Facebook will bring its Timeline profile pages to brands this month in the U.S., according to executives briefed on the company's plans.
At its F8 conference in September, Facebook introduced a dramatic transformation of profile pages for its more than 800 million users with the Timeline format, which generates picture-heavy, scrapbook-like collages spanning users' entire history on the social network. It has been rolled out slowly, and users still have the choice to opt in.
At the time of the announcement, the company said it would wait to roll out the new feature for brands. Facebook VP-Marketing and Business Partnerships David Fischer said Timeline for brands would be "consistent" with the Timeline look-and-feel, but not a carbon copy.
The new pages for brands will start in beta with a handful of partners and then be released to more marketers in stages, according to the sources. Facebook declined to comment on the product or the timing.
So what will Timeline for brands look like? For one, the tabs or apps marketers currently host on their Facebook pages to sell products or take polls may turn into boxes on the brand's Timeline, much like how apps for Spotify or Washington Post Social Reader live on users' Timelines.
The format change could put the onus on brands to develop their own apps using custom verbs other than "like," in the same vein as Pinterest, which has a Facebook app that tracks when its users have "pinned" something. Promoting the use and development of "Open Graph" apps, which can have their data tapped for ad targeting, is an area of increased focus for Facebook.
Timeline has significant implications for Facebook fan-page management. One top consideration is that a brand's Facebook presence no longer must date to when it joined the site but can be represented with content populating its Timeline from throughout its history. (Coca-Cola, for example, could hypothetically add an event for 1892, the year it was founded.)
Facebook is expected to go into detail about the new pages at its first-ever fMC event, a day-long conference in New York on Feb. 29 specifically for marketers.
Contributing: Cotton Delo