Andrew Teman

Nobody Cares About Your Brand’s History

It’s been a little more than a week now since Facebook released Timeline for brands at their FMC event. This new brand page format was a terribly kept secret leading up to the event, and was more or less a quick gloss-over on the way to a multi-hour romancing of what can be most neatly summed up as “MOAR ADS” once the event itself finally arrived.

Nevertheless, social media strategists and marketers went (and continue to go) berserk over this page restyling. Even saying things like this:

It’s as if dozens of little corporate museums just launched on Facebook. (from AdAge)

Now while that may technically be true, the problem is that these “little corporate museums” are likely to be about as popular as actual corporate museums. Which is to say, not very popular at all.

As a creative type at heart, I am not immune to being in love with the possibilities of what Timeline presents, and I have no doubt that some brands will find really neat ways to leverage this format. However, as the cynical and jaded northeast pragmatist that I am, I can’t help but feel like…well, like the general public just won’t care about this in the long run.

The two main issues that I immediately see here are:

  • Social media creation and consumption is still firmly entrenched in the present. Twitter feeds whiz by, Facebook newsfeeds update at a dizzying speed, and while every app on my phone may be recording what I’ve done (past tense), I only care about pushing the buttons and telling the world while I’m doing it (present tense). Rarely do I go back in digital time to re-live my OWN past, let alone the past of a corporation. Certainly Timeline aims to change this (as do apps like Timehop, which I admittedly love), but as shared experiences in the present tense continue to proliferate at a breakneck pace, one has to doubt if users will also have the desire to dig into corporate histories with any regularity.

  • The newsfeed still rules. When users consume content on Facebook, they are overwhelmingly doing so through their newsfeeds. And this is especially true when consuming content from “Liked” brands. Facebook Brand pages are rarely visited by fans more than once or twice on average, and being a user myself (and having watched/studied lots of other user behavior), I question whether or not those couple of visits will be spent scrolling through a deep timeline of corporate past and/or giving a shit about what that past contains.

    “Coke sponsored the 1928 Olympic Games? That’s great and all…but are there any coupons here?”.

Coca-Cola is actually a nice proxy for the “who cares?” theory. They are the most popular brand page on Facebook with over 40mm fans, and a brand with a storied corporate past. Also one of the launch brands for Timeline, so they’ve got the benefit of a first-mover’s advantage here as well. Scroll down to their two oldest Timeline posts, and there is a sum total of 384 actions on them (comments + likes). That’s a 0.00096% “engagement rate” if you’re scoring at home. And again, this from the biggest brand, with one of the most famous histories of all.