Why More Brands Should Copy the New York Times’ Facebook Timeline

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New York Times / Facebook

Big companies finally get to experience Facebook the way the rest of us do — with Timeline. While the idea of perusing corporate Facebook pages might not strike most people as exciting, one company is setting an intriguing example for others to follow.

Scroll down the New York Times’ Timeline and you’ll find yourself in 1851, back when the newspaper was called the New York Daily Times. Move up to April 16, 1865 and you will find the headline “AWFUL EVENT: President Lincoln Shot by an Assassin.”

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It only gets more interesting from there. Life Events mark when the paper first started sending stories by wireless transmission and when they coined the slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

Old photos provide glimpses of historic events, from a newsroom of concerned reporters awaiting news of Robert F. Kennedy’s condition to a picture of staffers working by candlelight during the 1977 blackout.

It’s engaging stuff, which I assume will only get better as the Times adds more content. So, how can other brands follow the newspaper’s example?

Sure, not everyone has the rich archives of an aging media institution, but there’s no reason other companies can’t create full, interesting Timelines. I certainly wouldn’t mind looking at old Chrysler ads or checking out photos of legendary actors on-set at Universal Studios.

Surely storied fashion lines such as Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent have immense archives; a Timeline full of vintage photo shoots and fashion shows would be far more interesting than anything on their current websites.

Timeline has the potential to be a huge boon to corporations’ online presences. Before, aside from special offers or maybe a popular viral ad, there wasn’t much of an incentive for consumers to click around on a company’s Facebook page. Now brands have a chance to draw in users like never before — all they have to do is follow the Gray Lady’s lead.

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