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Reposted from: http://www.imediaconnection.com/article_full.aspx?id=31715

Written by: Katrina Wong is VP of marketing at social media analytics and engagement company Socialbakers.

Facebook’s new mandatory Timeline provides brands with significant opportunities to increase their social engagement. Iconic and trusted organizations are already tapping into Timeline’s enhanced functionalities — and reaping the benefits. For example, the New York Times has populated its Timeline page with visuals and content dating back to the founding of the newspaper in 1851, while Buckingham Palace uses Timeline to document historical data as far back as 1705. On the brand side, Coca-Cola is using Timeline to showcase its unique identity, while Starbucks uses Timeline as a consumer channel to tout both its company culture and global coffee brand.

Companies that neglect Timeline’s brand-friendly attributes will fall victim to the ever-distracted nature of the online consumer. At Socialbakers, we continuously analyze social media data to determine how brands can maximize their social media investments by posting engaging content to the most influential online users. Based on millions of points of global data, we have found the following mistakes cause the greatest hindrance to a company’s success in using Timeline.

Mistake 1: Ignoring the cover photo guidelines
Timeline’s cover photo works as your brand’s personal billboard. It provides a strong visual impact — but only if you use the space wisely. Do not forget that Timeline is designed for storytelling, not promoting. In fact, Facebook has released strict guidelines that ban promotions, coupons, and advertisements in this space.

Cover photos should not include product pricing or purchase information, contact information, references to “like” or share buttons (or any arrows pointing to them), or direct calls-to-action such as “get it now” or “tell your friends.”

Rather, make sure your brand uses clean, simple cover photo images to convey powerful brand messages. And don’t hesitate to rotate your cover photo occasionally to highlight special occasions. (For more tips, check out “6 Tips for a Stunning Cover Photo.”)

Mistake 2: Leaving your “about” section blank
The “about” section under your cover photo is an essential way to define your brand, while informing consumers that your company cares more about its users than it does about immediately selling product via Facebook. Facebook users will visit this section to discover what the company does and, more importantly, to understand the company’s mission and vision for both its internal stakeholders and its customer community.

The “about” section is an important means of building community support. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to clearly convey the heart and soul of your company.

Mistake 3: Spamming your fans with milestones
Milestones are valuable in helping to construct a brand’s story by marking important moments in the company’s history. Small businesses should take full advantage of this feature because it provides a sense of community closeness, stability, and trust to fans.

However, brands and marketers must be aware that not all news is suitable for mass notifications to an entire community of followers. Facebook anticipated this issue and developed a way for companies to post information without burdening their communities with continual notifications. When posting to Timeline, choose the “hide from news feed” option to avoid spamming your fans’ streams with each and every little update.

If there’s something you want to say but it’s not important enough to mark as a brand milestone, you can always post a status message to an earlier date. Simply write the status message and click on the option “change date.” Again, don’t forget to hide it from the news feed!

Mistake 4: Not highlighting posts
Facebook Timeline has introduced many interesting features to help tell a brand’s story, so it would be a shame not to take advantage of them. Brands can highlight specific content by “pinning” it to the top of their walls with an orange ribbon, which will ensure that it stays on the top of a company’s Timeline feed for seven days (or until you change it for another post).

Likewise, brands can emphasize a story or visual by clicking the star at the top right corner of the post to spread the image horizontally across the entire Timeline page.

Mistake 5: Posting a single type of content
Brands must rely on all formats of storytelling — images, links, videos, and more. Each form of content plays a huge role in presenting your products and services, as well as helping consumers better understand your corporate culture and vision. Marketers must incorporate all post types into their Timeline storytelling in order to consistently engage fans.

Our research indicates that the greatest levels of user engagement stem from pictures and albums. However, companies that focus on a single form of content tend to see lower overall engagement rates than those that diversify to provide unique and ever-changing content to their Facebook communities.

Katrina Wong is VP of marketing at social media analytics and engagement company Socialbakers.