Advertisements

Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘timeline

Facebook Timeline Can Help PR Tell the Never-Ending Story

leave a comment »

Facebook logoOne of the theories of communication that has had a big impact on me in graduate school is “narrative theory.” The theory, described in the SAGE Reference service, states that humans are natural story tellers. Using narratives to make sense of the world is so basic to human experience that people can really be described as Homo narrans, or “story-telling human.”

I write this because I think the new Facebook Timeline is a surprisingly powerful way for Facebook to insert itself into the ongoing narratives of its users’ lives.

Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional trip down memory lane? I certainly do, and I must say that combing through my personal information and Wall posts in preparation for the switch to the Timeline resulted in a series of “blasts from the past,” looking at old photos and remembering friendships that have strengthened over tine and those that faded away over the years.

This powerful impact is not limited to individual users. Facebook recently opened up the Timeline format to brands, which makes perfect sense. Narrative flow has always been a powerful tool for advertisers looking to change or strengthen brand loyalty.

The Timeline format also holds promise for public relations practitioners, according to Tonya Garcia of PRNewser. Her article, “Four Reasons PR Pros Will Love Facebook Timeline for Brands,” highlights how public relations can work alongside marketing to help tell and shape the story of their organization. As a company reaches milestones in its growth and development, for example, its Timeline can help strengthen its relationships with stakeholders in a compelling way, establishing contexts and promoting the organization through its unique story.

If we humans are really Homo narrans, then the Facebook Timeline is just the sensible next step in our ongoing evolution, telling a story that never has to end.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Advertisements

Written by Charles Primm

March 15, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Facebook Timeline: Your ‘Long Tail’ is Longer Than You Think

leave a comment »

As Facebook converts more of its user accounts to the new “Timeline” format, we citizens of what the Atlantic magazine terms “Facebookistan” have had to make some hard choices.

The timeline format displays, in chronological order, almost everything a person has ever done on the site, including pictures, links to articles, comments on or “liking” of others’ pictures and articles, and which celebrities and consumer brands they follow.

Facebook gives each person a bit of a grace period—some time to review the information on their timeline before publishing it to the web. For many of us, that means we have had to browse through a great deal of content, perhaps more than we remembered creating.

Looking down my timeline, skimming past all the content I knew I was going to have to edit, I was reminded of “the long tail,” one of my favorite concepts from the realms of both business and communication.

Chris Anderson wrote about the long tail in a Wired magazine article, and described it as a special kind of demand curve.

The Long Tail (image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)In this graph, the green-shaded area to the left represents things that are in high demand, and the yellow-shaded area to the right represents things that are in low demand. The volumes of the two areas are roughly equivalent. In a business context, the aggregate demand for the plentiful low-demand items is around the same as the aggregate demand for the scarce high-demand items.

In editing my Facebook past for public consumption, I discovered that the timeline was looking awfully like a “long tail” as well. There were lots of entries packed into a short time period for the last two years. Beyond that, each month had fewer and fewer items, but the timeline just seemed to stretch on and on and on. I had no idea I’d spent so much of my life in social media.

According to the long tail theory, if I had a dollar for every social media activity I ever engaged in since I signed up for Facebook, I’d be twice as wealthy as if I had just recently signed up. So I think I’ll keep looking in the mailbox for my check from Mark Zuckerberg. I bet it won’t take that long. Not long at all.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm