Facebook has finally rolled out timeline for pages. While I’ve seen a lot of people making a big noise about how this is a game changer for brands and companies, I feel that most of the chatter has been about cover picture branding and the more trivial aspects of the new format. Yes, the visual aspects are important, and the new ways to advertise are major improvements, but I think most people are missing the true potential of timeline for pages. Timeline allows for a page to tell a story, and that story can be far more than just daily posts. Timeline is an entirely new way of presenting and digesting content, and there are unlimited applications for the astute socialite. Educational uses, a creative platform for artists, the options are never ending. Here are a few potential applications for the new Facebook pages layout:
(1 A Timeline Page for a History Class
This would be a great way to harness student’s love of Facebook to an educational end. Timeline would go a long way in helping students to better visualize the relative timing of important events. Imagine if a teacher made a timeline for a history class (I was thinking world war two when I first had this idea) and filled in the basic framework of events, but required the students to add additional posts to fill in the finer details of the story. Not only would timeline give a fantastic visual context for the important events, but it would seamlessly integrate a schoolwork activity into into a platform that almost all students recreationally use. Unfortunately, timeline currently only allows for events to be dated as far back as 1800, so that leaves out subjects like US history, but I’m sure some bright educator will take these new tools that Facebook has given us and integrate them into a fantastic future curriculum.
(2 A Unique Platform for Artists
Yes, many artists currently use Facebook as a tool to promote their work, but what if Facebook Pages became the canvas for a new form of expression? An artist could release a new song or piece of visual art, and also post the behind the scenes activity leading up to the final project. Deadmau5 currently uses U-Stream to occasionally do tutorials about production techniques, but what if he used timeline to show the process leading up to the completed album, with tutorial videos, pictures from the studio, and anything else that would take you fully into his artistic process? Granted, such a thoughtful approach to content would be a lot of extra work for the page admin, but the opportunities that Facebook Timeline creates will inevitably force everyone who wishes to remain relevant to completely rethink their posting strategy.
(3 A Completely Novel Approach to Storytelling
Combine the micro-posting of Facebook with the great american novel, and the potential for fantastic storytelling is unlimited. Just imagine a mystery story that required readers to comb a page’s timeline for clues. Additional clues could come in the form of frequent posts, and page users could speculate on the potential culprit, with the various characters responding, testifying to their innocence. The freedom for an author to tell a story with more flexibility than traditional, linear plot structure could lead to some fantastic innovations in storytelling. I literally cannot wait to see if and when people start experimenting with this.
All of these ideas are just scratching the surface of Timeline’s potential. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment, or shoot me a Tweet, and I’d love to chat about it with you.
Mr. David Benson is a social media analyst and coffeephile. He currently lives in New York City and works as an analyst for Mashwork, a social media analytics company.