The Facebook Timeline is a much talked-about and discussed aspect of the social networking site. The Timeline view offers brands and businesses the chance to tailor and curate the content on their pages, and focus more on images and visuals. Has the move to this view made a difference to brand pages? Several researchers have tried to determine the impact of Timeline. Here is a look at some of the viewpoints.
Timeline has increased page engagement:
A Sotrender report analyses whether the change makes a difference to page engagement. Sotrender, an analytical tool for marketers on Facebook, studied 130 of UK’s biggest company pages and about 5000 posts made since the Timeline view was made compulsory for brand pages, nearly 2 months ago.
The results showed that while basic metrics like average number of likes, comments and shares per user remain unchanged, there were significant increases in two aspects.
Average lifetime of a post: According to the study, the half-life of a post before April was less than an hour, post the Timeline change it is 2 hours 30 minutes. The half-life of a post is defined as the time in which it gets half the attention and feedback that it will ever get. Also, 80% of all comments on a post are made in approximately 8 hours and 30 minutes, as opposed to 6 hours and 30 minutes before Timeline. This is significant for page managers to note, as posting too often may cannibalise an earlier post’s attention.
Increased engagement: The Timeline also increased page engagement by 13%. Before the Timeline an average post triggered the activity of 158 fans. Now an average post triggers the activity of 179 fans.
An earlier study by Simply Measured, which studied posts from 15 pages that were early adopters of the Timeline, reports that pages got 46% more engagement per post after switching. They also reported a 65% increase in engagement for posts with interactive content, i.e. photos and videos.
Another positive testimonial for the Timeline comes in the form of Tumblr‘s recent report that its referral traffic from Facebook is up by 2.5 times since upgrading for Timeline and launching with open graph.
Timeline hasn’t had significant impact on page engagement:
We have also heard opposing opinions in several places. Mat Morrison at the Magic Bean Laboratory, a blog on data-driven social media insights, analysed the same 15 pages studied in the Simply Measured study, and concluded that the data wasn’t enough to claim that engagement was higher due to the switch to Timeline, and suggested that if fans were responding more to posts, it was likely due to better content.
EdgeRank also studied the impact of Timeline on over 3500 brand pages, and found that the difference in engagement between pages that had migrated to Timeline, and those that hadn’t, was not enough to be considered significant.
This is a valid point, as most engagement with the page takes place within the news feed, which the Timeline has no direct impact on. The Timeline can only be considered a factor when fans like or comment on posts when they come to the page itself. There isn’t yet a study that has studied engagement only on the page itself.
There are also several pages that have studied their own data, and analysed their performance before and after the timeline. The Social Distillery compared their page’s performance two weeks before and after the switch to Timeline, keeping content frequency, strategy and topic constant, so that any change in engagement was wholly attributed to the display of content. They reported a 40% increase in engagement, in the form of likes, clicks and comments.
A concrete conclusion cannot, however, be reached on the basis of anecdotal evidence. Have you conducted a study for your brand page? How do you think the Timeline has impacted your page’s engagement? Share with us.