There are mixed feelings out there about the new Facebook Timeline that is about to be rolled out. I installed the BETA version a few weeks ago and have been getting comfortable with it. As a Certified Social Media Specialist, I need to be able to advise my clients on how to handle it when it is rolled out to the masses. This release is one of the most significant changes Facebook has made to the personal profile in a long time. And while Facebook wants to be at the centre of your online identity, many people find this new release to be intrusive and over the top. I found some great features in this and for the first time in a long time, I had to revisit my security settings on Facebook and make some adjustments to feel comfortable with the way information will be shared. Here are 5 important points about Facebook’s new Timeline. Please note that the new changes coming to Facebook affect only your personal profile. Facebook has not made any announcements or commitments regarding Facebook Business Pages.
The ticker has already been rolled out and you will see this along the right side of your screen when logged into Facebook. It is essentially activity stories that get posted to the ticker. By placing your curser over a specific item in the ticker area, you will get what they call a ‘hover card’ with more information regarding that particular activity. What I like about it, is that not only personal page but fan page activity shows up here. By paying attention to the ticker, I have been able to connect with some people and pages I might have otherwise missed. You can also now streamline the activity you want to see from the people you are connected with and shut out some of the noise. What I don’t like about it, is that you have to pay particular attention to each activity update you post to ensure the right people see it. You will also want to revisit your application settings and perhaps change the update status to be ‘only you’ that sees it or your app activity will also be shared in the ticker.
If you haven’t already put your friends in lists, now would be a good time to revisit this. You can create different lists and place your friends in one or more appropriate list; family, friends, business, etc. (you can have the same person in more than one list). On your home page, you will then be able to view the news feed from a particular list. As before, you will also be able to send out Facebook status updates to a specific group of people (ie friends) or to a targeted list. Facebook has also introduced smart lists. You’ll see smart lists that create themselves and stay up-to-date based on profile info your friends have in common with you–like your work, school, family and city. You will also be able to merge your existing list to an appropriate smart list.
3. Subscribe Button
This is relatively new on Facebook and in my opinion more designed for public figures. If you set this feature up on your Facebook profile, you can allow others to subscribe to your public updates. This information will show up in peoples’ ticker and news feed. There is a little overlap between having your personal profile with subscribe enabled and a fan page. If you are a business owner however, I still recommend having a Facebook business page over using the subscribe option. Your business page allows you access to custom tabs and applications, Facebook stats, you can have more than 1 page admin and you can promote the page with ads etc. whereas the subscribe button does not allow any of these features.
4. Timeline (the Wall)
Timeline is the new term for your wall. When you think about your current Facebook wall, you know that as you add new items, the old items ‘fall’ off the page. Many of the important moments of your life disappear into the archive. Facebook’s answer to this is the new timeline which is really scrapbooking on steroids. You will be able to enter important moments in your life and feature them on a timeline that is easily accessible. It appears to have been designed for the younger demographic however. Many young people today will share just about anything. When the new timeline is rolled out, you will see some of the events that Facebook encourages you to add. Some make sense, like the year you started work or opened your business, moved to a new city etc., but some of the other categories like ‘changed eating habits’, ‘got glasses or contacts’ or ‘broke a bone’ leave me scratching my head! Facebook would like you to give them much more information than ever before. Why? To be able to feed the advertisers of course!
I personally will not be filling out the majority of the information. There is a security issue here I would like to bring to your attention and it pertains to filling out exact dates. If you plan on entering a timeline for the birth of one of your children for example, you will have to give them the entire date for it to appear on the timeline. This is a security risk for identity theft. So please be careful.
5. Your Cover
There will be a big blank space at the top of your new profile that you will be able to fill. It is a placeholder for an image and it’s called the cover. You’ll see it in the image above for Mark Zuckerberg’s profile. He chose to showcase his dog ‘Beast’. There is a specific dimension for this image – 850×312. Look to this as a great opportunity to brand yourself! Get creative! I have seen some fabulous ones and I had fun creating mine. You won’t see mine though unless you have the beta version of Timeline until it has been rolled out to the masses.
There are other significant changes; things like the application directory and how Facebook will be working with developers to allow seamless integration. Unfortunately many of these applications are not available here in Canada yet, so I haven’t been able to test them. Stay tuned for more as they become available.
The bottom line here is not to be too excited when this new Facebook version arrives on your screen. Take time to check your security settings, be mindful of how much personal information you share and explore the new features to see how you can streamline it to make it work for you. Don’t get me wrong. There is still a lot of merit to using Facebook, particularly if you are a business owner whose target market is on Facebook. Feel free to ask questions or get help if needed.
I have adopted Mari Smith’s approach to putting information out there. Ask yourself these three questions:
1. Would I be comfortable if this information were to show up on the front page of the New York Times?
2. Would I be comfortable if this information came up in a Google search?
3. Would my mom be proud of this if she saw it online?
If you can answer yes to these three questions, then you are probably OK sharing the information.
What do you think? I love getting feedback. Here on this blog, you’ll get commentluv. This is a great opportunity to leave a link back to you own blog when you leave a comment.
Until next time, Joanne
While physically located in Newmarket, Ontario, where Joanne resides with her family, she is virtually yours, anywhere.