The Impact of Facebook Timeline for Brands [Study]

New Facebook Pages Drive Higher Engagement Rates

On February 29th (just over three weeks ago!) Facebook announced the upgrade that brands had been eagerly waiting for: Timeline. As with all major Facebook launches, marketers had big expectations. Facebook promised that Timeline would help “showcase brand’s unique stories and identities” and improve how consumers interact and engage with their favorite brands.

This study aims to get beyond the hype and measure the real impact of this change by analyzing the Facebook Fan Pages of 15 early adopters from a variety of industries. We measured Timeline’s impact by comparing engagement rates before and after Timeline was implemented for these pages.

Brands Get 46% More Engagement Per Post With Timeline:

Looking at our complete sample of early adopters shows the following increase in engagement when you compare averages before Timeline vs averages after Timeline:

1. 14% Increase in Fan Engagement
2. 46% Increase in Content Engagement
3. 65% Increase in Interactive Content Engagement (Video and Photo)

Looking at each individual brand in our samples shows that nearly all have had an engagement lift since Timeline launched. Livestrong, Toyota, Humane Society, and Red Bull showing the largest percentage increase within this group, all with dramatic lift in their per post averages.

How Timeline is Changing the Game for Brands

Facebook Timeline presents Fan Pages in a totally new light. This redesign is much more visual, focused on interactive content, and provides new features that give brands more control over how their Fan Page looks and feels. All of this is playing a role in how brand and consumers can engage on Fan Pages.

Disproportionate Engagement Growth for Multimedia Content

One key promise of Facebook Timeline is that fans should have an easier time finding and engaging with compelling content posted by the brands they care about.  Based on our initial findings related to engagement, this is exactly what is happening, and it’s particularly relevant for multimedia content (photo and video).

Photos and videos tend to drive positive engagement. Now that this interactive content has the ability to stand out even more on a page — with the new features like starring and pinning — it is not surprising that engagement is also on the rise. For example, looking at this starred Red Bull photo, it is easy to see why fans are drawn to engage with it, particularly in this new, larger, format.

Content Discovery is Becoming Easier

Fan Engagement is up 14%

Another key component of Timeline is the ease at which fans can discover content about a particular brand. This allows brands to tell their story and turn their page into a more deeply enriched and engaging experience.

Again, we can start attributing this increased exposure to the new features, particularly pinning. Looking at this Toyota example, they are continuing to raise awareness and draw attention to this event they are sponsoring. This piece of content was posted on March 10th, over ten days ago. And it is still receiving engagement, even within the last 24 hours.

As all of these are early findings, we’re going to update this over the coming months and continue to track the impact of Facebook Timeline. Be sure to check back!

Have questions about this data? Email Libby[at]simplymeasured[dot]com or post them in the comments below.

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Adam Schoenfeld

Adam Schoenfeld

Adam is the co-founder and CEO at Simply Measured. He has led Simply Measured from its inception as 'Untitled Startup, Inc' to become the leading social media analytics company, serving more than 1/3 of the top 100 brands and over 100,000 users. Adam is a golfer, breakfast enthusiast, and long-time data geek.

  • http://twitter.com/BrianTheCollins Brian Collins

    I’m sure that it might be difficult to measure, but I would love to see some metrics on the time-on-page numbers.

  • http://twitter.com/BrianTheCollins Brian Collins

    I’m sure that it might be difficult to measure, but I would love to see some metrics on the time-on-page numbers.

  • thejasonsadler

    I’m curious why AT&T, Target and Old Spice actually trended down? I also wonder how much impact a really great cover photo has for a page?

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      We were curious about the same thing, and from our analysis it looks like those who saw the downward trend had also decreased the volume of interactive content they posted. Will be something we keep an eye on in future studies.

      As for the cover photos, we are going to do more research and see what the impact of excellent photos are! 

      • Jan

         For small businesses who rely upon images to engage their customer base, Timeline and it’s cropped photos are a terrible institution. Customers get an incorrect perception upon viewing an image in Timeline as to it’s true aspect and dimensions – for instance, rectangular images are cropped to be square. In the instance of art, for example, and there are a LOT of artists who have their art on Facebook, if a potential customer is looking for a rectangular painting, and the images show as square, the customer moves on. The fact that photos are NOT shown as uploaded in their original aspect is a HUGE problem. The fact that you now have to scroll more to see content is also bas, as customers typically won’t do that.

