New Facebook Format Offers Health Care Brands a New, Vibrant Canvas to Tell Their Story

As readers of my blog will know, I’m a big believer that technology will be the driving force towards a healthier, more efficient and effective healthcare system. The rise of social media, led by Facebook, has been once such technology. Social media has helped to breakdown the traditional walls that separated businesses from consumers. Healthcare brands can leverage social outlets like Facebook and Twitter to engage with and respond to consumers in a personal, two-way manner never seen before. This past week, at Facebook’s first marketing conference, fMC, the social media bar was raised yet again with the rollout of timeline for brands, essentially providing a completely new format and presentation for a brand’s Page on Facebook.

Although Facebook announced more at fMC, including a new ad platform and mobile optimization, the star of the show was timeline. The key takeaway is that the new Page is all about visual engagement—and the importance of creating engaging content. The old saying “Content is King” has never been more important. Although timeline is quite beautiful, it’ll only be as effective as the content that fills it. And that content must be engaging to find its way into consumers’ news feeds. That is where engagement really begins. So despite the new format – and it is really a vast improvement – brands need to remember that priority No. 1 is creating content that will surface in user’s news feed and ticker, all the while helping to create your brand’s story on your timeline. Not to mention that with the new ad platform, marketers can literally take content that is most engaged with and turn that into an ad. Again, it’s all a focus on your content creation.

Now back to the main news of timeline. It is sort of like a mini website on Facebook. As with consumer timelines, the new feature allows marketers to present themselves through photos, videos and actions. It represents a dramatic improvement over the old Page format and an excellent way for marketers to tell their story. Starting with the large cover photo, timeline is all about vibrant visuals, allowing brands to emphasize the chapters in their history that are relevant and interesting, all the way back to their founding. So if your company was started in 1910, you can begin your timeline there, taking your fans back in time over a century. The new Pages will allow brands to use “Pinned” posts upfront under the cover photo so consumers’ attention will be on your key message. It’s also more “friend-centric” with friend activity more prominently featured and refreshed regularly. Facebook also added a direct message feature so consumers can connect to brands in a one-to-one manner.

So what does this mean for healthcare marketers? It means you should start thinking about how to curate your timeline, highlighting your brand’s key events, milestones and activities—but present this content in a valuable, entertaining and engaging way. When timeline officially rolls out, which will be March 30th, Facebook will automatically pull in your past activity. But you can add and delete items giving marketers a chance to create their brand story in a compelling and visual manner. Companies can quite literally personalize and humanize their brand giving consumers a new way to look at you—something valuable for certain healthcare brands like insurance companies and hospitals that have traditionally been viewed as anything but personal and human.

Although the rollout is March 30th some brands were part of the beta launch. Take, for instance, healthcare brand J&J’s Johnson’s Baby Page. The brand’s timeline includes the founding in 1894; introduction of Johnson’s Baby Cream back in 1920; its new ad campaign; sharing of consumer’s milestones; educational health videos; and even interesting and timely stories like how designers during Fashion Week in NYC used Johnson’s Baby Powder to give the models’ hair more bounce. It’s a great blend of content. And it all has differing elements of engagement and interaction.

AdAge recently wrote about some great brand Timelines, illustrating how some smart brands are curating their timelines in truly entertaining fashion. Walmart uses a photo from its first store opening back in 1962. Coke includes a hand-written note from a drug store owner in 1893 noting the increase in sales and excitement over the new soda drink, Coca-Cola. And ESPN uses video from its first SportsCenter broadcast.

You can almost think of timeline as your brand’s digital museum, highlighting the key events that make your brand what it is today as well as throughout history. But don’t be so dazzled by the visual timeline that you forget that the focus should be on creating content that your fans will engage with. Consumers spend the majority of their time in their own news feed, not on other parts of Facebook. It’s still all about getting into that news feed. So strike a balance between telling your brand story with content that matters to your fans. Bottom line is Facebook has given marketers another strong marketing tool. Leverage it. But remember your content is what matters.

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