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

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