  • thejasonsadler

    I’m curious why AT&T, Target and Old Spice actually trended down? I also wonder how much impact a really great cover photo has for a page?

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      We were curious about the same thing, and from our analysis it looks like those who saw the downward trend had also decreased the volume of interactive content they posted. Will be something we keep an eye on in future studies.

      As for the cover photos, we are going to do more research and see what the impact of excellent photos are! 

      • Jan

         For small businesses who rely upon images to engage their customer base, Timeline and it’s cropped photos are a terrible institution. Customers get an incorrect perception upon viewing an image in Timeline as to it’s true aspect and dimensions – for instance, rectangular images are cropped to be square. In the instance of art, for example, and there are a LOT of artists who have their art on Facebook, if a potential customer is looking for a rectangular painting, and the images show as square, the customer moves on. The fact that photos are NOT shown as uploaded in their original aspect is a HUGE problem. The fact that you now have to scroll more to see content is also bas, as customers typically won’t do that.

        • Deepti Gwalani

          How was the engagement rate calculated ?

  • http://magicbeanlab.com mediaczar

    How does this work? There’s an implication that users are engaging with content ON the Page — whereas we know that the huge lion’s share (let’s say conservatively 95%, but more commonly 99.5%) of content interaction happens on the Users’ own News Feeds.

    These data would make more sense, too, if we could be sure that you’ve allowed for some kind of statistical variation (e.g. fan growth over time, paid post activity, competitions, etc.) How have you allowed for this?

    I’d like to see some data on increase in visits to Page as a proportion of total reach before I give too much credence to this.

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      We did separate out the effects of fan growth and changes in post frequency; however, we don’t have data on paid post activity.  
      It’s a fair assumption that most content discovery is happening in fans’ new feeds, but the increased engagement numbers suggest to us that something about Timeline is driving engagement as that is the biggest thing that changed between pre and post Timeline launch.  

      • http://magicbeanlab.com mediaczar

        I’m finding it hard to reproduce your research – and indeed am seeing conflicting evidence; would you mind telling us how you selected the pre & post comparison periods?

        Some insight into how you took account of fan growth and post frequency would also be greatly appreciated.

  • http://magicbeanlab.com mediaczar

    How does this work? There’s an implication that users are engaging with content ON the Page — whereas we know that the huge lion’s share (let’s say conservatively 95%, but more commonly 99.5%) of content interaction happens on the Users’ own News Feeds.

    These data would make more sense, too, if we could be sure that you’ve allowed for some kind of statistical variation (e.g. fan growth over time, paid post activity, competitions, etc.) How have you allowed for this?

    I’d like to see some data on increase in visits to Page as a proportion of total reach before I give too much credence to this.

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      We did separate out the effects of fan growth and changes in post frequency; however, we don’t have data on paid post activity.  
      It’s a fair assumption that most content discovery is happening in fans’ new feeds, but the increased engagement numbers suggest to us that something about Timeline is driving engagement as that is the biggest thing that changed between pre and post Timeline launch.  

      • http://magicbeanlab.com mediaczar

        I’m finding it hard to reproduce your research – and indeed am seeing conflicting evidence; would you mind telling us how you selected the pre & post comparison periods?

        Some insight into how you took account of fan growth and post frequency would also be greatly appreciated.

  • http://someka.fr/ Pierre_miceli

    thanks but I think a major factor might be not included in this analysis : reach generator usage & premium ads. If a company use it, % engagement will change significantly

  • http://someka.fr/ Pierre_miceli

    thanks but I think a major factor might be not included in this analysis : reach generator usage & premium ads. If a company use it, % engagement will change significantly

  • http://www.whycommunicate.co.uk/ Garry Davis

    Interesting study, obviously off facebook engagement may have influenced some of these result and i agree with @thejasonsadler with regards to the impact of imagery. 

  • http://www.whycommunicate.co.uk/ Garry Davis

    Interesting study, obviously off facebook engagement may have influenced some of these result and i agree with @thejasonsadler with regards to the impact of imagery. 

  • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

    Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback! We’re going to be updating this study over the coming months and will definitely be looking at some of the data points you guys call out.

  • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

    Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback! We’re going to be updating this study over the coming months and will definitely be looking at some of the data points you guys call out.

