Facebook Timeline Changed the Way We See Brand Pages

When Facebook launched Timeline for brands last month, it wasn’t just marketers’ social media strategies that got turned upside down.

The new format also changed the way consumers experience brands on Facebook.

In a webcam eye-tracking study for Mashable byEyeTrackShop, participants spent less time looking at Wall posts and ads and more time looking at the cover photo on brands’ timelines than they did on their old Facebook Walls.

“The new Facebook Timeline limits the effective branding space, and the top portion of the page must be effectively utilized,” suggest the study’s authors.

EyeTrackShop recorded eye movements of 30 participants as they were shown brand profiles — before and after being converted to timeline — from the Dallas Cowboys, Good Morning America, “The Muppets” and Pepsi in 10-second intervals. What participants looked at on each webpage, for how long and in what order is recorded in the images below.

Results suggests a few ways our perception of Brands on Facebook has changed:

  • Ads on Facebook Timeline are less visible than ads on Facebook Brand Pages. While 30%-40% of study participants looked at ads on brand Timeline pages, 80% looked at them on Brand Pages. In both cases, ads placed higher up on the page fared better than those below them.
  • Cover photos are the new Facebook Wall (at least as far as attention goes). On brand pages, Wall posts were the star attraction. Viewers on average looked at them first and for the longest amount of time.

    On the brand Timelines, however, viewers always looked at the cover photo first. In all but one case, they spent a longer time looking at it than at Timeline content.

  • Everyone will notice your cover photo. It’s larger than anything else and at the top of the page for a reason, and 100% of viewers looked at it. On average, they saw it in 0.5 seconds or less. Meanwhile, only 65% to 92% of viewers noticed profile photos on Brand Pages.
  • Viewers see Timeline content last. In every case, viewers looked at either the left or right column of Timeline content last — after ads, navigation buttons and brand logos.
  • Information that was invisible is now a focal point. Facebook moved the number of Likes, events and apps to prime top-and-center territory. It now gets more attention than when it was listed on the right-hand side of the page.

    In the case of Good Morning America, for instance, the show’s 585,000 Likes went from being completely ignored on its Brand Page to being the biggest attention-getter on its Timeline.

  • Cover photos with faces attract the most attention. Good Morning America and “The Muppets” have cover photos with faces, whereas the Dallas Cowboys and Pepsi do not. The cover photos with faces attracted more attention.

Take a look at the results of the study in the gallery, and let us know your own observations in the comments.

Dallas Cowboys: Visual Attention Level

Areas that were looked at most are shown in red on the heat map. In the Timeline, viewers concentrated more of their time at the top of the page.

Facebook Brand Timelines vs. Old Pages: How People View Them Differently


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