How Facebook Timeline Works

Other Changes to the Facebook Landscape

It's been said that every social network eventually falls to advertisers and businesses looking to use the Web for free advertising, which becomes spam, which leads to the graveyard. While MySpace has survived, for now, based on its appeal to small bands and individual musicians, the same strategy probably wouldn't work for Facebook.

Before Timeline, businesses and brands were able to establish a Facebook presence (see How To Make A Fan Page On Facebook) with a minimum of fuss, using the "Like" button and other shiny new tricks to establish relationships with their fans and users.

But like any social network, it's important for Facebook to make money from advertisers and businesses in order to keep offering us their free services. So one way Timeline is changing that part of their operations, though it may not be immediately apparent, is by forcing businesses to establish this presence in a more official way. Timeline cover photos -- that's the big splash page you see at the top of your page now -- can't contain certain sales language or "Like" gates anymore, and the focus for businesses' Timelines becomes the same as with any other user: an ongoing story about what that business is doing, where they are now and where they have been.

While the era of free and easy click traffic for pages like this is over, Facebook's new strategy actually helps businesses do what they've been claiming to do all along: build relationships with the consumer, rather than simply advertising to them under the guise of social networking. Being able to explore a company's images, successes and history -- the same way you would a new friend or colleague -- promotes that kind of social interaction with brands at the same time that it makes more money for Facebook, which has defined certain traffic and click-through rules to take back some of the revenue they've generated free for these businesses in the past.