40 Important Facebook Timeline Tips for Professionals

Every time Facebook makes a major change, it's good to take a moment to review your profile and make sure you're sharing your best self online. But with Facebook's new Timeline, it's more important than ever. Timeline offers the opportunity for you to share more about yourself, both personally and professionally, and that means not only can you use Facebook as a living resume, you can also open yourself up to embarrassment and privacy concerns. Follow these 40 tips to make the most of the new Timeline while striking a healthy balance between privacy and professionalism.

Your Cover Image

Perhaps the most immediately noticeable change on Timeline is the addition of the cover image, and there are so many ways you can take advantage of this huge photo real estate on your profile. Here are just a few great tips.

  1. Put a timeline on your Timeline: Your cover image is a great place to share a visual timeline of your work and life.
  2. Brand your Timeline cover: One option for your Timeline cover is to brand it with your company logo, photos, and more.
  3. Show off what you love to do: While most people will keep their face as a profile photo, the cover image is much more flexible. Speakers can show photos of their latest panel, and photographers can offer a view of their work in action, with room for just about anyone to show off their work in progress.
  4. Remind visitors to subscribe: Much like blogs, your new Facebook Timeline will allow people to subscribe to your updates even if you're not Friends. Your cover image offers a convenient place to remind them to subscribe.
  5. Share where you are: Your cover photo is a great place to highlight your Twitter, LinkedIn, or website.

Presenting a Professional You

With a Timeline, you can go back and update your professional history, life events, and simply share more about your personal and professional life. Here's how to put your best foot forward.

  1. Add your accomplishments: The old Facebook made it easy to add your education, work, and big things, but even the little stuff gets highlighted on Timeline. Share your Employee of the Month awards, days you had the top story on Digg, or the time you caught the biggest fish at Lake Whatsitcalled.
  2. See how others see you: Make sure that your clients, boss, and even your grandma are seeing you as you intended. Access View As, and you'll be able to check out your profile as any person on your Friends list.
  3. Tag your map: Highlight where important life events have happened, and where your life has taken you, by tagging items on your map.
  4. Choose primary album photos: Facebook's Timeline will now show one large photo as a primary image, with others arranged on the side or below. By default, it will be the first one in your album, but if there's one that better represents what you want to share, be sure to change it.
  5. Show what you've been up to: If you love to take photos when you travel for business, create albums and be sure to highlight them on your Timeline.
  6. Rearrange your boxes: If you'd rather visitors to your Timeline see notes and subscriptions instead of your Maps and Friends, just swap their positions, and the items you want to highlight will be more prominent.
  7. Just assume that your Timeline is part of the hiring process: Using Facebook to check out prospective hires is nothing new, but Timeline makes it even easier to verify dates, interests, and more. From this point forward, you should act as if everything you put on Facebook is fair game for recruiters.
  8. Know that Likes are even more important: Likes play an even more prominent role on Facebook's new Timeline, so generating likes through contests, interactions, and other campaigns is more important than ever.
  9. Create Facebook cards: Present a unified look online and off with these cards from Moo.com that feature your Facebook Timeline photos.
  10. Set up a QR code: Some Timeline users have set their cover photo as a personal image, and used their smaller profile photo to present a QR code that links to a professional resume, company website, and more.
  11. Use photos for everything: Photos have always been compelling content on Facebook, and that's even more true with Timeline. Updating your map, sharing life events, and filling in your work experience all become significantly more interesting with a photo to go along with your updates.
  12. Get familiar with Timeline, it's coming soon for Pages: Timeline is great for profiles, but it's amazingly valuable for Pages, where companies can share important dates and events like their founding, first location, and more, so if you've got a Page or plan to get one, play around with Timeline on your profile so you'll know exactly what to do when it's your Page's turn to upgrade.
  13. Don't forget to make compelling content: Reputation management professionals believe that Timeline is, now more than ever, a great tool for highlighting dynamic content. So be sure to keep putting photos, videos, and interesting links out there.
  14. Feature awesome past content: If you have a video, link, or photo that you consider to be really important, but it managed to get buried in the past, use Timeline to feature it and allow it to once again be prominent.
  15. Give your best content a more prominent look: By default, your entries will fit into one of two columns, but for really important stuff, you can edit it so that they take up the whole page.
  16. Share the "propersonal" you: Facebook is a great place to be yourself, but be sure to keep it within reason. Tell your professional and personal story in a compelling, non-embarrassing way.
  17. Update with corrected dates: For photos that may have been added much later than they were actually taken, go through and change the date of when the photos were posted to match the actual event.
  18. Share important milestones in your history: Now that Timeline is open, you can go back and add important dates in your professional history, including your hire dates and promotions.
  19. Highlight the most important content: Not everything you post is going to fit into your Timeline, and Facebook will make an educated guess on your behalf when it comes to what's shared and what's buried. But you can star the information that you think is most important so that it stays prominent.