  • scottgchildress

    I’m not convinced.  Several of the brands listed above that have done so well since Timeline was unveiled were showcase brands used by FB as examples of Timeline Pages – Red Bull and Ben & Jerry’s, for example.  It was obvious that many of these brands were “let in” early by Facebook…when they made their announcement these Pages were already fully built.  They have higher engagement because everyone and his brother involved in Social Media Marketing has been trolling those Pages looking at examples of how things could be done.  IF, and I said IF, there is any true increased engagement its simply because brands are more focused on CONTENT since Timeline rolled out.  As someone mentioned below, people don’t go to your Page past the initial like….the release of Timeline caused managers to say, ‘huh!  Looks like I need to put more energy into this pretty page I’ve created”…Timeline features had nothing to do with it, in my opinion.

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      Scott – you raise some valid points here. We did mix in both “launch partners” who received the attention you describe with brands that didn’t get that additional hype with the intent of beginning to unravel what the impact is. As time goes on, we will continue to update this study and draw further conclusions. 

      • http://mrchrisellis.com/ Chris Ellis

        How does your study compare to this one whichproduced the oposite results? Their sample size was a bit larger at 3,500
        http://edgerankchecker.com/blog/2012/04/how-does-facebooks-new-timeline-impact-engagement

        • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

          Hi Chris – for this initial study we took just a sample set of the early adopters. We plan on updating this study in the future, and will be broadening our data as we go.

  • scottgchildress

    I’m not convinced.  Several of the brands listed above that have done so well since Timeline was unveiled were showcase brands used by FB as examples of Timeline Pages – Red Bull and Ben & Jerry’s, for example.  It was obvious that many of these brands were “let in” early by Facebook…when they made their announcement these Pages were already fully built.  They have higher engagement because everyone and his brother involved in Social Media Marketing has been trolling those Pages looking at examples of how things could be done.  IF, and I said IF, there is any true increased engagement its simply because brands are more focused on CONTENT since Timeline rolled out.  As someone mentioned below, people don’t go to your Page past the initial like….the release of Timeline caused managers to say, ‘huh!  Looks like I need to put more energy into this pretty page I’ve created”…Timeline features had nothing to do with it, in my opinion.

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      Scott – you raise some valid points here. We did mix in both “launch partners” who received the attention you describe with brands that didn’t get that additional hype with the intent of beginning to unravel what the impact is. As time goes on, we will continue to update this study and draw further conclusions. 

      • http://mrchrisellis.com/ Chris Ellis

        How does your study compare to this one whichproduced the oposite results? Their sample size was a bit larger at 3,500
        http://edgerankchecker.com/blog/2012/04/how-does-facebooks-new-timeline-impact-engagement

        • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

          Hi Chris – for this initial study we took just a sample set of the early adopters. We plan on updating this study in the future, and will be broadening our data as we go.

  • Gregg Blanchard

    I like the idea, but this research simply doesn’t add up.  For instance, you’re using Ben & Jerry’s as an example but Facebook is using Ben & Jerry’s as a case study for reach generator where they claimed this paid service doubled their engagement.
    Then your question just doesn’t make sense.  You’re showing why Timeline increases engagement but only about 15% of stories are seen on the actual Timeline.  For Red Bull, that would be about 620 actions of their 4100 per post.  So to say that those 620 Wall actions became some 3,600 Timeline actions (to make the 7000 you report) suggests either that Timeline increased engagement by 600% or these brands are using Reach Generator.  My guess is that you’ve got a sample of brands paying for reach post-Timeline.

  • Gregg Blanchard

    I like the idea, but this research simply doesn’t add up.  For instance, you’re using Ben & Jerry’s as an example but Facebook is using Ben & Jerry’s as a case study for reach generator where they claimed this paid service doubled their engagement.
    Then your question just doesn’t make sense.  You’re showing why Timeline increases engagement but only about 15% of stories are seen on the actual Timeline.  For Red Bull, that would be about 620 actions of their 4100 per post.  So to say that those 620 Wall actions became some 3,600 Timeline actions (to make the 7000 you report) suggests either that Timeline increased engagement by 600% or these brands are using Reach Generator.  My guess is that you’ve got a sample of brands paying for reach post-Timeline.

  • http://twitter.com/emcardenas Emma Cardenas

    Any info/stats on how Timeline has affected users interacting with each other? It appears as though those numbers would go down, especially since there are now extra steps to take in order to see what others are posting on the brand wall.

