Music

MUSIC TECH: Facebook’s Timeline is Bad News for Artists. 3 Things You Can Do About It

by Winston "Stone" Ford

Quietly over the past week Facebook announced that is will transition fan pages to it’s Timeline format on March 30th. Yes, the same format that is used for your personal Facebook page will now be used for your artist page. Why is this a bad thing? Because at the end of the day it provides LESS engagement for fans rather than more.

You know why MySpace won back in the day? Because it was a simple way for artists to not only connect with thier fans, but share music, tour dates and sell merch from one page. Even though the site has it’s issues it’s still the most cohesive way to popularize your music. It was built for musicians in mind. Faecebook on the other hand is built to connect to your high school and college friends and still can’t figure out it’s music platform. The change to timeline shows this. Sure, artists who are already established have no problems with it, but what about upcoming artists? Unfortunately their music takes a back seat.

What Are the Problems?

If you have an app like ReverbNation, RootMusic, Fanbridge, you will no longer have the ability to set the app as a default landing page. Users will now have to click on the app image on the Timeline toolbar to access Tour Dates and music. Those dedicated apps will now show up in a different page. This

Also, if you did any type of custom page with FBML that work seems to be null and void. Facebook Timeline dosen’t give the ability to run your custom applications on the default page, yet they should work fine in their dedicated pages.

What Can You Do Now?

But alas, it’s Facebook’s world, we only live in it. So what can you do now?

Preview your fan page. At the top of your fan page, you have the ability to preview the new Facebook Timeline page design to make any adjustments or changes. When you click the preview button, the design will only be available to the admins of your page and not your fans. This is the essential first step in making sure that your applications and custom code are ready for the new changes.

Get Visual. One of the better aspects of the new timeline design is the ability to use a Cover Page. This graphic can integrate designs from your album (like Tune Yards did above) or can also act as a digital flyer to promote upcoming shows. As the main element that fans will see when they first get to the page, a greater emphasis is placed on this visual element so getting your graphics in line is crucial. Don’t just use this space for a bigger picture of your band. Get creative.

UPDATE: I’m heraring from a couple of sources that there are new rules set up for cover pages. From All FB:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40 percent off” or “Download it at our website.”
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section.
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features.
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

Engage. Obviously Facebook pushed the Timeline for brands because they believed that static landing pages were diluting fan engagement. And honestly I was getting tired of apps that required me to “like” a page before accessing content. The upside to all of this is that it does open up an opportunity to engage your fans more than ever. Connect as many accounts to your page as possible–Twitter , Soundcloud, and Instagram for starters. Treat engagement on Facebook to how you treat your Twitter account, with lively status updates, videos, and photo streams.

You can make a post on your Timeline “sticky,” so obviously you would want to use this for new video and album releases. The new timeline also gives you the ability to message fans directly, although like Twitter DMs you might want to proceed with caution!

Conclusion

Unfortunately as an artist, making your music sometimes takes a backseat to promoting it and gaining fans. The Facebook Timeline requires some work on your part, however use this as an opportunity to engage your listeners, instead of just trying to acquire likes and email addresses. More on Facebook’s changes to come.