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Comments Off on Facebook Replaces Profiles with Timelines; Implications for Small Businesses

Facebook Replaces Profiles with Timelines; Implications for Small Businesses

Excerpted from an article by Paul Chaney

Rationale for ‘Timelines’

Facebook says its motivation for the change is to provide users with a storyline of their life’s most significant moments — graduations, marriages, birth of children, a new job and other events worth celebrating. It represents a shift from a focus on transient, real-time events to a longer-term outlook, one that considers the growth and maturation of its original user-base: college students.

“Over time, your profile evolved to better reflect how you actually communicate with your friends. Now you can share photos of what you did last weekend, and updates about how you feel today. But since the focus is on the most recent things you posted, more important stuff slips off the page. The photos of your graduation get replaced by updates about what you had for breakfast,” wrote Facebook product manager Samuel Lessin, on The Facebook Blog.

Timelines for Fan Pages

Though Timelines are currently available only for individuals, Facebook’s development path has long been to take changes to Profiles and incorporate them into business Pages — “Fan pages” — as well. There is already speculation that Timeline will do this, too.

Mashable, the tech blog, cited an unnamed Facebook source in a September 27 post, who said, “Consistency in both functionality and appearance is really important to Facebook, so we hope to make Pages more consistent with the new Timeline in the future.”

Concerns Over Timeline

The shift to Timeline has been criticized by Facebook users — see the post in All Techie News — primarily over privacy concerns. Detractors allege that Facebook, to appeal to advertisers, is simply seeking to capture more user data.

From the standpoint of usability, thanks to its two-column layout, Timelines takes getting used to. Items appear more random than in the previous version and not just a little hodgepodge. Still, with the ability to feature items so they cross both columns, merchants could keep key content more centrally focused and reduce confusion.

The other concern is that, in an effort to take advantage of the new layout, merchants may immediately opt to use Profiles instead of Pages, which violates Facebook’s terms of use.

Companies that currently now use Profiles may find the visual attractiveness provided by Timelines too much of a temptation and refrain from switching to Pages altogether, even though Facebook provides a mechanism by which to do so.

Read the full article…