Studies shed some light on Timeline's engagement effectiveness

Since it was introduced, Facebook's Timeline has been a fairly polarizing topic, drawing angst from some traditionalists and praise from some who see the move as a step forward for the social network.

For instance, one downside of Timeline, as revealed by a recent SimpleUsability study, is that many consumers don't view a company's cover image as important, instead seeing it as ad space which they prefer to scroll away from, Search Engine Watch reports. Part of this may be due to Facebook's rules for cover pages, which don't allow for contact information, calls-to-action or anything clickable.

"I just think because it is a banner with a main picture, it just looks like advertising," said one user, as quoted by the news source.

Conversely, users showed increased interest in brands' "About" sections, because they provided information that was "often difficult" to find on corporate websites, the media outlet notes.

Many studies have been released about exactly how Timeline benefits (or reduces) a brand's engagement with a user, with conflicting results. For instance, a separate article by the news source cites a Simply Measured study of 15 early adopter brands, which were found  to have increased engagement by 46 percent once they switched from the old profile page.

However, a similar EdgeRank Checker poll - with a larger sample size of 3,500 pages - found that brand pages actually saw a drop in engagement since Timeline came out.

In all, the media outlet states that Timeline studies have provided a range of engagement increases from 14 percent all the way to 192 percent - or sometimes there was no rise at all. Also, each brands' results depended on factors such as their vertical, size of fan base, users' proximity to the physical store, etc.

The bottom line? There is going to be a variety of conflicting data regarding how to best use Timeline for user engagement, and there is no "magic" formula that brands should abide by.

"The only way to discover what works for your business is to try, test, tweak, rinse and repeat," the media outlet explains.

Taking one study and making it the foundation for a local internet marketing campaign can be dangerous - it's better to look for alternative sources of information and base their legitimacy on the scope, size and source of the study. 

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