Facebook Timeline 101

If you haven’t switched your Facebook page to the new timeline feature, your time is running out. Over the next few weeks, Timeline says it will be rolling out the feature to everyone who hasn’t made the switch. You’ll see a notification at the top of your home page, and get seven days to make adjustments. So, I decided to act now so I can help you with the changes.

Facebook Timeline 101
1. Stop procrastinating. Find seven days in the next few weeks where you can focus on Timeline.  Wouldn’t you like to determine when you make the switch rather than letting Facebook decide? What if you are swamped when Facebook decides to start your seven day window? Stop delaying. Carve out seven days now so you’re sure to get that Timeline looking the way you want others to see it.

2. Click here to activate Timeline on your own.

3. Instantly, Facebook converts your profile into a Timeline. Remember, it will only be visible to you for the first 7 days unless you hit “Publish Now.” During the trial, you can add or hide anything you want.

4. First, I added a cover. This is the picture you want profiled. Pick a good one, because it’s large. I originally had a vertical photo, but the cover space is more wide than tall so I think a horizontal photo works best. You can tweak the picture a little, but not enough in my opinion for a vertical photo.

Uploading a new photo takes some time, but it happens so be patient.

You want your cover photo to be different than your profile picture as that will appear in a box to the lower left of the cover photo.

5. Now, it’s time to review your posts on your Facebook Timeline. Hover over a story or post and click the star icon to feature an item and make it widescreen.

When you do this, it disrupts the flow a bit but experiment and see if you like it. It’s easy to minimize if you don’t like it. The pencil icon will allow you to hide or delete a post.

6. Facebook decides which posts will be part of your timeline and which ones will be hidden.When there is a post along your timeline, there is a dot. Look closely. Some of these dots are not associated with any posts because the dot represents a hidden When you notice this, hover over the dot  and you can see what the post says that’s hiding. While hovering, you can decide if you want to feature it or add it to your timeline.

7. Go to the upper right corner just under the cover photo and click on the Activity Log. It’s a way to manage everything you share on Facebook and it’s private. On you see the log.  Here, you can control what hits your Timeline and who sees it.

It’s much more obvious who is seeing your posts with this activity log. I recently discovered on the old Facebook profile that even if your page is private, people can see your wall posts that you made on other people’s pages and are thus subject to their privacy policies. Now, with the activity log it’s easy to control which posts are public and who actually sees them. For example, a wall post about a friends birthday showed me that all his friends can see that. It might not seem like a big deal for a birthday, but on a more sensitive post be careful if you want to keep certain aspects your life private. Having a private profile doesn’t mean everything is private. The activity log really makes this easy to follow.

An open circle on the activity log means it’s allowed on your timeline and a circle with a line through it means it’s hidden.

For more about the activity log, I highly recommend you read the Facebook explainer for more tips and tricks.

8. Map your pictures. You’ll notice the map just below your cover photo. Click on it, and you’ll be taken to a large screen of map with pictures above it. I was amazed at how many are already mapped. Things you think Facebook doesn’t know about you but really does because someone checked you into a place or previously tagged the location of a photo.

When you try to add the location of some photos, Facebook doesn’t always know where that location really is. For example, I took a girls trip to Belize recently, and Facebook mapped it in Houston, Texas.  See below.

It had one picture mapped correctly in Belize, but another friend tagged it with the name of the place we stayed. If you go generic and just do the city like Placencia, Belize it may not show up in the right place especially if it’s a different country.

It’s an interesting feature, but I think it tells a little too much about you. I think I’ll proceed with caution. I don’t mind telling people where I’ve been, but not where I am. It’s clearly a way for Facebook to get more users to use the Places feature so it might be hard to control if friends tag you as being at that place while you’re still there. For me, it’s sort of like Foursquare especially since any changes to your map are added to your News Feed. I understand social media is meant to be social and allow you to gather in places outside the Internet, but this is a little bit too much information if used and broadcast while you’re visiting that “Place.”

Overall impression
Overall, Timeline is not as intimidating as you might think. It just takes some time to go through your posts and make sure the ones you want featured are visible, and the ones you don’t want people to see are not visible. This is really time consuming if you are a frequent poster, don’t filter your posts, or you have been on Facebook for an extended period of time.

Also, make your uploaded pictures are good ones because they are quite large and prominent in Timeline. Pictures associated with a link remain about the same size.

I’m not a fan of the layout as I think it’s a bit sloppy as it Timeline’s your life, but it has some good features that really suck you into the site and get you to spend more time there.  For me, it’s much more obvious how much Facebook knows about you so it helps guide you in controlling how much information you publicize.

I’ve talked with friends who’ve had the Timeline feature for some time, and they like it. So, give it a try. Soon you won’t have a choice.

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What do you think? Have you found a useful feature you’d like to share? Click comment below.