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Research reveals Timelines on Facebook brand pages is boosting engagement

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30th Mar 2012
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New research of early adopter brands who made the switch to the new Timeline-style format back in February has revealed that they have experienced sizeable increases in engagement.

Wildfire Interactive carried out analysis of early adopters to assess the impact and the findings indicate that the change is good.

According to the study of of 43 early-adopter brands of Facebook’s Timeline, the new format has had a significantly positive effect on metrics, with double-digit increases in likes and comments per post.

This is good news as all Facebook brand pages will automatically be switched to the new Timeline format from today.

Wildfire’s research shows that for the majority of brands that already made the switch, Timeline 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. Key findings included:
1.  Brands with fewer than one million fans got a sizable boost from switching to Timelines
For brands with less than one million fans, which represent around 85% of the company pages on Facebook, the effect on engagement of switching to Timelines was very positive. Likes per Brand Post increased by 60%, Comments per Brand Post increased by 40 percent and PTAT spiked by 67%. 
A smaller increase in engagement was noted with brands sized between one to ten million fans. For these brands, Likes Per Brand Post increased by about 14%. PTAT increased by nearly 29%. However, Comments Per Brand Post for this group actually decreased by about 17 percent.
The data showed that brands with more than 10 million fans actually saw decreases across all measures; however, the brands in this category were all participants in Facebook’s Timeline debut, which generated significant media attention and inflated engagement numbers for these brands at the time of the launch.
Despite the significant differences in engagement activity after the implementation of Timeline for brands, there was little change seen in Facebook Fan Growth Rate. Though Timeline is more engaging, the increased engagement doesn’t necessarily translate to an increase in fan-count. People are interacting with pages without becoming fans and continue to be very selective about which brands they will publicly like.
2. Photo and video posts perform better in the new Timeline layout
Prior to Timeline, status updates were the best ways to generate likes and comments, outperforming the next-best post-type by about 22% and 17% respectively. Video posts were the best way to generate shares, outperforming the next-best type of post by nearly 70%.
With the new visual structure of the Timeline, performance of photo and video posts increased significantly. Visual media has more screen real estate and is displayed very prominently. Videos and photos posted to the Timeline attract more attention from users and the engagement numbers reflect this. Photos are now top when it comes to generating comments, outperforming the next-best post-type by more than 8%. Video posts in the new Timeline layout now outperform the next-best post-type at generating shares, by 90%.
3. Pinned posts may perform better than regular posts, with pinned photo posts performing best
Brands can now opt to 'pin' or 'feature' content in their Timeline to give it more prominence. Since the 29th February, the brands Wildfire tracked generated 98 featured posts and 18 pinned posts, out of 2,228 posts analysed. Although this is a small sample size, early indicators point to superior performance for pinned posts, but little change in performance for most types of featured posts. Wildfire’s preliminary findings suggest that brands could be more successful by pinning posts with greater frequency.
On a per-post basis, pinned posts performed better than regular posts, generating 39 percent more Likes, 6% more comments and 32% more shares than regular posts. Pinning a photo may boost engagement even more: on a per-post basis, pinned photo posts generated 44% more likes, three percent more comments and 63% more shares than regular photo posts.
Featured video posts were top when it comes to generating shares – featured video posts outperformed any other type of featured or pinned content by 3.77x, and outperformed regular video posts by 2x.
“With the debut of Timelines for brands on the 29th February, brands and marketers everywhere wondered whether the major changes to fan page functionality would cause noticeable differences in engagement activity,” said Jordan Drewitt, director of analytics at Wildfire. “Our analysis shows the new Timeline format offers significant opportunities for brands to boost engagement with their content and their pages.”
The report can be downloaded at this link.

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