In Case Facebook Timeline Is Giving You Agita

I am seeing all sorts of grumbling in and out of Facebook and across the Web about the new Timeline view. I opted into the view a few months back because, well, why not? I like to try out new things. Although it was a bit confusing for me at first, I have grown to love the look of it and the improved organization it brings to your Facebook life.

Since billions and billions of people use Facebook, making a major interface tweak like Timeline is no small step. It will dramatically affect how you interact vis a vis your Profile. But, if you step back and take a few deep breaths, and do a little reading, you can get the basics down enough to manage your information flow effectively and maybe even show off some slickness.

I find it very nice to be able to scroll up and down to see my Facebook “life” in a visual, chronological order. You can easily navigate all the way back to when you joined Facebook and chuckle at your newbie ways. This seems a far more intuitive way to view the information, once you get used to it.

If you don’t already have Timeline, you will see a prompt when you view your Facebook Profile to check Timeline out. Follow the instructions to enable. If you don’t like it, you can go back to the old style, but remember that Facebook is going to foreclose that option very soon, so it makes sense to get comfortable with the new layout sooner rather than later.

Now, for the slickness. Look toward the top of your profile page and you will see a button that says “add a cover.” This “cover” is a nearly page wide image that can serve as a static visual for your page. Click on it, then select an image from your Facebook photos or load up a new one, make any adjustments you might want and you are good to go. If you are unhappy with your image, never fear. Simply hover over the right side and a button will appear offering you the ability to change that cover. Click on it and follow the same process as above. Looking good!

 

Change the covers of albums by hovering over the album and clicking the pencil to edit by selecting the “change primary photo” option. Or you can even highlight a particular post on your page – just click on the star at the upper right and it will give you the option to increase the post’s size vis a vis other posts.

You can mess around with your Favorites boxes too. These are the little images with titles just below you Cover photo. Friends and Photos have to stay where they are, but the remaining boxes can be shuffled around for maximum effect. Hover over them, click on the pencil and adjust accordingly.

 

 

If privacy is important to you and you are interested in hiding unwanted information / posts from your timeline, you can do so by clicking the Pencil icon at the top right of the post, right next to the star icon showing above. That will give you the option to hide from the timeline. But maybe you still want to be able to see everything – that can be done too. Simply click on the Activity Log button just to the lower right of your cover photo. Then you will see a complete action history broken down by date. This log is only visible to you and it will show stuff you chose to hide from your Timeline view. Filter from the “all” drop down menu at the top right – you can limit activity to certain types for a better look. You can adjust the visibility of individual posts from within the Timeline as well.

Click that little cog to the right of Activity Log and you can switch your view of your own timeline to that of someone else – so you can make sure that you are truly hiding / showing what you want others to not see or see. Maybe you want to share something directly into your Timeline other than the usual stuff of status, photos, etc. There is a way now to insert important or interesting information directly into your Timeline to flesh it out, as it were. You may have notice a line with dots running down the center of your profile page. Simple hover over that line, click on the plus sign that appears at any point in time and up will pop a box allowing you to enter a Status, Photo, Place or Life Event. It’s like going back and editing your past with the stuff you forgot to include the first time around. Not a bad idea if you want to point out some significant achievement or cool happening that you were too busy to post about while you were actually experiencing it.

Dislike ads as much as I do? Then you might like the ability to “x” out an ad you don’t like. It won’t remove ads entirely, but it will get rid of the particularly annoying ones. Just hover over the ad and click the “x” and say Sayonara. If you want to tailor the content you are seeing from friends, head on over to their profile, click on the Subscribe button and select just what you want to see from them.

This should get you well on your way to a Timeline experience you can live with. I daresay you may even enjoy it eventually. It really offers a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate view of your activity on the most popular social network in the world. Spend a few moments learning the ins and outs, tweaking it and kicking the tires, and you will be a Timeline pro in no time.

All You Need To Know About Facebook Subscriptions

The new feature is also going to come with a personalized Suggested Subscription list – a personalized recommendation to help people find interesting non-friends to receive public updates from. Think friend suggestions based on who users have mutual friends with – these will be suggestions for subscriptions based on connections and demographics. There are lots of new bits and pieces of subscription information being published now on the site, no doubt in an effort to increase user engagement with the feature and promote viral adoption. You also will see who has subscribed to who when you visit a person’s profile.

