Facebook: Your Time for Timeline?

Facebook is making big changes to the way the world sees you.

Facebook Timeline was introduced recently to replace your Profile Page and present your information in a more creative and organized way. With traditional Profile Pages, your older posts were difficult, if not impossible to find. Timeline arranges your posts in a linear fashion so people can look back over the years to see what you’ve been doing.

Timeline is optional for now; Facebook is rolling it out slowly by making people sign up to add it to their accounts. But eventually everyone will have a Timeline so you should get to know what it is, what it can do for you and how your Facebook experience is destined to change.

What is Timeline?

Timeline is a new feature that arranges your posts, Likes, photos, videos, apps and other information in a way that makes your life seem like a magazine or digital scrapbook. Everything you’ve ever done on Facebook is organized chronologically, indexed to the year it was posted. No additional information is added by Timeline, but the new format makes it much easier for others to see what you’ve posted.

How Can You Get Timeline?

Facebook will eventually bring Timeline to all of its members, but if you want to get it now, you don’t have to wait. Go to www.facebook.com/about/timeline and enable the feature by clicking on the Get Timeline button.

After you sign up you have seven days to preview your Timeline before it’s published. You can go back to your old Profile Page during those seven days. If you don’t want to wait, you can publish it right away.

What Can You Do with Timeline?

You can have fun with Timelime by making the most of its features.

Cover – You can add a cover photo to your Timeline by clicking on the Add a Cover button at the top of the Timeline. The photo will be the first thing people see when they look at your Timeline so choose it carefully. The photo can be of your recent travels, family members, your beloved pet or other subjects that tell the world who you are. This photo is different from your profile picture which remains on the lower left corner of the cover. You can change the cover picture later by hovering your cursor over the photo and a Change Cover button will appear.

About – This tells your friends (or the world, depending on your privacy settings) all about you: education, friends, employment history, family members, contact information, and any other information you’d like to share.

Featured Posts – Information shared on Timeline is spread over two columns, but if you want a post to get attention, click on the star button in the upper right corner of the post. This will make it a Feature Post and spread it across both columns of your Timeline, making it easier for visitors to see.

Go Back in Time – Don’t let the day you joined Facebook be the start of your Timeline. You can add photos from earlier days (your first baby picture, perhaps?) to chronicle your life from the beginning.

What About Privacy?

Timeline doesn’t change your Privacy settings on Facebook, but there are some privacy options you should review.

First, you can adjust your privacy settings so that any posts before your Timeline was published can only be viewed by your friends. You can access this through the drop-down menu in the upper right corner of your screen:

Privacy Settings => Limit the Audience for Past Posts => Manage Post Visibility => Limit Old Posts

Second, you can review your old posts and change the privacy setting for each one individually.

What If You Don’t Like Timeline?

If you prefer Profile Pages you can keep yours as is, for a while. At some point, Facebook will be switching everyone over to the Timeline format. When that happens (the date has not yet been announced) you’ll have two choices:

  1. Live with it or
  2. Quit Facebook

Assuming you’re going to choose Option 1, consider activating Timeline before Facebook does it for you. Since visitors to your Timeline will be able to navigate easily through all of your posts, you may just want to take a second look at them to see if there are some you would rather not have others re-visit.

Embrace the Inevitable

Even if you dread the day when Facebook will impose this change upon you, learn to love the new design. Here‘s a link to 40 creative Facebook covers that may change your mind: Creative Facebook Timeline Covers.

Use the tools listed at Internet and Blogging Resources to help you design your own creative Facebook Cover so your Timeline can be the envy of all your friends: Best Facebook Timeline Profile Cover Creators.

Have you switched over to Facebook Timeline? Are you excited about the change? Are you dreading people finding your old Facebook photos and posts? Are you making Timeline a scrapbook of your life? Let us know in the Comments section below!

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* Embrace image by Aaron

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  1. says

    Great job with the explanation Carolyn and I LOVE the photo on your cover. So beautiful. AND I love the sites you found that show more cover photos and a little template for putting them all together. Wish I had found that earlier. I messed with it in Pixlr but finally got it set up after Brankica gave me the right dimensions (850 x 317 by the way).

    One thing I will mention. My privacy settings I had set so that people can’t see my friends isn’t working with timeline. It’s still set up that way but you can view my friends so although they claim things won’t change, that’s just not true. I’m not happy about this either. It might be good to double check all your other settings since this one obviously changed.

    Love the post, great job!

    Adrienne recently published this awesome post..Two Traffic Sources You Cannot Do WithoutMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Adrienne, I’m so glad you liked the post. Your explanation on your blog of how to activate the Timeline feature is very helpful.

