Facebook Timeline. It’s probably the biggest thing to hit social media since the Kardashians (or “last week’s Facebook update”). With all the hype about how great (or horrible) the new Timeline feature was, I was skeptical. Facebook changes things all the time, and I never seem to notice much difference after a few days of use. I didn’t understand how using Facebook as a scrapbook was going to radically change my life. Nonetheless, I finally decided that – given the fact that I’m a “digital strategist” and am supposed to be on the cutting edge of all things cool, new and digital – I should activate my Facebook Timeline. So I did.
And it’s awesome. I may have a different perspective than most, but here’s why I love the new Facebook Timeline.
I joined Facebook when I was a freshman in college. “Back in the day” when you had to have an “.edu” email address to sign up, and before every tween and their grandmother had Facebook accounts. This is a key element of Facebook Timeline. I spent many years uploading pictures, writing “notes,” posting on others’ walls and sharing information. When I activated Timeline, I went back through all that I had done during my college years. I saw where I’d been, who I had spent a lot of time with, what I had said about classes or current events.
Granted, I can see the drawback to this. You probably won’t like Facebook Timeline if you’ve spent a considerable amount of time being a goofball. By that, I mean if you were tagged in a bunch of drunken frat-party pictures and you’re less than proud of them now, you’re probably not going to love the new Timeline. But have no fear! Facebook has thought about that! They let you turn on Timeline for only you to view for a week so that you can go through and delete all of the junk you’re not proud of.
The Timeline might not be so great for you if you’ve gotten married and your spouse was not a part of your life that Facebook timelines. I’m just saying: All of those pictures of you and your ex-girlfriend and the “I love you, sweetlips!” posts on your wall are going to show up. And your new wife is going to see them. She might not be amused. Again, this is an excellent opportunity to use the trial Timeline and remove every post you feel could later incriminate you with your loved ones.
But you know who else will love the Facebook Timeline? Grandparents. Why? Because not only can they see what their children are doing, but they can look at the lives of their grandchildren without having to pester their kids to send them pictures. Look at it this way: They’re already keeping up with birthdays using Facebook – why not use it to remember what kind of birthday cake you made last year or who you invited to the birthday party?
Given the fact that Facebook lets you remove whatever you don’t want on your Timeline, you can, in a way, recreate yourself. Or at the very least, delete the less attractive elements. Here’s an example. Childbirth. It’s an important time in a mother’s life. Some people feel the need to take pictures of the new, exhausted mother, then post them on Facebook.
The new mother, no doubt, will not be happy with these pictures, especially in two years. Pictures of baby = OK. Pictures of Mom, cheeks void of color in a hospital gown = not OK. The mother may opt to take down those photos.
But how awesome would it be for brands like, say, Pampers, if they could target this mother and track the baby’s growth and promote products that fit that life stage? Not only right when the baby is born, but in a few years when they need pull-ups instead of diapers? Or maybe Weight Watchers has a potential customer as Mom tries to get back into pre-baby form.
Because Facebook Timeline can let people know when important events (like childbirth) happen, they also allow brands to use a little deductive reasoning and think about what other important events are going on in the lives of users. Sixteen years after that childbirth picture? Hello, car insurance companies…
One more thing I love about Timeline. The huge picture, what Facebook calls the “Cover Photo.” That’s right, you can highlight a much larger picture on your profile while still having your little passport-style “this is what I really look like” picture (that is commonly used for the token keg stand picture among my friends). This opens up a lot of doors for creativity.
Check out http://mashable.com/2011/12/08/facebook-timeline-ideas/#375873-Pao-Abella for some great examples of how people are expressing themselves with the Cover Photo.
It will be interesting to see if Facebook allows brands to activate a new Timeline page. Many brands on Facebook will be reasonably new, as it’s a great promotional tool for young brands to get some word-of-mouth coverage. It’d be really cool for brands with a lot of rich history. For example, I’d like to see some timelines like this:
- 1992: Clear colas: Failure.
- 2008: Tested Diet Coke with Bacon…did not go into production.
- 2011: Fans reject white Coke can, saying it “tastes different.”
- 1908: Model T introduced.
- 1914: Ford introduces a $5/day minimum wage, double the existing wage.
- 2011: Ford Focus electric unveiled.
- 2004: Facebook launches.
- 2006: Facebook opened to everyone ages 13 or older with a valid email address.
- 2009: Facebook users freak out about privacy changes.
- 2010: Facebook users freak out about change to live news feed.
- 2011: Facebook users freak out about new Timeline feature.
To close, I’d encourage you to try Facebook Timeline. The longer you’ve been a user and the more you’ve posted, the more interesting your timeline will be. Who knows, maybe Facebook Timeline will serve as a gentle reminder for people to be responsible? Like my grandmother always said, “Don’t do anything if you don’t want it posted on Facebook.”