Facebook's Timeline – a primer
Published: October 13, 2011
Author: Joe Stanton
The world is about to change – well, the world of Facebook, anyway. Facebook’s influence on social interactions will continue to evolve as the social network rolls out new features. The updates rolling out gradually over the past few months are just warming users up for the biggest platform update since Facebook launched in 2004 – the Timeline layout.
The changes will affect each aspect of Facebook in some way. People who have balked at the most recent updates will definitely have a period of adjustment – but this primer should help preview what’s coming.
New info/updates display
Overall, people and businesses will still be going to Facebook for the same thing, but they will also be able to share more than before. The Timeline will give certain events precedence over others. Users can indicate how significant an event was to them, and that data will be displayed accordingly.
The bandwagon concept will also play a large role in this update. The idea is that if a user is curious about what to do in Chicago, he or she could just look at a friend’s profile, where an album of that friend’s awesome trip would be prominently displayed. If the same user wants a dining recommendation, he/she can simply consult friends’ pages and see where they have been dining. Businesses will certainly begin taking advantage of this. “Tell your Facebook you ate here!” may soon be a common refrain.
By the time Timeline launches, apps will be the hubs for posting daily activity. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated that there hadn’t previously been “a socially acceptable way to express lightweight activity.” Updates like “cooking chicken for dinner” or “went for a run in the park” would fill up your friends’ pages. The development of applications promises to make that type of sharing possible while still being organized.
Facebook holds a lot of information, but it hasn’t been effective in communicating a person’s hobbies, unless he or she takes tons of pictures while pursuing them. The new features will allow the offline parts of people’s lives to be easily recorded and shared. But beware, installing an app like “social reader” will mean that every article you’re reading is put on your profile. A lot of people will embarrass themselves by not paying attention to what they are posting.
The Timeline layout (above) is a lot more open than the current page. Users will scroll down to see past events instead of digging through folders. Everything will be organized chronologically, but events that were more significant will be displayed more prominently. The layout will look very different, and everyone who has been complaining about the current rolling updates will freak out when the timeline finally hits. But the use of the timeline and the apps will create a more accurate picture of what a person is actually like.
The new layout will make it very easy for users to see things that happened a long time ago. Currently, a lot of people have items buried on their Facebooks that they’ve forgotten about. Before, all of these photos have been displayed with the same prominence. When the timeline is activated, the more popular events will be more openly displayed. This could be embarrassing for people who have forgotten how many people commented on that crazy spring break picture from freshman year.
– Joseph Baker is a guest blogger for PPC Associates. He has a wealth of experience in social media, from acclimating corporate America to social marketing trends to developing management strategies for small business using existing social networks.
Questions? Email bloggers at ppcassociates dot com.