  • http://twitter.com/emcardenas Emma Cardenas

    Any info/stats on how Timeline has affected users interacting with each other? It appears as though those numbers would go down, especially since there are now extra steps to take in order to see what others are posting on the brand wall.

  • AllStarSocialTeam

    Were these data points compared with year-over-year stats (normalized for broader annual trends)?

  • AllStarSocialTeam

    Were these data points compared with year-over-year stats (normalized for broader annual trends)?

  • http://www.communityorganizer20.com/ Debra Askanase

    I understand that your theory as to why these Pages are seeing increases revolves around pinning (gut reaction is that I agree) and featured multimedia. However, did you analyze whether or not pinned posts receive disproportionately more engagement than other posts? Would love those stats pulled out.

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      We don’t have those specific stats to share right now, but will look at including that in future iterations of our study.

  • http://www.communityorganizer20.com/ Debra Askanase

    I understand that your theory as to why these Pages are seeing increases revolves around pinning (gut reaction is that I agree) and featured multimedia. However, did you analyze whether or not pinned posts receive disproportionately more engagement than other posts? Would love those stats pulled out.

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      We don’t have those specific stats to share right now, but will look at including that in future iterations of our study.

  • http://twitter.com/bobledrew Bob LeDrew

    I’m a little concerned that the sampling here is far too limited to draw general conclusions. 15 pages, most of which are massive global consumer brands? 

  • http://twitter.com/bobledrew Bob LeDrew

    I’m a little concerned that the sampling here is far too limited to draw general conclusions. 15 pages, most of which are massive global consumer brands? 

  • http://twitter.com/leyla_a Leyla Arsan

    Have you factored in paid posts? 

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      Unfortunately we don’t have access to that within this data set, but definitely worth looking at exploring in future iterations.

  • http://twitter.com/leyla_a Leyla Arsan

    Have you factored in paid posts? 

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      Unfortunately we don’t have access to that within this data set, but definitely worth looking at exploring in future iterations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erin-Enriquez/557882399 Erin Enriquez

    I agree with many of the other comments here – with the release of Timeline, users are probably just viewing brand pages to see what they’ve done to their Pages, and for marketers, we all went and checked out other major brand pages for the same reason. Thus, engagement increased all around. It’ll be interesting to re-run this analysis later, after the Timeline buzz has died down…and we return to the state where users never view the Page after Liking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erin-Enriquez/557882399 Erin Enriquez

    I agree with many of the other comments here – with the release of Timeline, users are probably just viewing brand pages to see what they’ve done to their Pages, and for marketers, we all went and checked out other major brand pages for the same reason. Thus, engagement increased all around. It’ll be interesting to re-run this analysis later, after the Timeline buzz has died down…and we return to the state where users never view the Page after Liking.

  • Micheline Bourque

    The comments section is as good if not better than the article! Thanks for all of your input. I am particularly anxious to see results that relate to small businesses and how they are managing to gain from their presence on Facebook without paying a bundle. It’s obvious that Facebook will bring results to those who pay, the more the better the results. 

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      Glad you enjoyed the conversation! The small business is an angle worth exploring as well!

  • Micheline Bourque

    The comments section is as good if not better than the article! Thanks for all of your input. I am particularly anxious to see results that relate to small businesses and how they are managing to gain from their presence on Facebook without paying a bundle. It’s obvious that Facebook will bring results to those who pay, the more the better the results. 

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      Glad you enjoyed the conversation! The small business is an angle worth exploring as well!

  • http://www.industrialtraffic.com/ Industrial Traffic

    This is good stuff but also surprising due to how many people are against the timeline. 

  • http://www.industrialtraffic.com/ Industrial Traffic

    This is good stuff but also surprising due to how many people are against the timeline. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaunique.sealey Jaunique Sealey

    Perhaps this is overly simplistic, but could it be possible that the increased engagement reflected by this study is based on the fact that Timeline encourages the inclusion of more visually-engaging content in posts (e.g., high-res photos and/or video) which has already proven to increase engagement even prior to Timeline? So rather that the assumption that Timeline has anything to do with it (because the vast majority of interaction statistically happens within a viewer’s own News Feed, rather than on the Brand Page), could it be just that Page owners are adjusting their posts (i.e., adding more photos and video) in-line with what their understanding of what Timeline is supposed to be used for?   

