Does the new Facebook Timeline really understand human psychology?

Facebook recently rolled out Timeline for Facebook Pages. Pages are most often used by brands, businesses and celebrities to engage with consumers. The chances are that as an entrepreneur you have set yourself up a Facebook Page at some point.

The new Timeline prevents brands (and in this I include small businesses) from setting a default landing page. In other words you can no longer control, in the same way as before, how visitors see you when they land on your Page. The first thing a user will now see is a fluid, ever-shifting Timeline of recent posts and comments.

Well this doesn’t necessarily seem like a bad thing. It encourages us, as a business, to put more effort into “engagement” with our potential customers. In theory Timeline for Pages is great for consumers and, if used properly, for brands too. Overnight Facebook has binned pages and pages of out of date marketing gumpf and forced companies to put more effort into engagement. This, we all say, is what social media is really about.

But is it? Are we missing some psychology here? Are we perhaps assuming that everyone “interacts” with social media in the same way?

When you “like” a Page you will start to receive updates from that Page on your own Timeline. So if you like your local pizza shop, their updates will appear in your feed. There is no need to go anywhere else – your feed will have it all. Or will it?

Exactly how (or perhaps more accurately, ‘why’) this content jumps into your own home feed is a closely guarded Facebook secret. But what they will reveal, is that it’s linked to how often users have liked and commented on a particular brand’s posts before.

So this means if you want to continue to receive updates from the local pizza shop – you have to keep “liking” and replying to their posts.

For some people this is great – they love all the interaction and making their views known, but for others it’s a just a pain in the neck. Many customers of the pizza shop won’t feel the need to keep “talking” to the pizza shop and interacting with them, but they would be happy to see their updates appear in their home feed, and might notice that a new pizza sounds tasty, or there is a 10% offer. Then guess what they will do? Go buy a pizza! Isn’t this really what the pizza shop wants? Or is it really after Facebook likes and comments? As a business owner I know which I’d rather have.

Many people tend to passively interact rather than actively interact with brands on Facebook, but Facebook ignores this and decides that it will remove the updates from their home feed. They didn’t decide, Facebook decided.
I like social media, I enjoy using it, but like 1000s of other people I use it slightly differently than it was perhaps intended. I don’t respond to every post, I am not “liking” every few minutes, but I do enjoy looking through my home feed and keeping up to date.

So has Facebook got it wrong? Is it ignoring the fact that we are all different and like to “interact” in different ways?

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About Chantal Cooke;
Chantal is an award winning journalist and broadcaster. She has been using social media to promote her work since 1996 and has been helping clients harness its power for the last 3 years. Chantal combines her journalistic skills – to create compelling and engaging content – with her knowledge of social media platforms. Together this delivers an effective social media strategy that works for both the client and the audience. Chantal believes that using social media is not about creating noise, it’s about creating content and then delivering that content to a targeted audience in a format they wish to engage with. See:

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