Facebook has unveiled Timeline for brands, and with the new design there are serious implications for engagement between brands and their fans. Will we lose the communities we have worked so hard to create?

When consumers visit a Facebook Page, they will see what their friends, and people the subscribe to, are saying about the brand. Friend activity is only visible to people included in the post’s audience, and the audience icon in the upper-right corner distinguishes these posts from those by a brand.

This could be beneficial for consumers because they get to see how their friends are interacting with a brand. However, looking at the brands that have enabled Timeline I mostly saw interactions from 4-6 months ago and they had little relevance beyond the loose friend connection I had.

All other posts are aggregated up to the “Recent Posts by Others” box on a Page. This means that unless a consumer clicks on “more posts” to explore other conversations – the only way for consumers to interact with each other will be within the news feed.

While this may be a benefit for brands with a lot of negative conversation, it seems like a loss for fans who enjoy creating new connections and engaging in other conversations. The benefit of marketing on Facebook was the ability to actively connect with your consumers and key influencers.Facebook also gave brands the opportunity to create a community around their brand and mission. With the new Facebook Page design, it appears the Timeline view restricts the opportunity to build that community.

Instead of encouraging engagement, Facebook may actually be discouraging it. I hope Facebook has considered this and that brands won’t need to rely on their “premier” products (advertising) to retain the level of engagement we are accustomed to.

Brands have the option to remove the Recent Posts by Others box from your Page’s timeline. In order to remove the box, follow these directions:

  1. Open your Page’s admin panel
  2. From the Manage menu, select Edit Page
  3. Uncheck the box next to Show the box for “Recent Posts by Others” on the top of Page in the Post Visibility section of the Manage Permissions tab
  4. Click Save Changes

Facebook has a complete guide on how to show posts only from your page, and covers questions on the most popular features about the new Page design for brands.

If anything, the introduction of Timeline to Facebook Brand pages means that News Feed Optimization is even more important to ensure your content is seen.Social media marketers will need to embrace Facebook EdgeRank and value quality over quantity.

Do you think Timeline could discourage engagement between brands and their consumers, and consumer-to-consumer? Share your thoughts below.