      I love your new cover photo on your Facebook Timeline! If you ever want to change your cover photo (though I don’t know why you would), you can check out these helpful links.

      I’m not sure what you mean about the Facebook privacy settings. Do you mean that someone who isn’t your friend on Facebook can go to your Timeline and see who your friends are even though you have it set as private? Just checking because this is very important and I want to make sure I have it straight. :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Load Your Kindle Lightly!My Profile

      • says

        I have the privacy settings set so that no one can see who my friends are. Not even my friends can view my friends list. There is a reason to my madness but now with the switch over, everyone can see my friends and I’m not happy about that at all.

        • says

          I am a proud friend of yours on Facebook, Adrienne, and I can only see our mutual friends. We have 33 mutual friends, but I’m thinking you have quite a few more Facebook friends than the 33 we have in common.

          I tried going to your Timeline and clicking on Friends in two different places but Facebook only showed me our mutual friends. So maybe the issue has been resolved?
          Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Poll: Did Your Use of Tech Change in 2011?My Profile

          • says

            So you can only see your mutual friends now? Thank goodness… No, when I switched over it was showing all and I went in and viewed it as a friend. So I emailed a couple of people so they could check it out and they could see all my friends too. I guess something between then and now has resolved itself so I’m thrilled to hear that. Thank you for double checking that for me Carolyn. That makes me feel so much better. You’re a doll!
            Adrienne recently published this awesome post..Two Traffic Sources You Cannot Do WithoutMy Profile

  2. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    I am frankly, still trying to understand the usage of timeline other than checking the old posts. If I look at it , I find somethings that I can laugh at ( for example comments or shares) but beyond that there is nothing that I derive out of it .
    Did you find any particular use other than looking at the past ? It might be useful when someone wants to make posts private to friends( i.e. correcting earlier follies of Facebook itself)..
    Give a choice I would love to go back to days before I chose timeline ;)
    Ashvini recently published this awesome post..Business lessons from twitter un-followMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Ashvini, Great question. I find Timeline more visually pleasing. I like seeing the information displayed in the Timeline format. I also like how items can be starred so you can see what’s important to your friends.

      I have friends who have put a lot into their Timelines and they look fabulous. I appreciate the creativity and organization that Timeline provides.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Facebook: Your Time for Timeline?My Profile

  3. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    I have seen the timeline feature from some of my FB friends, but I haven’t added it to my account yet. Like Ashvini, I haven’t found any real use of it other than to check old status updates and when my friends became friends with other people etc.. but it looks really cool :)

    I guess I’ll be focusing on Facebook in the months ahead since I’m starting my business. I’m finally going to create a page as well, it’s about time :)

    Great tutorial.
    Jens P. Berget recently published this awesome post..How to Name a Business When You Have Absolutely No Ideas LeftMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Jens, Maybe it’s a guy thing? Maybe Timeline is more appealing to those of the female persuasion? Lol, some people may not see the point of it, but if Timeline presents information in a more creative way that makes content easier to find and gives the user more control, then I think of that as an effective update.

      I’m excited that you will be having a new Facebook page. Once you settle on a name for your multi-media company and set up your Facebook page, you will be all set to move ahead with your new business. I wish you the best with your new beginning, Jens. You’re off to a strong start in 2012!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Load Your Kindle Lightly!My Profile

        • says

          Hi Praveen, Well my theory was strong until Faran said he liked Timeline and Ruth said she was dreading the change. Oh well.

          I think Facebook is trying to change so people won’t be bored. With Timeline people might spend more time on Facebook refining their Timelines to just how they want them to appear.

          Time will tell whether people tire of Timeline and Facebook quickly. You may not be the only one who wants to jump ship. Google + is hoping you do! :-)
          Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Facebook: Your Time for Timeline?My Profile

  4. says

    Live with it or quit Facebook, huh? I guess you are saying I might as well get on board. I haven’t even figured out Spotify yet and now I have Google + and Pinterest too. Good Lord, I’m going to need a social media coach; it is getting harder and harder to just show up these days……….I was afraid of that…………

    Well, I guess I’ll head over there and see what it does for me. Wish me luck……..
    Bill Dorman recently published this awesome post..If this were my last blog postMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Bill, I just headed over to your Facebook profile and was delighted to see that you activated your Timeline. Now all you need is a cover photo. But perhaps you’re too busy being social on all of your other sites to bother with that?

