Mashable has had some really informative posts on all the recent Facebook announcements of late. The first one here walks you through how to enable Facebook Timeline now. It’s really just a more visually oriented way of viewing your Facebook status and profile. The instructions are fairly easy to follow but be aware that only other people who have done this will be able to see your changes for now. Once timeline goes out of public beta, it will be viewable by everyone.
Mashable added another article a day or two ago regarding how these changes might directly effect brand pages. And this one discussing what this all means for marketers using Facebook. According to the later post:
“Marketers, who have been told for years that they’re actually publishers now, will have to put that into practice”, says Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, a digital marketing firm. “Facebook is a channel, albeit a collaborative one, that needs to be programmed,” says Schafer. “We need to get people to share and interact with more content.”
This is a perfect example of why brands needs to focus on building an engaging brand experience on their own site and not put all their eggs in a specific social media service’s basket. If you build a storefront in Facebook, what happens when Facebook changes their terms of service? It’s kind of like a New Jersey protection racket…”Gee, it would be a shame if your nice little store had a fire or somethin’, wouldn’t it? But, if you take advantage of our special policy, I can assure you nothin’ will happen.” We’ve already heard rumblings that Facebook is pushing down brand pages from fan’s news feeds, in preparation for coming back to brands with their hands out for MONEY!
Social media is great, until it isn’t. For years, all brands could do was lease somebody elses media to reach an audience. Not anymore. A smart brand, who knows how to find out the information, education and inspiration needs of their customers can now cheaply create their own media channel and build an audience that they own.
Really, we think the safe bet is for brands to take the later course, viewing themselves as media companies, producing helpful, relevant, engaging and entertaining content that people are already searching for and building an audience they own on their own brand site. This site then functions as a distribution hub for the content to be scattered over then entire web. By all means, post it on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and YouTube and any other specific social site that makes sense for your audience. But, don’t for a minute think these social channels will continue to offer brands their services for free forever. It’s only a matter of time before they start flexing their media might and changing for audiece acces.