Photo: SG Shot/Shutterstock

Self-Branding With Facebook's New Timeline

by Candice Walsh Jan 4, 2012
Facebook has changed its layout again. Surprise!

IT’S CALLED THE TIMELINE, and while most people are muttering over the unfairness of having all their free familiar comforts of social media yanked out from underneath them, I kinda dig the new layout. Like, a lot.

Here’s the opportunity to further rub my travels in everyone’s faces, even if the furthest I’ve gone in the past three months is to the grocery store and back.

Or, for the more professional-minded folks, an opportunity for some stellar self-branding.

How Timeline works

The new Timeline rolls out a bunch of new features that may be confusing to people who resist change. Here are some things you can expect.

1. The Timeline introduces the ability to effortlessly view all the posts from your past. This is either good news or bad news for most. Back in 2006, when I opened my Facebook account, I didn’t have quite the following I have now. My first status update was “hungover like a MOFO.” I like to use a little more discretion nowadays, and you might too if you work in the kinda field where your professionalism is scrutinized.

2. The Cover is the giant photo you see at the top of your profile, like a banner. Here’s where you post something that represents your life, or some of your own stellar photography. Mine has a picture of me standing at Machu Picchu, because I like giving the impression I am worldly.

3. All the content on your profile is now referred to as “Stories” and is divided into two different columns. It displays your activity, your friends’ posts, photos, and all Recent Activity. You also have the option to “Star” a favourite moment to make it a larger blip on your timeline. It’s literally like mapping your life.

4. All your Apps are now displayed prominently and cleanly. For example, you can display your superior music taste with a Spotify app, or quote your favorite movies.

5. You can now post Life Events to add memorable moments to your Timeline. Yes, watching everyone around you get knocked up and then engaged will finally have its special place in the heart of Facebook.

What it means for your privacy

As I said before, all your posts from the past are available in plain sight with the new Timeline. Like suggests, “If you care about how you’re perceived by the world, you should begin crafting your Timeline as soon as possible.” You can go through old posts and delete them, or simply tighten your settings.

Go to your privacy settings immediately and decide whether or not you want the general public to see photos of you doing keg stands on a party bus while two friends struggle to keep your dress from falling over your head. Simply select who’s able to see your Timeline by choosing Custom, Public, or Friends.

What this means for your professional life

The coolest thing about the Timeline and its Cover feature is that you can really, really brand your profile in a way that’s similar to a Facebook Page. For example, if you work for Matador Network (or just really think we’re cool), you can showcase one of our virtual stickers that will have a prominent location on your profile. A Cover puts your personality in the foreground, and is the first thing people see when they’re creeping on you.

Even if your profile is not open to the public, people can see your Cover when they navigate to your personal URL.

Nonprofits can jump on the same self-branding bandwagon by inviting their supporters to share custom made Covers (without overtly asking for donations, which Facebook frowns upon).

What happens to your profile picture? It appears minimized, in the left-hand corner of the Cover, like a profile picture within a profile picture. Facebook-ception.

How to create your Cover

You will likely have to tinker around with your photo dimensions, as Facebook seems to take matters into its own hands when positioning your Cover. Try resizing or cropping your image in some photo editing software first, like pixlr.

For those using Photoshop, John Haydon provides a template on his website that includes a “profile picture” box so that you don’t block an important part of your Cover.

When it’s time to change your Cover, simply hover your mouse near the bottom right corner of the image and a small menu will appear.

Choose to upload a photo or use one from your collection. Once you have it uploaded, you can “reposition” the image by dragging it with your mouse. This doesn’t shrink the photo, however, and Facebook doesn’t make that part very easy: I had to copy the Matador Network image onto a white background before it would work properly, otherwise the profile pic of me riding a giant lobster into the sunset blocked an important piece of the big scene.

There we have it, the self-branding of champions! Or you can choose to take the more risque route. The choice is yours.

Wanna show your support for the Matador tribe? Display one of our virtual stickers! Or get some REAL stickers to slap on your laptop, a mountain, your dog, your mother, the inside of a hostel locker, a goldfish, you name it. You might even win some prizes.

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