The addition of “Milestones” is one of the more noteworthy changes to Facebook Pages with Timeline. Most companies have used the feature to mark notable dates in the life of the business, but The New York Times has taken a much broader approach.
The traditional red-letter days — the newspaper’s founding, name changes, moving to new offices, and the like — are noted, but the paper has also launched a series within the feature called “Inside the Times.” These milestones show archival photos of the newsroom, both during important moments in history and during the daily routine. The coverage for the sinking of the Titanic is recognized, but so are the printers and writers going about their regular duties.
But a newspaper’s history is tied to national and global history, which the Times has reflected. It has noted important dates with images of that day’s paper with milestones titled “On This Day.” From Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, with the famously simple headline “Awful Event,” to the withdrawal of the last American troops from the Vietnam War more than one hundred years later, the Times has made its Facebook Page a source of information for more than its own history.
Inventive Use of Imagery
Visual content is more important than ever in the Timeline layout, and the Times has made excellent decisions about how to integrate photos into the platform. The first one you’ll notice on visiting the Page is the cover photo. We recognized the Times on Sprout Insights once before for its cover photo showing the staff in its newsroom, but since then, the company has made some changes.
In May, the paper began updating its cover photo to show images of its own journalists at work in the field. The first image for this mini-series was a snap of writer C.J. Chivers in Afghanistan, and it currently shows photographer Bill Cunningham shooting from a bike in Times Square.
Regular status updates are usually accompanied by striking images as well. Whether the post is about world news, sports, or lifestyle, the paper’s Facebook Page takes full advantage of its photographers’ handiwork. Most companies use traditional product photos to accompany their statuses. The Times is able to focus on evocative images to promote its work, mixing current shots with stills from the archives.
Subtly Encouraging Sharing and Purchases
Most of the Times’ status updates are links to stories on its official website. The text of these updates is clearly chosen to encourage click-throughs. Some posts focus on interesting facts and figures from the story; one status every day is dedicated to a noteworthy news quote. They are clear hooks designed to intrigue readers, providing a glimpse of the vast array of content behind a pay wall.
Since the managers of the Facebook presence have the entire day’s stories to choose from, they can maintain a large volume of daily posts across a wide range of topics. This appeals to a broader demographic. It also helps increase the company’s chances for shares, Likes, and comments on its material. For example, it shared a post from the paper’s Food section with a summer cocktail recipe, accompanied by a photo of the brilliantly colored drink. That post was shared more than 1,000 times, and generated more than 3,000 Likes!
Do you know of a company that’s a rock star on Facebook Timeline? Let us know in the comments!
[Image credit: Adam Kinney]