Facebook has recently introduced a slew of new features such as the ability to subscribe to another user’s news feed without counting him or her as friend and the ability to define smart lists of close and less close friends. Thank Google + for that!
But the most important Facebook innovation, now officially released, does not owe anything to Google. It’s the new version of Facebook users’ profile called the timeline. The timeline displays along a time line the entire history of a user’s Facebook activities — posts, pictures, likes etc. — since he or she joined Facebook. It’s a great tool for users. Most importantly, it is a great marketing move from Facebook because it creates an environment where the social network can hope to get a even bigger share of life of its users.
On this post I argue that eCommerce sites should take a leaf from Facebook and launch their own customer time line…
The Timeline has created quite a bit of an uproar with a lot of people (in particular people sharing on Google + 😉 ) suddenly realizing how much they had shared on, hence with Facebook.
Facebook’s profiles were supposed to automatically switch to the timeline today but I haven’t seen it happening yet (Oct. 1st 2011, noon EST). It may have been better to let people choose when they wanted to activate their timeline, as I did using the beta release — which gave me the opportunity to I do a bit of content curation. Indeed, the many Facebook hyperactive who share their every mood on Facebook, and especially the ones who made their entire profile public, might be in for a shock when they browse through their past.
Whatever they see that they don’t like, they will be able to delete it. But a lot of people clearly don’t like change and there will be more complaints.
Facebook Gets a Bigger Share of Life
From a marketing point of view, the timeline is not a nice feature, it’s a great feature. It enhances and consolidates Facebook’s most valuable asset: how big a share of their life users entrust Facebook with.
The most interesting person to every one of us is most probably ourselves. The timeline enables Facebook users to go down the memory lane and review their interactions with others in a very self-centered way. Facebook had their information in store; now it found a way to display it in a pleasant and user-friendly interface in order to help users get more value out of it. Users now have one more strong reason to go back to Facebook again and again and to complete the picture of themselves they’d like to keep and share with others.
This, of course, will help Facebook target them even better. That is the point of gaining a big share of life in marketing. A good share of life consolidates the bound between the firm and its customer/user; it enables more relevant communication and better service.
Marketing Lesson for eCommerce Sites
Every commercial site should learn from this move by Facebook and launch their own customer account timeline.
How many retail sites do make the purchase history of their customers available to them in their personal account? How many enable customers to store and easily retrieve their wish list, their multiple delivery addresses, birthday calendar, gift lists, product and merchant reviews? Very very few.
Smart customer account timelines could tell a valuable story to customers and to the merchants that serve them. But very few merchants take the trouble to exploit their customers’ share of life. Most eCommerce sites don’t even recognize you as a customer from one purchase to the next…