      I think you’ll be coaching all of us any day now, Bill. :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Election 2012: Your Tech GuideMy Profile

  5. Emilia says

    That was a very detailed post on FB Timeline. After reading it, I feel that I have again learned something, it all sounds interesting, but scary at the same time! I have no idea where this open social media is going and what consequences it is going to have on our personal lives in the future.

    • says

      Hi Emilia, Great point. Our personal lives can be deeply afftected by Facebook in that everything we have posted and Liked since we joined Facebook is now easily discoverable through Timeline.

      If you’re at all concerned, make sure to review your Facebook Timeline before it’s published. It’s better not to have surprises as our pasts come back to haunt us.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Poll: Did Your Use of Tech Change in 2011?My Profile

  6. Faran says

    one of the very few facebook’s new feature that i really like. timeline is a fun thing to explore and manage. though some privacy conscious people think of it as a tool for stalkers… :p

    anyways have u used facebook’s new chat feature which enables you to add profile pictures of any facebook user within the chat using square brackets?? turns out that facebook is really trying to keep their users interest in it.

    • says

      Hi Faran, I’m glad you like Timeline. I think people will come around to it as they see how cool it can look. Stalkers are going to find out your information on Facebook whether it’s through Timeline or not. They will have an easier time using Timeline, but anyone who is concerned can adjust their privacy settings.

      Yes, the new features of Facebook chate are great. I really like the list of them in your blog post! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Facebook: Your Time for Timeline?My Profile

  7. Ruth - The Freelance Writing Blog says

    I am dreading this. Just when I’ve overcome the learning curve and they go and introduce a new platform. Not all of us can manage the new technology like you Adrienne! Do we have any idea when the mandatory switch is going to happen? What is the rationale behind all of these new incarnations of Facebook?

    • says

      Hi Ruth, I think Facebook wants to update to stay a step ahead of Google +. I don’t think you should dread this change. It’s easy to switch over to Timeline and you might end up liking the new format. Timeline isn’t any extra work if you don’t want it to be. You don’t need to have a cover photo and you don’t need to feature any posts. But these options are there for you if you want them.

      If you look at others’ Timelines, you may be encouraged to make the switch! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Poll: Did Your Use of Tech Change in 2011?My Profile

  8. Hajra says

    Hey Carolyn,

    As I mentioned this on Adrienne’s blog, my brother got me hooked to the Timeline and I found it wonderful. The most thankful (Phew!) part was that it didn’t mess with my privacy settings. Maybe Facebook is finally coming to senses ;)

    Also, the look is nice but people might come to know what I Facebook – did in 2005 and believe me I was a crazy kid at 20! ;) So that might make it a little too public!

    Also, with facebook is that you HAVE to embrace the changes… so time lined!

    Thanks so much for giving us more information on this! Hope you have a nice day!

  9. Janet Callaway says

    Carolyn, aloha. Thanks so much for the great explanation on the Timeline. Though I have not done it yet, I know I need to “get with the program.” The photo you have in yours is absolutely magnificent.

    The information on Privacy is much appreciated because I know many have been struggling with it. Now, happily I can send them the link to your post.

    You’re right, of course, we do have to embrace the inevitable. However, I have to tell you that I still can’t find my way around people’s timelines all that well. It seems that information that was easy for me to find before is either no longer available or else I am missing it.

    It’s a beautiful day here so I am off for a walk. Hope you are bundled up and are enjoying a relaxing evening with your family. Until next time, aloha. Janet

    • says

      Hi Janet, I eagerly anticipate the day when you launch your Timeline. As with everything else you do, Janet, I know your Timeline will be spectacular. You can feature pictures of your beautiful home state.

      I hope you are enjoying your weekend, Janet. We are watching football in front of a roaring fire, but a walk along the beach sounds great too!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Computer Security Threats to Watch Out for in 2012My Profile

  10. says

    I ran across the timeline on my niece’s page and it just made my head hurt! So much info splattered across the page and so unexpected. I have learned not to complain bout FaceBook. They pay no nevermind to what I “like.”

    I sometimes use FaceBook to find the owners of dogs who have tags with disconnected phone numbers, so it would be useful if someone has a timeline and a public wall and maybe I can find a mention of a dog. But otherwise, it just seems like another way to make it harder to see what the young ‘uns in my family have been up to.
    Marilyn Litt recently published this awesome post..The Railway Children – by E. NesbittMy Profile

  11. Cat Alexandra says

    Dear Carolyn,

    I love how you laid out these bulletpoints of interest related to the new Facebook Timeline. I have been following these developments for a few months myself and will say that I enjoy the new presentation of information. I have found it to be visually appealing and a fun way to capture more of the essence of who it is we’re connected to.

