By Shawn McGowan, JobsInME.com
As personal branding becomes easier, awareness of privacy and online reputation management are crucial. Facebook continues to update their software and coming soon... the introduction of the Facebook Timeline.
What Is the Timeline?
Depending on how often you update, last month's events and conversations can disappear pretty quickly into the Facebook ether. Facebook's Timeline feature will seek to make your feed searchable by organizing and aggregating your life's events into a cohesive timeline that tells a story from the material you've posted since you've been using the service. But wait, there's more. The Timeline encourages you to go beyond, all the way back to your birth, sharing everything from baby pictures to graduation photos. You can get an idea of how this will look by watching the Facebook Timeline video.
How Does It Affect Me?
Facebook changes seldom make the masses happy, but with 800 million users at this point, they can't please everyone. Every change thus far has been an open and unapologetic move by Mr. Zuckerberg in the direction of increased sharing to the point of unease and even user outrage. The more personal information and buying habits that users provide Facebook, the more relevant data they will yield for targeted advertising. As this revenue stream widens for Facebook, expect these kinds of changes to continue.
This change has the usual creepy factor that will turn many users off and cause churn, especially since according to a recent poll, 54 percent of adults under age 25 said they had posted something online that they regretted (and 32 percent over age 25). Once posts that have long since sunk beneath hundreds of more recent posts are indexed and easily referenced on people's Timelines, privacy will surely be once again be top of mind for Facebookers. The idea that someone can easily bring pictures and messages with exes, drunken posts at 3:00 AM you may have forgotten about from years ago, and ill-advised rants about your boss back into the light is already causing a stir in the Facebook community.
What Should I Keep in Mind?
While I agree that this new development can seem intrusive, this shock too shall pass, as these changes eventually become the norm. If you are worried about uncomfortable situations with coworkers and managers, here are my suggestions for you once the feature rolls out:
- Curate your Timeline. Delete, revise, edit your posts. Explore your Timeline like you're a first-time visitor and weed out statuses and photos that you'd rather let lie.
- Revisit your privacy settings. You have ultimate control over who can see every aspect of your information on Facebook.
- If you don't trust yourself or want some direction on this, try Reppler.
- Be selective about who you allow into your networks. For example, you might want to think about adding your boss on LinkedIn and reserving Facebook for close personal friends. You have control over this.
- Don't post anything you wouldn't want your Grandmother or Boss or significant other to read or hear about. Period.
As a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Shawn McGowan's passion for brand transparency and over 10 years of sales/customer service experience make him aptly suited for the job. A native of East Millinocket, Maine, Shawn grew up at the foot of Mount Katahdin and graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). When not writing, editing or immersing himself in the world of social media, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, art, music, tech, humor, Portland's amazing food scene, and all things nerdy. You can reach Shawn at smcgowan (at) JobsInME.com and Twitter.com/shonymac.