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaunique.sealey Jaunique Sealey

    Perhaps this is overly simplistic, but could it be possible that the increased engagement reflected by this study is based on the fact that Timeline encourages the inclusion of more visually-engaging content in posts (e.g., high-res photos and/or video) which has already proven to increase engagement even prior to Timeline? So rather that the assumption that Timeline has anything to do with it (because the vast majority of interaction statistically happens within a viewer’s own News Feed, rather than on the Brand Page), could it be just that Page owners are adjusting their posts (i.e., adding more photos and video) in-line with what their understanding of what Timeline is supposed to be used for?   

  • Tania, London

    What do you classify as ‘engagement’?  Do you mean attention?  It’s so tiring reading about how each ad medium is more engaging than another especially when each determine what ‘engagement’ is to suit their needs.  It seems that no-one is doing any robust research anymore!

  • Tania, London

    What do you classify as ‘engagement’?  Do you mean attention?  It’s so tiring reading about how each ad medium is more engaging than another especially when each determine what ‘engagement’ is to suit their needs.  It seems that no-one is doing any robust research anymore!

  • http://twitter.com/fairminder Jim Spencer

    Something new and shiny = more activity. 

  • http://twitter.com/fairminder Jim Spencer

    Something new and shiny = more activity. 

  • Gbacon

    I agree that the timeline makes it easier for fans to engage with the company content but I have a problem with how much it limits fans engagement with each other.

    I go on the Chevrolet Facebook Page and the fans posts are in the corner and only pop-up in a temporary window. It displays only a few of the post and if you click to enlarge a photo you loose your place. I think the timeline will have a negative effect on pages that have enthusiast that like to interact with each other. I would love to see some research on that. 

  • Gbacon

    I agree that the timeline makes it easier for fans to engage with the company content but I have a problem with how much it limits fans engagement with each other.

    I go on the Chevrolet Facebook Page and the fans posts are in the corner and only pop-up in a temporary window. It displays only a few of the post and if you click to enlarge a photo you loose your place. I think the timeline will have a negative effect on pages that have enthusiast that like to interact with each other. I would love to see some research on that. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/edenrudin Eden Rudin

    I am not convinced yet either and I am wondering how soon after the announcement was the info collected. Take a look at Coca Cola LIKE info now – it has gone way down as has other pages that are mentioned. Red Bull has stayed stable but not several others. 

      I think they got some great ‘boosts’ when FB used them as examples at the Facebook Marketing Conference – but it won’t necessarily stay that way. 

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      We were able to take a historical look at what had happened since launch. And we definitely are looking forward to updating our findings as time goes on and things continue to normalize. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/edenrudin Eden Rudin

    I am not convinced yet either and I am wondering how soon after the announcement was the info collected. Take a look at Coca Cola LIKE info now – it has gone way down as has other pages that are mentioned. Red Bull has stayed stable but not several others. 

      I think they got some great ‘boosts’ when FB used them as examples at the Facebook Marketing Conference – but it won’t necessarily stay that way. 

    • http://simplymeasured.com/ Libby S

      We were able to take a historical look at what had happened since launch. And we definitely are looking forward to updating our findings as time goes on and things continue to normalize. 

  • http://www.printmonkey.co.uk/Canvases/ Canvas Prints

    really nice,

    thanks to you and google who redirected to me on this blog

  • http://www.printmonkey.co.uk/Canvases/ Canvas Prints

    really nice,

    thanks to you and google who redirected to me on this blog

  • Martha

    I’m not convinced that adding all those pictures on the Facebook timeline is driving postive time engagement.  I, for one, found it more time consuming to navigate the page and see what people were doing.  Each picture takes a few seconds longer to load and by the time I have gone past a text message, the picture pops up after the fact and I have to go back and look at the picture — and this is on a high speed connection.  I like the pictures, but I don’t like the way Facebooks Timeline has been implemented.
     

  • Martha

    I’m not convinced that adding all those pictures on the Facebook timeline is driving postive time engagement.  I, for one, found it more time consuming to navigate the page and see what people were doing.  Each picture takes a few seconds longer to load and by the time I have gone past a text message, the picture pops up after the fact and I have to go back and look at the picture — and this is on a high speed connection.  I like the pictures, but I don’t like the way Facebooks Timeline has been implemented.
     

  • Desi Trucking

    Desi trucking

    good post

  • Deepti Gwalani

    How was the engagement rate calculated ?