just starting to take off and I didn’t fancy spending five years as someone’s constituency agent knowing that in all likelihood the Tories would win again in 1997.

The idea that a whole generation of people ditched politics after that night is the premise behind a new book by Alwyn Turner – Things Can Only Get Bitter. Turner has already written excellent histories of the 70s and 80s and this is a taster for what promises to be an ground breaking work on the 90s.

Turner argues that those who were marginalised by the 90s – think the cast of Pulp’s Mis-shapes – gave up on politics and focused on other pursuits. They jetisoned the more extreme elements of what had passed for politically correct in the previous decade, forgot about changing the world and instead concentrated on reinventing British art, media and culture. So that day 20 years ago was partially responsible for Britpop, Loaded, Lad’s media and the gentrification of football.

Such was the fear too that the Tories would get back in that even with the polls showing a massive labour lead in 1997 Tony Blair wouldn’t contemplate victory until the final seats had been won. That fear too sparked a hangover which characterised much of the first Blair era in that in spite of that monster majority the Labour grandees simply wouldn’t chance anything that might upset the electorate.

I fundamentally agree with Turner’s arguements and am glad that someone way more articulate than I am has put strung them together. The book itself is a corker. How could you not love chapters about Morrissey at Madstock, discussions about the Hornbyisation of football and nods to Luke Haines’ Baader Meinhof album project.

Anyway, here is Turner reading the intro from his book. It is well worth your £2!