Time for Timeline on Your Medical Clinic Facebook Pages

Facebook Timeline for Medical Clinic MarketingFacebook has just launched Timeline for brand pages, introducing several new features and a short window for medical practices to preview them before the mandatory rollover on March 30th.

Before getting to the details of the features and what it means to your Facebook brand pages, it may help to understand what Facebook says is driving the change to this new format and make sure your Facebook strategy aligns with this intent.

According to Sam Lessin, the Timeline product manager, “organizations have identities too.” The new design layout is an attempt to give “brands and businesses more ways to tell their story” and the interactive features make the “experience more dynamic and relevant for Facebook users.

Facelift for Facebook Ads

Simultaneous with the Timeline rollout, Facebook also announced changes in its ad products. Facebook sees this as a major evolution in its services as it moves from being an ad platform to a marketing platform. “We are evolving from ads to stories,” said Facebook’s director of global business marketing Mike Hoefflinger. With an IPO on the horizon, Facebook is also attempting to revive sagging profits in its ad group and sees story telling as the method to do this.

What Facebook is promoting is a move from its premium ad product to products that promote engagement and are closely aligned to content posted on the company’s brand page. Currently, brand advertising tends to reach less than 16% of Facebook users through News Feeds. New products such as the Reach Generator facilitate brand content, reaching up to 75% of a company’s followers over the course of a month.

Facebook is also introducing a Groupon-like product called Offers, along with mobile ads, and coming in April ads will appear on the log out screen, which Facebook says is seen by 105 million users a month.

Facebook Timeline Features

So what does all this mean to your medical marketing? As I wrote yesterday in my summary of the keynote address at SES London, medical practices that understand the change in brand marketing from shouting to conversation will find the Facebook changes a natural evolution of the rules of patient engagement.  The gap between those who seek conversation and those who continue to shout about themselves will grow even wider with the move to the Timeline layout.

Here is a quick overview of the changes to Facebook brand pages:

  1. Cover Image:  The most obvious change is the introduction of a 851 x 315px banner across the top of your brand page.  Unfortunately, Facebook is applying a few restrictions to the use of the cover image that removes its obvious marketing functionality:
    • No price or purchase information
    • No sales or special offer information
    • No information that is meant to be provided in the contact section such as web address, email, physical address etc.
    • No promotion of Facebook features such as Like Us or Share content
    • No calls to action
  2. Admin Panel:  The Admin Panel expands in the area directly below the cover image to allow page administrators the ability to manage the page directly from within the Timeline interface. The Admin area can be hidden so the page approximates what a normal visitor sees.
  3. About Section: Below the Cover image is an “about” section with easy access to the profile picture, company name, company info, page stats and apps.
  4. Pinned Posts: The Timeline’s top left position is reserved for a pinned post.  Pinning allows you to feature a post for seven days, making it useful for promotional items.
  5. Highlight Posts:  Posts can be highlighted to make them spread the full width of the page.
  6. Milestone Posts: Along with the normal status, photo, and question updates, Timeline offers a Milestone category.  Milestones are significant events in your medical practice’s history such as new locations, new physicians or other providers or anything that you deem to be especially important.
  7. Messages: Fans can send private messages directly to your page, creating a new avenue for communication besides publicly visible status posts. These messages are visible in a panel within the admin section. Pages cannot initiate messages to fans, just respond to them.

One feature that will be lost with the introduction of Timeline is the default landing tab that allowed marketers to provide a gated entry to their Facebook page.  Gated pages showed fans different content than people who had not yet liked them.  While disappointing to many marketers, it is a small price to pay for the new features that Timeline offers.

The new layout is all about staying fresh and giving visitors value.  Medical practices who invest in timely relevant content are likely to be successful within the new structure of Facebook.  For many medical practices though, the challenge remains of justifying the investment in social media when direct attribution of economic value remains somewhat fuzzy.

Time for Timeline on Your Medical Clinic Facebook Pages

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