Reputation Protection & Privacy

Now that you can share so much more on Facebook, it's extremely important that you're aware and remain vigilant about protecting not just your privacy, but your reputation. Use these tips to ensure your Facebook Timeline is safe.

  1. Be careful with your Likes: It's so easy just to thumbs-up anything and everything, but what you Like says a lot about you. Be sure that the bars, movie stars, and organizations you're giving a Like to really represent you accurately.
  2. Organize your contacts: Timeline now allows you to categorize your friends into specific lists, and those lists can be used to determine who sees what on your profile. This is a great way to personalize content for the crowd you're sharing with.
  3. Limit your past posts: If you're just not sure of all the things you've got out there in your Facebook past, you can limit old posts to just Friends.
  4. Check and double check third-party apps: If you don't want to flood Facebook friends and colleagues with your latest wedding inspiration on Pinterest, or let everyone know you just read about celebrity gossip on a social reader, lock down your third-party permissions.
  5. Make your Timeline private, if you want: While some people prefer to keep their Timeline open as a resume for all to see, for others, it's a good idea to lock it down. If that's the case for you, lock it down and change your profile from "Public" to "Friends" so you can be in control of who sees your info.
  6. Set up a monitoring service: With a monitoring service like Reppler, you can get notified it any questionable content shows up on your Facebook Timeline.
  7. Don't forget to filter posts: Although you can never be 100% sure that your private posts will stay that way, you can help protect yourself by limiting who sees the entries on your Timeline.
  8. Delete, delete, delete: If you happen to find something questionable in your past that's recently come to light in the new Timeline, take swift action and simply delete it.
  9. Remember that identity theft is always a possibility: Although we'd all love to think that everyone on Facebook is a friend, some are there to check out your personal information and use it for nefarious purposes. Your mother's maiden name, place of birth, even your first pet's name can be used to steal your identity.
  10. Don't forget to check your Activity Log: You can't just clean up your own Timeline and stop there, you've got to check your friends as well. Go into your Activity Log and make sure you don't have any awkward posts on other peoples' Timelines.
  11. Lock up your timeline: If you're worried about friends posting embarrassing things on your Timeline, you can restrict your settings to only allow posts by you to show up.

Optimizing Interaction & Use

These tips will help you make the most of the new Facebook, whether you're saving time and annoyance, or remembering important moments in your own life.

  1. See what you want to see: You can choose exactly what you see in your News Feed, from highlighting recent stories or subscribing to only specific updates from your Friends, saving your time and attention.
  2. Take a look at the direction of your life: Facebook's Timeline, and your work to fill it out, offers a great opportunity for reflecting on the events and people that have taken you to where you are right now.
  3. Find hidden content: Some of your posts will end up hidden on your Timeline, but you can open them up by clicking on blue dots, or just click on the three blue dots beneath each year to view all of your stories within a year.
  4. Hide your sidebar: If you don't feel like you need a play by play of updates, or chat availability, you can hide your Timeline sidebar and clear up some clutter.
  5. Get rid of annoying ads: If you're constantly seeing an ad that bugs you, you can hover over it and click on the X, hiding that ad, and even all further ads from that advertiser.

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