    As with anything that changes in life, there will be people who cry because they resist change. I understand all that, but at the same time have found that life and time wait for no one. So I’m with you on the tough-love sentiment of : live with it or quit. lol

    I think that if we were to all adopt the rule of self-responsibility that there would be nothing to fear over the new ways that our information is shared across the globe. If it’s something we fear will come back to bite us in the rear, best not to say it.

    I personally love how we can now showcase more of what we’re all about and get that information to others more freely. That’s what facebook is all about, right!?

    Great article, Carolyn – thanks for sharing! :)

    Cat Alexandra

  12. says

    I think I feel rather helpless with FaceBook. It is a tide that pushes or pulls everyone. I was banned from posting once (a technical glitch) and there was no recourse. I even wrote a letter! I created a group and had about 100 people (mostly animal rescuers) who were also in “FaceBook Jail.” Every day I sent multiple emails appealing my sentence. They finally figured out the problem and we all had our privileges restored – but I never thought that my small group had anything to do with the fix. I was just unlucky and then lucky.

    I did not know about the app, but I do get PetRescuers e-mails. They are by zip code and my zip has such a large geographical area, that it is not useful. But I think the app sounds like a great idea – just don’t have a device that does apps!
    Marilyn Litt recently published this awesome post..White Fang – by Jack LondonMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Marilyn, Wow, that happened to a friend of mine on Facebook and I researched how that could happen and how she could get restored. I think the key is that if you feel the ban is in error, you should pester Facebook with emails until the issue gets resolved.

      I’m so sorry that happened to you, Marilyn. I can understand why you are hesitant to embrace the changes at Facebook based upon your experience.

      That’s great you’re getting the Pet Rescuers emails. If you ever get a smartphone, make sure to grab the Pet Rescuers app because the app tells you about lost pets within a radius of your current location. That would be more useful for you. But I really like your idea of using Facebook to identify the owners. Brilliant!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..How to Silence Your PhoneMy Profile

  13. says

    Personally I am not a fan of change. Seems like I just get used to or the hang of something and they go and change things. Not just Facebook, but all kinds of sites. I have seen a few nice looking Facebook pages out there not sure if it is the timeline thing or not. I don’t look forward to spending a lot of time trying to figure it out and getting it to look decent. But, jump on board or get left behind I guess.

    • says

      Hi Ray, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I agree, it can be easy to rest in your comfort zone. But change is all around us, especially in the world of tech. You may find that you feel comfortable with Timeline more quickly than you realize. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Ray! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..How to Silence Your PhoneMy Profile

  14. Samantha Bangayan says

    This is a great post, Carolyn! It had me thinking about different aspects of the new Timeline. I’m glad you reminded me that I should check past posts. I don’t even remember what I ever posted in 2006 or 2007 when I joined Facebook. And I’m glad we can limit access to past posts if needed.

    I’m totally on the fence about whether I like it or not. The cover photo idea is amazing, but I don’t like how our posts are harder to skim through left and right!

    • says

      Hi Samantha, I don’t think anyone remembers what they first posted on Facebook, unless they joined last week. In the beginning few people use it the same way they eventually use the service.

      If you don’t like the two column look of your Timeline, you can easily star all of your posts to make your Timeline single column, but then the posts you deem to be important won’t be highlighted. As with Facebook itself, the more people use Timeline the more they will get a feel for how they want to use it.

  15. Brian says

    I welcome this because I’ve had the problem of searching for older posts that I’ve posted myself. I don’t think I’ll ever want to look through years of someone else’s post, but an archive of my own posts will come in quite handy.

    • says

      Hi Brian, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Excellent point, Timeline is also a great way of keeping track of events in your own life. If you post about major achievements and then want to re-visit them later, you can just head to your Timeline to see your old posts. :-)

  16. says

    That’s exactly how I’ve used Twitter in the past. But about two years ago, Twitter changed the way one can search past tweets. Now they have you click “more” and before that would lead to an archive page with a page number in the URL, making it easy to skip months of tweets at a time by going to page 7, 18, 34, etc. Now one has to click “more” 34 times to get 34 pages deep. I hope I hope Facebook’s timeline will be better for searching further.

    By the way, great website.
    Brian recently published this awesome post..Are You the Author of a Boring Blog Post?My Profile

    • says

      Hi Brian, Thanks, I’m glad you like The Wonder of Tech. :-)

      Timeline is easier to navigate than Twitter because it allows you to jump from year to year and see all of the posts from a certain year. Of course if the person posts to Facebook multiple times a day then the person’s Timeline will still be cumbersome to search.