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With Facebook Timeline Looming, Brands Need to Be More Responsive

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 29, 2012 05:04 PM

One of the beautiful things about social media is that suddenly there is a way for everyday consumers can reach out and actually communicate with a brand without having to sit on hold waiting for a customer-service agent who might have no idea what you’re talking about.

Some companies have a team of people who keep busy all day monitoring and responding to the posts that flood in from Twitter and Facebook. We’re all just looking for human contact, right? And if a brand can give that to a consumer, that can’t hurt the brand loyalty.

Of course, plenty of brands don’t have a team of people doing that, either, so it’s not shocking that a new study has found that the responsiveness of 20 top U.S. retailers on Facebook is, well, “uneven, at best,” according to CNN.

As brands rush to meet Friday's deadline to curate their Facebook Timeline, it's sobering food for thought — but there's good news for brands that have already made the Timeline switch.

The survey, conducted by STELLAService, found that that “one out of four companies failed to respond to a customer-service question posted on their Facebook wall, and even fewer replied to questions asked as comments on their posts,” CNN notes.

"Brands are doing an enthusiastic job of bringing people to their pages," commented Jordy Leiser, STELLAService's co-founder, to CNN. Even so, "I don't think they're also necessarily bringing with them a desire to be social. It's just turning into a marketing message for many companies."

The winner for Facebook responsiveness? New York City’s B&H Photo, which responded to wall posts in about two minutes. Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table and Footlocker also did well, responding to posts in les than a half hour.

The losers? Victoria’s Secret, One Kings Lane, Radio Shack, J. Crew and Rue La La all took more than two days to respond to wall posts. "Retailers need to realize that two days in Facebook time is like two years in real time," Leiser told CNN. "Customer questions on Facebook should be granted the same urgency as a phone call."

For those brands who have already flipped on Facebook Timeline, meanwhile, the results are promising. 

New research from Wildfire shows that for the majority of brands, the switch to Timeline has had a very large, positive impact, with double-digit increases in metrics such as Likes Per Brand Post, Comments Per Brand Post and “People Talking about This” (PTAT). It also showed that the new layout boosted performance of rich-media content such as photos and videos.

Some insights from Wildfire's study of Facebook brand pages:

1. Brands with less than 1 million fans got a sizable boost from switching to Timelines.

· For this group, which represents 85% of the company pages on Facebook, Likes Per Brand Post increased by 60%, Comments Per Brand Post increased by 40% and PTAT spiked by 67%.

2. Photo and video posts perform better in the new Timeline layout.

· Photos are now tops when it comes to generating comments, outperforming the next-best post type by more than 8%.

· Sharing of videos has also increased; when it comes to generating shares, video posts in the new Timeline layout now outperform the next-best post type by 90%.

3. Pinned posts perform better than regular posts, with pinned photo posts performing best.

· Pinned posts performed better than regular posts, generating 39% more Likes, 6% more comments and 32% more shares than regular posts.

· Pinned photos generated 44% more likes, 3% more comments and 63% more shares than regular photo posts.

Vitrue CEO Reggie Bradford has address Timeline best practices for Mashable and Forbes, and has seen the firm's clients who have initiated Facebook Timeline reporting increased interaction with users.

According to the firm, "Some brands have seen as much as 190% lift in engagements rate per fan. While 52% saw a reduction in engagement rate when timeline shift was made, 27% saw greater than a 20% increase in engagement rate (includes likes, comments, etc.) when implementing best practices for brand pages including:

• Leveraging sharable content to drive engagement   

• Expanded visual properties

• Prioritized content, such as pins and company milestones 

Vitrue looked at a dozen of its client brand pages (bigger brands like Harley Davidson and Johnson's Baby) that went live on February 29 at fMC and compared their February (pre-timeline) to March (post-timeline) engagement (for a complete month's worth of data). Overall, the brand pages that went live received 38% more likes and 3.5% more comments after launching Timeline.

"With the new layout, it will be a slight transition for brands but the brands that have a well thought out strategy and implement an engaging and appropriate look-and-feel will find lifts in fan engagement," the company stated in a press release.


Ed Kriese United States says:

We are seeing better results after switching to the new time line.

March 30, 2012 11:08 AM #

Dan T. United States says:

For smaller companies, I see timeline as an opportunity to collect and catalog pieces of their history.  In a way it forces you into acting as your own historian.

March 30, 2012 05:19 PM #

Eric United States says:

The timeline has some nice features and is better than the new YouTube layout that's for sure. I do wish Facebook had more layout options instead of forcing features on us.

At any rate, you made a good point about companies rushing to get business coming to their social networks only to leave the visitors hanging. I think this is the main dilemma most web businesses face is interacting with customers.

Providing a premium product or service is great, but can you keep your customers engaged?

March 31, 2012 11:00 PM #

Rob Austria says:

the new timeline is a dogs breakfast.  My business page was changed about 3 weeks ago and now it is almost impossible to find what was easy to before.  Today, 1st May 2012, no post that i made was visible on my page, but everyone else but me was able to see it.  Had a gutful of Facebook and have now deleted both my business and personal accounts.

April 1, 2012 02:26 AM #

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