 

Facebook has been a busy bee lately, trying to drag its social network into the modern age with tailored sharing and connecting, much along the lines of the coolest Google + features. I have no problem with that – competition being a good thing and imitation being the highest form of flattery and whatnot. Rather than go through an exhaustive analysis of all of the new features, I thought I would highlight one particular feature that rolled out yesterday that I think could seriously change the entire dynamic of Facebook.

Up until now, there has been this guarded approach to connecting that requires both a friend request and an acceptance in order to open the door to all the valuable content shared on FB. If you are a content junkie, like myself, it is pretty easy to amass a fairly large number of “friends” on the service. But are they all really “friends?” What if you simply want to follow a person, a la Twitter, and see their public information without all the commitment that a formal friend engagement entails?

Facebook Subscriptions will allow just that – the ability to follow another FB user without becoming “friends” and without requiring a mutual relationship – a one-way follow model reminiscent of Twitter. When you subscribe to someone on FB, you will see only their public posts. Tailoring posts has become much easier now that Facebook allows you to set privacy with each individual post via a drop down button in the status box. When you subscribe, you will see the subscription’s public posts and when people subscribe to you, they will see yours.

When you opt into the Subscribe feature (nice FB – thanks for not turning it on by default), people will see a Subscribe button on each person’s profile or on each post in the News Feed. They can click on your Profile  to follow your public posts without first getting your approval. You can set whether or not subscribers can comment on your public posts. Subscribers can specify exactly what kind of content they want to see from you – all updates, most updates or important updates only, photos and vids, status, games, life events, etc.

This feature will definitely appeal to people with broad appeal – those who may have hit the 5,000 friend limit and have had to turn to Pages to manage masses of fans. It might also appeal to the little guy too – you get the option to share with a broader audience and, given FB’s numbers lead when it comes to social network population, this is not a bad thing for on-line publishers and content creators. Will it replace Pages entirely? No – because Pages still offers some features (analytics, multiple admins), that Profiles do not. But, if a person or brand would like to simplify their FB experience into a single presence, the new Subscription feature and the ability to merge Pages with Profiles will allow a more personal and efficient approach. Check out the comparison chart between Pages and Subscriptions below:

Subscriptions are not just for new connections – it also will appeal to anyone who wants to tailor the content they receive from their existing friends, either from their profile or on each post in the News Feed. Use the Subscribe button to limit / define exactly what and how much you want to see. If you subscribe to others, you will see a new Subscriptions entry in the left menu on your profile, from which you can adjust settings.

Behind the scenes, Facebook has implemented some nice touches via their powerful algorithms to tailor content on your News Feed and your notifications. With all the new ways to receive and consume, it is nice to hear that there is some filtering and control available to adjust the settings, so to speak, with decent tweaking on by default. You should be aware that there is no requirement that you enable a Subscription button on your Profile – if you choose not to, your FB experience will not change in any way. But if you do, then you open the door to more engagement with privacy options intact. And there is no doubt in my mind that, while FB has borrowed heavily from the Twitter model, the new features vastly improves on it – offering fine tunnig of content-in and content-out if a far more meaningful way.

I have to say that I am pretty impressed with FB’s bold move here. I had always pegged them as to proud to change that friending model that has defined the service from its start – a service built on “belonging to a club” so to speak. Now everyone can join the club. But you just don’t have to listen to everything each other has to say.

The NEW Facebook Privacy

Image from All Facebook

Public Service Announcement:  Facebook has finally responded to the loads of privacy-related backlash leveled against it over the past few weeks after rolling out its new “instant personalization” andll  athe privacy “tweaks” that came with it. If you spend time on the giant social network, it behooves you to at least read the changes, attempt to understand where your information is going and consider addressing your settings.

There is a great post over at All Facebook (link here) that breaks down the newest Facebook changes (announced yesterday). The short list is that you can now opt out of applications, hide your friends list and interests (I really didn’t NEED everyone to know how much I love Cadbury Mini Eggs), hide information from the past (about TIME!), and use a one-click privacy setting button if you would rather not go through the numerous manual settings heretofore necessary to ensure the same level of privacy across your data categories. There is now a single directory settings page. This is also great – you previously needed to go to several different locations to control who can see your information via Google or Facebook search.

Much of your information is still public by default and instant personalization (the broadcasting of your public information to participating websites) is still opt-out.

You may not be seeing these changes yet – Facebook will be rolling them out over the next few weeks. But consider hitting the jump above to read the details on the changes. It just makes good web-sense to take control of your own information and actively monitor how it is used by others.