Facebook Timeline: What’s the Impact on Brand Engagement?

On March 30th, all brand pages were switched over to Facebook’s timeline format.  How has this affected brand engagement?

A recent Simply Measured study examined 15 brand pages that adopted Timeline early, and found that average engagement (comments and likes) on brand posts rose an impressive 46% in the three weeks immediately following the switch, as reported by eMarketer.

Facebook Timeline: Will It Boost Brand Engagement?However, this doesn’t tell the whole story.  While overall engagement was up after switching to timeline, some larger brands saw less engagement with brand posts.  A March study by Wildfire Interactive examined 43 brand pages over the same time period  (three weeks before the switch to Facebook timeline, and three weeks after), and found that Timeline was more likely to increase engagement for brands with smaller followings on Facebook.

The Wildfire Interactive data looked at engagement results while grouping brands by the amount of overall Facebook “likes:”

  • brands with less than 1 million “likes” that switched to Timeline: 40% rise in comments per brand post, 60% rise in “likes” per post, “People Talking About This” metric rose 67%
  • brands with 1-10 million fans: 17% drop in comments per brand post, 14% rise in “likes” per post, “People Talking About This” increased 29%
  • brands with over 10 million fans: all metrics declined — 17% drop in comments per brand post, 12% drop in “likes,” “People Talking About This” dropped 14%

But according to Facebook analytics tool EdgeRank Checker, the switch to Facebook timeline may have very little impact, period (regardless of brand size).  Edgerank analyzed 3,500 Facebook pages, comparing brands who had made the switch to Timeline (early adopters) and those who hadn’t.  The results? 41% of brands that converted to Timeline saw increased engagement and fans, while 59% of these brands saw a decrease in those metrics.  The data was remarkably similar to those brands that did not convert to Timeline: 38% saw an increase in engagement and fans, while 62% saw a decrease over the same time period.

Edgerank’s conclusion: “This data seems to imply that the Timeline has no direct impact on Engagement for brands.”  Why? The “vast majority of all Engagement takes place within the News Feed” – and switching to Timeline “has no direct impact” on Newsfeed content. Increases in engagement can easily be explained by the amount of press surrounding the switch to Timeline, regardless of whether brands actually did so or not.

So it seems like the jury is still out on exactly how the switch to Timeline will affect brand engagement on Facebook.  What’s your experience been?  Has your brand analyzed the impact (if any) of switching to Timeline?