A User’s Guide to Facebook’s New Timeline

By Mikal E. Belicove|For Entrepreneur.com|December 12, 2011

As Facebook begins rolling out its much-anticipated user interface, Timeline, now’s the time to get to know what’s so different about it — and how to use it.

The Timeline interface, which will eventually replace the existing one for all personal Facebook profiles, is your Wall and Profile rolled into one with additional tools for documenting your life — from the day you were born to the here and now. You can add a cover image at the top of your Timeline, add life events such as your high school graduation or your summer vacations, map places you’ve been, list pets you’ve owned, document relationships you started or ended and much more.

Facebook’s new look is being rolled out worldwide for personal profiles only right now — assuming, of course, they iron out that pesky lawsuit from Timelines.com. But as the fluency with the new interface expands — and the bugs get addressed — Facebook will roll out similar capabilities for Business and Brand Pages. That being the case, my best advice is to take the time now to get used to what will inevitably become the standard look and feel across all of Facebook.

First thing’s first, if you don’t have the Timeline running on your Facebook account, head to Facebook’s Timeline page and click “Sign Me Up.” Then, here is a brief tutorial on how to maneuver Timeline:

Navigating the Timeline
The Timeline user interface is much more accessible if you break it down into its components.

Cover: The big block at the top of the page contains your cover image, profile picture, “about” information, and thumbnails for one-click access to Facebook features and apps you use most frequently.

Timeline navigator: You can scroll up and down your Timeline or select a year in the Timeline navigator, on the right, and then click a month in that year to go directly to that month.

Timeline Publisher: Similar to the Publisher in your News Feed, Timeline Publisher lets you and your friends post content to your Timeline. Friends can post updates, photos or places. In addition to that, you can indicate life events, such as getting married, adopting a pet and more.

Recent activity: This box, on the opposite side of the Timeline from the Publisher displays recent actions you’ve performed on Facebook, such as friending someone and editing your profile.

The actual time line: The line that runs down the middle of the page represents your lifetime. Hover the mouse pointer over the line and a plus sign appears. Click the plus sign and the Publisher toolbar appears, enabling you to add a status update, photo/video, place or life event to the Timeline. Scroll to the bottom of the Timeline and click “+ Add a photo” to add a baby picture.

Stories: These are the boxed items on either side of the Timeline. If you look at your Timeline as a scrap book, these are the scraps of memories that document your life and activities on and off Facebook in photographs, maps, video and other media. Hover the mouse pointer over a story to display buttons in the story’s upper right corner for…

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