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Facebook Timeline is going to become mandatory as of March 30th, 2012. If you have a Facebook page as a business or a brand, it’s really time to have a plan in place for the transition.

Let’s get this out of the way – I know there are people who feel violently opposed to the Timeline. In all honesty, I have not heard or read anything so far that makes me see it as anything more than a layout difference. You can still control who sees your past posts, and still opt to share minimally. What you did in 1983 doesn’t become public knowledge unless you choose to put it on FB. Well, or if a ‘friend’ does and tags you – but you can untag or unfriend anyway! I am not a fan of all things Facebook and have enough issues with the company. But this Timeline switch is not one of them!

This post is really about how brands can use timeline effectively. At the Facebook f8 conference, when introducing the new feature, Zuckerberg said, “Timeline is the story of your life.” And this is the crux of the idea for brands and their Facebook pages also. Use the Timeline to share your story with your fans and followers. Here’s a chance to help them engage with your organization, to learn more about how you got to be where you are today.

So, I have been researching to share 5 great Facebook Timeline users who have got this story-telling down pat and here they are:

The New York Times http://www.facebook.com/nytimes

NYT has the history to make the most of the new format, and they have used it well! What an interesting perspective of history and journalism.

FC Barcelona https://www.facebook.com/fcbarcelona

FC Barcelona has shown that history does not have to mean political moments alone – it is a pleasure to get these glimpses of the history of this football institution.

Coca-Cola https://www.facebook.com/cocacola

Coca-Cola has used these snippets of customer memories in much of their historical moments; it works well to make the whole story seem like personal reminiscences.

Survival International http://www.facebook.com/survival

Non-profits are taking to the Timeline slowly but there are some great examples and I like Survival International for going beyond the point they joined Facebook. An organization with a longer history has no reason to make their starting point 2009! Heather Mansfield of Non Profit Tech 2.0: A Social Media Guide for Non-Profits has a great post on 11 Non-Profits who have embraced the Timeline with great cover photos.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show https://www.facebook.com/ellentv

I added The Ellen DeGeneres Show for a couple of different reasons. I wanted to see how someone without a very long history was handling the Timeline and I wanted to also find how a celebrity was working with this change. (It was surprising to see that many of the big name celebrity brands have not yet made the switch to the Timeline.) I think the fact that this show has always been good about using photos as part of their updates is working well right now. It is fun to scroll down and find a lot of colorful images.

My takeaways from these brands:

  • When you have a history, flaunt it!
  • Try and incorporate photos or images where possible when updating your Timeline.
  • If your story involves other people, consumers or clients, find creative ways to integrate that into the narrative.
  • The Timeline history does not have to be momentous; it’s a place to celebrate the small milestones as well.
  • Have fun with it!

Now to see how much of all this I can incorporate in my much-neglected Facebook page!