How Does Facebook’s New Timeline Impact Engagement?

There have been reports released regarding the impact of Timeline on brands’ Engagement. Timeline does not impact content within the News Feed, where a vast majority of Engagement takes place. These studies seem misleading, and confusing, so we investigated the issue with our own data using a significant sample size of over 3,500 pages.

Timeline Median Engagement/Fan Change

We examined over 3,500 Pages to figure out the impact Timeline has had on Engagement. To increase accuracy, we examined when each Page converted to Timeline between 2/29 – 3/26, and used this time frame to analyze Eng/Fan. For any Page that converted between this time frame, we used the switch date until 3/26 to compile “Converted” data. We created a control group of Pages that did not switch over the same time period. We compared this data against the same group of Page’s performance from 1/1 – 2/28 (the “before” period).

What We Found
Regardless of switching to Timeline or not, the typical Page experienced a decrease in Eng/Fan. Pages that switched to Timeline experienced a slightly smaller loss (-11.57% vs -10.12%). This slight variation is most likely due to the larger brands that received excessive promotion during this same time period. We believe this is not an indicator of a long term trend.

We examined the percentage of Pages that experienced an increase or decrease of Eng/Fan over this same time period. Both the control group (No Conversion) and the Pages that converted to Timeline experienced nearly identical ratios. Roughly 60% of the Pages analyzed experienced a Decrease, while roughly 40% experienced an increase. It should be noted that converted Pages did experience slightly better results again, however, the difference is minimal.

How many Pages Experienced A Decrease/Increase?

This data seems to imply that the Timeline has no direct impact on Engagement for brands. As a vast majority of all Engagement takes place within the News Feed, this data is not surprising as Timeline has no direct impact on content within the News Feed.

It appears that a majority of Pages experiencing abnormal changes in Engagement/Fan is due to the publicity that has occurred since the implementation of Timeline. Many high profile blogs are discussing the changes, how to use it, and which brands are using Timeline best.

What Does This Mean Going Forward?
Brand managers can rest assured that they are not experiencing significant losses when switching to Timeline. Nearly all Engagement takes place on the News Feed, not on the Page itself. Regardless of how Facebook changes the appearance of a Page, this should rarely have a significant impact on Engagement. This also suggests that Brand Managers must continue to focus on optimizing Engagement within the News Feed as usual.

18 Comments on “How Does Facebook’s New Timeline Impact Engagement?

    • Chad Wittman

      Glad we’re on the same page. Thanks for sharing the study, we’ll check it out!

  1. Kim

    I’ve seen a nice increase in the engagement on my page since switching to timeline. I switched very early. It may just be a coincidence and be that the time spent building relationships is showing up. Great article….thanks!

    • Chad Wittman

      We appreciate the input!

  2. We saw an increase of 40% following the switch of a B2C brand page we manage. There was no change in cadence, topic or strategy. The only change was in the way that Facebook displayed the content; more visually. There was no promotion or press around the update. I’m wondering if we all need to dig deeper and analyze the type of content that’s being published. If brands are using nice, clear images to tell their story, I think they’ll see the increased engagement.

    To read the full results of our analysis:

    Kristen Sussman
    President, Social Distillery

    • Chad Wittman

      That’s awesome! It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses moving forward. Thank you for sharing.

  3. That is quite interesting. I’m seeing a distinct reduction in the number of reach on posts, with what appears to be a distinct reduction at a specific date.

    In recent weeks our page has had very strong growth in fans (some of the highest we have seen), even whilst reach on posts have reduced.

    I get the impression that FaceBook is tweaking the EdgeRank post formulas and this may be causing the reduction in reach. (The sceptic in me thinks it could be a way to “encourage” more people to spend money on advertising with sponsored posts!).

    Most of our posts are links to YouTube clips, so there is a reasonable amount of consistency on type of content.

    If I look at March, from 1 March to 26 March each video post would have reach of approx. 500,000 – 750,000 people. From 27 March each video post would have reach of less then 100,000 with the highest post reaching about 215,000.

    Posts are generally made around the same time and have similar types of calls to action. We generally do 2 posts per day.

    Likes, comments and shares also reduced on the above mentioned date.

    In the past we have noticed changes and things appear to return to “normal” or even better than “normal”, but none of the past reductions have been this significant.

    We changed our page to timeline on the last possible day (being 31 March), so I don’t believe the reduction in reach relates to timeline. We have never used any paid sponsorship/advertising for this page.

    Has anyone else experienced a reduction in reach and interaction?

    • Chris Cassella

      Interestingly,, we saw a similar impressions drop around March 27 with a corresponding growth in fans from Facebook Recommendations. I think it is a Facebook plan to get page owners to sign up for their new Reach Generator service, which guarantees a reach of 75% of your fans each month:

      • Chad Wittman

        A vast majority of brand owners will not be able to qualify for Reach Generator. From what we’ve heard, ad budget on Facebook will need to exceed at least $10k/month, post frequency between 5-9 posts per week, and organic reach can not exceed 30% to be eligible.

        Reach Generator will be for the 1% of brands on Facebook.

    • Chad Wittman

      Thanks for sharing your experience, we’ll be doing a more comprehensive follow up in the near future. Hopefully that will help.

  4. M

    What about 3rd party apps and engagement on Timeline?

    • Chad Wittman

      We haven’t study that yet since the implementation of Timeline. Sounds like a good study to me…

  5. Good post. One question: How do you define/measure engagement/fan?

    • Chad Wittman

      (Likes + Comments) / Fans (at time of post)

  6. and from what I’ve heard anything done with the Reach Generator can be done by any individual. Reach Generator was created as a VIP service for the big spenders.

  7. Wojciech Szywalski

    Great post. Thanks Chad. I am looking for continuation ;)

    Everyone here agreed that timeline doesn’t impact on news feed however brand managers/admins do. What I mean is that before Timeline introduction fan pages were rather boring to explore so inviting fans to explore brand sites became not a very common habit.

    Right now we can however invite people to dig through brand’s Timeline which is completely new, reach, experience but still many page managers do not use it, cultivating their “old mantra”.

    So I would love to see such a comparison of engagement as a function of “invitation phrases” use in communication process on pages themselves in a time span as far as possible from end of Feb 2012 – there was a lot of natural buzz about Timeline which should be taken as a noise in an experiment of this kind.


  8. As much as I love Timeline the fact that the posts by fans are almost hidden away bothers me. Especially Pages that function more like a community hub are suffering.
    I hope FB will fix this soon to promote more fans actively interacting with Pages
    (without sneaking tags into their posts #hint :-) )

  9. Rodel

    i’m not sure if this true to all pages or pages that originated in SEA countrys. fact is, majority of my fans would love to interact more with the comments of their fellow fans not with what i posted as admin. and with the current format, people hates to click another tab or link just to see the entire comments from other fans. people in my country loves to read and comment on other peoples experience. so if you can provide an option to have it in single column then we can compare results but i’m sure that you’ll end up revising this research and results

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