Recently, Facebook debuted a new "Timeline" approach to user profiles, which many early adopters have already started using for fun and experimentation. But here's the real question: If the timeline format kicks in for all users, will business pages be far behind?
If the past is any indication, Facebook is fond of uniformity. New formatting changes typically apply to users first, then gradually roll out to businesses. We're even seeing that this week, as Facebook quietly enabled larger photos and galleries on business pages, about two weeks after giving them to users.
Here's an example of the photo change, which our client pages just received this morning:
With such features already being activated for business, it's clearly worth discussing the biggest user change in the works: Timeline.
The new user profile format, currently in beta, uses the full width of your screen to display your updates, photos and conversations in chronological order, with a timeline running down the middle and a related navigation by year off to the far right.
The goal is to turn your profile into a sort of real-time autobiography. You can even go back and add events or comments to the past. Here's a nice video overview from Facebook:
It's like public journaling. Or better yet, it's more like public scrapbooking, with pictures, video, links and coversation. It seems like a lot to deal with, especially when I think about filling in the gaps from years 1986 to 2005. But then again, I once swore I would never upload an photo album to Facebook. Well, 23 albums later, you can label me a liar.
So is Timeline coming to a business page near you? Our colleague Will Flowers mocked up the Luckie timeline you see at the top of this post, and we'd say it looks about right. But there are still several waypoints between here and there.
First Timeline will obviously have to come out of beta, which it is almost certain to do. This beta period was essentially just created for developers to play around with the new format and see how their apps will or won't work within the new environment.
But then there's the question of whether Timeline is the right format for a business. Does a company need a scrapbook? An autobiography? Most consumers, who just want coupons, exclusives and freebies, would probably say no.
But Timeline does show a dramatic shift in how a Facebook page can be formatted. It's modular. And modular means it can be customized. A modular layout for pages could mean an end to tab applications, or at least a complete overhaul of how tabs are used.
For now, we'll keep experimenting and watching as new features continue to evolve. We're curious to hear your predictions, so please be sure to share them in the comments.