Summer in the valleyAre you curious about Facebook Timeline? If you haven’t been forced to switch yet, you will be soon. You’ve probably seen some pages that already have converted, but until you make the move yourself and get to know the lay of the new page, you may feel a bit confused and overwhelmed.

Private Facebook Preview

Luckily, it is easy to see how your Facebook social life will look with a Timeline Preview. Search Facebook for “timeline” and you’ll get an informative page about the rollout. At the bottom of that page, you can even see which of your friends have already made the switch. A banner at the bottom of your screen will display a green button which gives you the option to “Get Timeline Now.” Click on it to see all your current information in the new layout. This is your private preview, so no one else can see it.

If you’ve already been automatically converted to Timeline, something Facebook has been doing in batches for a few months, you can still edit what you see and share.

Timeline Tour

Take a look around your new Facebook wall and get familiar with the new layout. Even though the visual display has changed dramatically, there isn’t a lot of new functionality to learn.

The most noticeable change is the “cover” image. This extra large photo spans the width of your Facebook wall and gives a sense of personality to your page. You can easily swap photos with seasons or moods by clicking on your existing photo and selecting “Change Cover.” You can upload a new photo, pick from those you already have on Facebook, or reposition your existing cover image.

Patric Welch Facebook cover image

You don’t have to have a cover photo, but, if you do, the effect can be stunning. Keep in mind the image you use will be public, just like your profile picture is (and always has been). Look at other’s pages or pages for your favorite brands to see the types of images they are using. There also are clipart options and collage tools available. Search Google for “timeline covers” for more ideas.

A Journey through Time

Facebook Timeline sliderYour page will now have a static sidebar on the right hand side of the screen. This lets you or your visitors quickly jump to specific periods in time. Go back as far as you can to see when you joined Facebook (did you know it had been so long?). If you haven’t already, think about adding major milestones like the birth of your children, graduations, relocations and more. This will provide you with ongoing reminders of where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished while also giving visitors context for your life, events and posts.

Manage Your Privacy

Speaking of posts.are there any from the past that you regret? Now is the time to clean up your act because Timeline makes it so easy for readers to browse through bygone eras. You have a couple of options for streamlining this task. If your privacy settings allow any member of the public to read your posts, you could start by changing all your “old” posts to a friends-only view. Go to your privacy settings and select “Limit the Audience for Past Posts.” If there are only a few things you’d like to erase from your past, scroll through Timeline and change the audience for individual posts by clicking on the edit pencil icon-or, even better, delete them completely.

Below the Banner

It takes a couple of views to get used to the timeline view that starts below your cover photo and other banner info. Look at the middle of the screen and find the light blue vertical line. Dots on the line anchor stories and posts in time-it doesn’t matter if they are on the right or left. There is an exception to this rule, however. In the right column, the top two or three boxes will be static categories like “Friends” and “Recent Activity,” but the content within the category boxes will change.

Highlight a Story

When you have really big news (new baby anyone?) post it then select the star in the top right corner of the post. This will make your story span both columns. If you change your mind, just click the star again and demote the story to single column status.

Add a Life Event

When you are ready to fill in activities from your life-before-Facebook, Timeline makes it easy. Instead of posting a status, post a Life Event. This gives you the option of adding start and end dates to an event (vacations, schooling, relationships, jobs), and both milestones will automatically appear on your Timeline.

Facebook add a life event

Post Old Photos

You can also back-date entries, which is especially great for photos. Post a photo to your timeline then click the edit pencil and select “Change Date.” You can also change the date on everyday text-only posts -in case you forgot to chronicle the kids’ first day of school!

Browse Past Activity

If you’ve ever “liked” someone else’s post in hopes that you can go back and read comments or visit a recommended link, Facebook Timeline now makes this much easier. To the right of your profile photo, click on Activity Log for a list of everything you’ve posted or liked on Facebook. Your Activity Log also easily lets you jump around by years and months, and it is for your eyes only. This view also gives you a quick way to “allow” or “hide” things from your Timeline.

Facebook Timeline may take a little getting used to, but give it a chance. It grows on you!

Patric Welch

Patric Welch founded Noobie, Inc. in 2006 to help others effectively choose and use technologies to enhance their work and lives. The catchy company name earned Welch the name of Mr. Noobie®, but, in reality, Welch is an experienced and professional techie. Unlike most techies, Welch evaluates emerging technologies from a noobie’s perspective and provides technology education for all skill levels in a friendly, non-threatening way.

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