Should Brands Be Allowed To Filter Their Facebook Timelines?

Jon Burg
Jon Burg Content Evangelist, Digitas

Posted on January 31st 2012

Should Brands Be Allowed To Filter Their Facebook Timelines?



Facebook's Timeline offers a summary of the user's FB life based on an algorithm that is in my experience, pretty reliable.

Recent rumors suggest that brands may be getting their own Facebook Timelines as soon as the end of February.  This unique platform would pose a number of challenges for a number of major brands, many of whom have invested a good deal of human and financial capital marketing on Facebook.

Many brands would not be thrilled with a summary of their most engaging or active periods on Facebook.  Any brand that has faced a crises or two knows the veracity and volume of their community's outrage, as well as the minimal positive response from the community even when the brand engages the community in the conversation.

Facebook provides users with the ability to the filter or cleanse their timeilnes.  But what about brands?  Will brands have the ability to apply some makeup to their social black eyes?

The Marketer's Perspective

Marketers spend an incredible amount of time, effort and budget building their Facebook presences.  Marketers have not only funded much of Facebook's growth and revenue through their ad dollars, but they have invested a good deal in creating meaningful engagement for Facebook's users on Facebook's platform.

To not provide brands with the ability to pick-and-choose Timeline content would be a slap in the face to these same marketers.  These marketers have often engaged the community in good faith, making everything better over time.  Highlighting these periods of negativity would be unfair to the broader historical story of the brand community.

The Community Perspective

Summarizing a brand's activity includes their community's activity.  Allowing brands to whitewash their past gives them unfair and possibly an unethical advantages, and makes their Timelines less meaningful to users.

Three Possible Win-Win Solutions

  1. Feature the good alongside the bad and the bad alongside the good.  Allow brands to selectively filter their Timelines to include the brand response and engagement with the crises.
  2. Allow brands to selectively purchase advertising within or alongside their Timelines that highlights their engagement related to a crises.
  3. Create two default views - one that is brand filtered and one that is filtered by community engagement.  Brands will have the option of selecting their brand Timeline's default view, but users will always have the option to pivot to their preferred view.

I have a feeling that Facebook will go for the third option.  

Jon Burg

Jon Burg

Content Evangelist, Digitas

Lead marketing and publisher advocacy for Wibiya. Wibiya provides publishers of scale through everyday bloggers with a simple overlay that sends every visitor the optimal, personalized message. Whether it's targeting Facebook users with a Facebook Like bar, returning visitors with a Subscription experience, or showing personalized recommendations to active readers, Wibiya helps publishers get more out of every visitor.

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Interesting post.  With all the new timelines and changes FB has made to the way users connect and consume, it's important for businesses to develop better ways to use Facebook for their clients.  For many brands, focusing on generating Facebook users is not as important as driving users to the business's site.  Businesses may need to make adjustments to their corporate sites to make them engaging.  Facebook isn't a business platform.