Facebook’s Timeline is a point of contention as far as its ‘frictionless sharing’ is concerned but in terms of online marketing it is going to make a lot of website owners very happy. Facebook has been successful through the spread of its ‘Like’ button in Facebook Connect which allowed you to use your Facebook profile in order to log onto a website, sometimes to make a purchase or to become a member or, simply, to comment.
With Timeline you have to go through the same login in process but now the sharing you do is much more expanded than before with Facebook’s Timeline, depending upon your privacy settings, showing where you have been, what you are doing as well as what you actively share. While it’s still very early days and we shall have to wait and see what uptake this will generate, in principle, this is a radical move. It turns Facebook’s data pipe from a garden variety hose to a full-blown fire hose capable of delivering an incredible amount of personalised, interlinked data to Facebook.
To illustrate the potential I will use an example with HelpMySEO. Right now if you see an article which you like and which you think adds value to your online conversation in your social circles, or can be used to start a conversation, you share it in your Facebook profile (a classic example of this was the sharing which went on in Facebook for Social Media and the Future of Capitalism which was shared dozens of times. Provided I subscribe to Facebook Connect and ask you to become a member in order to comment on my site, the moment you do so, your reading activity of specific articles will become visible on your Facebook profile. As will any other activity on my site.
This has the potential to change the amount of data broadcast about you and this site from a ‘Like’ or a Facebook share to an entire list of actions which are shared amongst your network of Facebook friends. For an online marketer this is good news. It does mean that at least in the short-term, there will be increased sharing of data within Facebook, which means increased exposure within the Facebook ecosystem and, by degrees, increased traffic.
A certain portion of that traffic will be public (which means it will be indexed by Google) and though Google, at present is playing hardball with Facebook and Twitter as far as the weight it gives to their public social signals, they do accumulate and at some point will become vitally important. This is without taking into account the increased traffic (itself a good thing) and the fact that those who Facebook brings to your site may well choose to share your content through other means (Twitter and the all-important G+) which is an additional help. And I hope, at this point, that you have included on your website, on each page, some kind of social sharing buttons.
To take advantage of Facebook Connect you will need to work with a developer to install their API in a way that fits in with your particular web platform. More information on this is here.
Increased traffic of course does not come without a price. Facebook’s vision of the web is different from Google’s. Find out some of the details about that in Facebook vs Google: The Battle for the Web.