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How to Protect Your Professional Reputation on Facebook Timeline

Facebook’s new Timeline feature offers both dangers and opportunities for your professional life.

Facebook’s new Timeline layout isn’t available yet for businesses and Facebook hasn’t announced plans to move pages over to the new layout, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you or your business.

Timeline is a new format for your Facebook profile that sorts all your Facebook activity chronologically, from your most recent status update all the way back to your birth. Timeline is also a great opportunity to tell people about yourself and your work history. Here are some quick tips to make sure your Timeline works for and not against your career.

[Related story: Make a Facebook Page for Your Small Business]

Edit Privacy Settings on Specific Posts

The first and most obvious step when you get started with your Timeline is to look through your history and make sure you aren’t displaying anything unprofessional to potential co-workers, customers, or employers--like embarrassing photos or private comments. You can accomplish this by manually scrolling down your Timeline, and editing or removing status messages or events. But if you’re in a hurry, try using Timeline’s new Activity Log, which will give you a quick display of all the events on your Timeline and allow you to edit the privacy settings of events instead of removing them outright. This will let you keep a photo gallery visible to your college buddies, for instance, without letting your co-workers see it.

Add Your Business History

Timeline isn’t just something you need to protect yourself from, however; it’s a great way to let people know about your business and its history. By adding events related to your business or career to your Timeline, you can turn your Facebook page into an attractive and interesting way to share information about your company with clients and co-workers.

Say, for instance, that you want to add the founding story of your business to your Timeline. Start by scrolling down to that point in history. If you mouse over the Timeline itself that runs down the middle of the page, you should see a small + symbol. Clicking when that + appears will pull up a small menu for adding a new event to your Timeline. Select Life Event and you’ll see a new menu that will let you add Work & Education as your event type. From there enter in the required information, like the exact date of your event and the name of your business, and add any optional information or photos you’d like added to your history.

[Related story: Why Facebook is Better for Business Than Google+

Remember, though, even if you’ve got the best Timeline page, your business’s independent Facebook page is still important. Facebook doesn’t allow you to promote your business directly on your Timeline, so keep to a “just the facts” approach when adding professional information there, and then add links to your company page when appropriate.

[Related story: How to Promote and Maintain Your Facebook Business Page]

Looking for Work With Timeline

Since Timeline is as much about your past as your present, it could act as a great way for job seekers to illustrate their work histories. If you’re looking for work, think of your public Timeline as your new resume; try to include as much as you can about your work and education history along with your talents and interests and make all of that visible to professional contacts, even if they haven’t yet friended you on Facebook, by making it public. That’s not to say that you’re not allowed to have any fun on your Timeline, but monitor your privacy settings closely.

[Related story: Facebook Privacy: 10 Must-Know Security Settings]

View as Someone Else

If you want to make sure your boss, business partners, or potential customers see what you want them to see on your Timeline, try the View As feature. This allows you to look at your timeline from the point of view of any of your Facebook friends so you can see exactly what is and isn’t visible to them.

To access View As, click on the gear icon next to the Activity Log button, and select View As from the drop-down menu. This should take you to a new version of your Timeline with a small message and a text field above the regular page. Just enter the name of any of your Facebook friend to see your timeline through their (virtual) eyes.


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