Some face time with Facebook

The social network comes to Bristol

Last week, alongside Bray Leino's media team, we welcomed Facebook account managers Avril and Olly to the office.

Getting face-to-face with Facebook provided a great opportunity to learn more about some of the site’s latest developments (such as Timeline and new ad formats like Page Post Ads), ask questions and share advice and best practice.

Timeline is the latest evolution of the personal profile which, in Facebook’s words, means “you and your friends will finally be able to tell all the different parts of your story – from the small things you do each day to your biggest moments.”

The main change is the layout, which allows you to transform your profile into a kind of dynamic life-diary using a – you guessed it – timeline. This makes it much easier for you and your Facebook friends to browse content from specific eras or events. 

Facebook is even encouraging people to go back in time and fill in their profiles retrospectively, starting at birth (and allowing you to trace back in time, family tree-style, if your parents are on Facebook too).

There’s something quite appealing (probably to the ego) about seeing a set of photos from a birthday party long forgotten, or what your updates from 4 years ago were. 

It looks really straightforward to upload content from the pre-Facebook era too - but the question is whether people will bother to do it. Facebook’s demo video does a great job of showing how profiles could look once they’re populated, which might go some way to motivating you.

Many of you on Facebook will already be aware of another Timeline feature - the new apps updates (called ‘frictionless sharing’) that tell your friends what music you listen to on Spotify, or what article you read on For those who feel a bit self-conscious about their Mariah Carey or X Factor Live Blog habits, you might want to change your sharing settings.

Facebook has given its page insights dashboard an overhaul recently, so we got to quiz our Facebook visitors on how to get the most out of that. 

Months ago Facebook gave us conversion tracking for ads, which worked really well for our publishing clients. Unfortunately, having given us a taste of how great it could be it soon disappeared from the site. Our contacts on the inside said they'd like to have it back soon.

Page Post Ads are such a simple, sensible and straightforward extension to Facebook’s previous ad format offering that it’s amazing they didn’t exist before. 

Driving traffic to specific brand pages on Facebook - you have to be an admin of the page to activate it - these ads use a page post of your choice as content (including photo, video, events and questions), showing potential fans what they can expect if they like your page. 

They have the other targeting benefits of standard Facebook ads of course, and will also tell the viewer if any of their friends already like the page giving you that extra bit of social proof. 

All in all it was a fascinating update on where the platform is going. Facebook - without the benefit of a Google Adwords-esque cash cow - continues to innovate in ways that seem to appeal to most users. 

The enduring question is what users will tolerate privacy-wise versus the amazing data-driven functionality the platform offers.

Thanks to Matt at Bray Leino for arranging the meeting.