Facebook Timeline

The profile page of Facebook accounts is called a timeline. Users can post status updates as well as relevant information about their life or major milestones of their life from birth on to the present as text, image or video. Depending on the user's profile settings, other users can read the information on the Facebook timeline and display posts from friends or flirtatious fan sites. In 2012, the old Facebook Chronicle was replaced by the timeline. Companies can also use the timeline feature on their Facebook Page. Despite the introduction of the Timeline, it is still often referred to as a facebook chronicle.

Background and development

With the introduction of the timeline in spring 2012, Facebook has extended the functionality of the user accounts, but it also now animates its users into sharing even more information about themselves and to personalize their accounts further. Users can place a header graphic next to the profile photo, called a cover photo on Facebook with the Chronicle. Information on “likes” can be stored and displayed in its own information field. Social apps can also be used.

One of the aims of the Chronicle or Timeline is to map a virtual and multimedia life history of the user, from birth on to the present. Here is an example of Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Because of the additional user information from the timeline, Facebook has the opportunity to offer advertisers even more efficient targeting. If you, for example, mention soccer as part of your “likes,” you can be identified as potential recipients of advertising messages in the area of soccer clothing. The “Chronicle” innovation can thus be understood as an upgrade with the connotation of even better monetization of the social network. Following its IPO in 2012, this was certainly a necessary step to reassure investors who rely on high dividends through Facebook’s advertising revenue.

Benefits in practice

The privacy settings have not changed with introduction of the Facebook Timeline. Users can thus define exactly what content is visible to which groups of people. This decision does not have to apply globally, a user can determine for each post separately whom he wants to reach with it and can select for which group of people the posting is intended. Users can now define lists such as “private,” “close friends,” “family” etc. A new feature is also the fact that older posts can be deleted or their publication date can be modified. Additionally, a location can be included with the post, which is then transferred to the timeline.

Now and again, there are new features in Facebook that users should know about. Anyone who wants to give access to their profile to critical HR managers, for example, should refrain from posting private photos and life events or you would have to configure the reach for each post separately in order to reduce the visibility of posts for certain groups of people.

Old posts can be deleted in the new Chronicle. It is therefore advisable to check in your privacy settings whether old posts are visible for all. If so, visibility can be limited with a few clicks. For companies that maintain a Facebook profile it is important in any case that the information is selected and presented in such a way to be effective and doesn’t cause any negative PR, which could result in a shitstorm, for example.

Filter Bubble

Since the Facebook timeline mainly displays posts of pages and similar groups, a so-called filter bubble can be formed. The effects of this phenomenon have already been investigated in several experiments. For example, if a user mainly follows pages of a political direction or liked corresponding contributions, Facebook algorithms provide him/her with similar postings in the timeline. As a result, the user no longer receives objective information, but remains in his or her "filter bubble".

Importance for marketing

Especially as regards to reputation management, the careful maintenance of a public Facebook Timeline is of importance. The external image of a person can be very precisely controlled. However, each user should be aware of what personal information they want to share with the public. For politicians or entrepreneurs, for example, the Facebook Timeline certainly offers the possibility to separate postings for business partners from postings for employees or friends. However, this requires a high degree of foresight and overview because a comment intended for friends could quickly cause confusion or displeasure with business customers.

A direct effect in terms of SEO measures should not be expected from a Facebook account. However, keeping your Facebook account and timeline up to date could be beneficial for enhancing the reputation of your website, as well as the reputation and reach of the brand and company. Anyone who has a lot of friends on Facebook can use it for marketing campaigns or recommendations, which in turn could generate more traffic for your own website.

In order to appear in the timelines of followers, your contributions have to be relevant and be suitable for interacting with, i. e. with likes and shares. Without this interaction, contributions from the company's own Facebook page have little chance of reaching the audience. However, this can be artificially increased with paid Facebook posts.

Importance for SEO

The Chronicle has particular impact on search engine optimization, when a company operates a Facebook page. The latest developments in SEO point up the increased relevance of social signals for search engines. It is therefore important to evaluate details correctly. Even the choice of name for the profile should match the name of the company.

Both for private profiles as well as for fan pages a “vanity URL” can be selected. With this the Facebook page now has an easy to remember and meaningful domain name. The info area should be filled with informative copy to let users know what the core stock-in-trade is and at the same time include keywords. It should also contain links to web pages which are relevant to the company, for example, the home page of your blog or other profiles on other social networks like Google+ or Twitter. Configuring the info box is also recommended. That way, events or competitions can be displayed directly on the timeline.

Since search engines can read the first few lines of Facebook posts, it is recommended to place applicable keywords there in moderation. While it is all about social interaction, some keywords that describe a topic concisely, certainly makes sense from SEO and a user’s view. You can also include posts and sites that are not directly related to the company. However, it is important to ensure that these are reputable sources. For businesses, a correct legal notice would be of interest because Facebook pages are subject to the German Telemedia Act and is treated legally as websites.

Primarily, Facebook timelines should not be used for link building, but rather for reputation management and increasing brand and company reach.

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