When Facebook announced Timeline in September last year, a key new feature was the ability to define different types of “life events.” Events such as starting a new job, entering a new relationship or getting married, making a home improvement, getting a tattoo. The idea behind Life Events was to better structure Timeline data. Unfortunately for Facebook, very few people are using Life Events.
Facebook really wants us to use Life Events. The company thinks they’re so important that it stars them for you automatically (meaning they are given more prominence on your Timeline). Life Events are also public by default, although you can change that setting before you publish.
Yet hardly any of my friends use Life Events on a regular basis. I scrolled down my Facebook homepage just now and didn’t see a single Life Event from any of my friends! I myself have only entered two life events since the feature was introduced – and one of those was a test. I haven’t entered a Life Event into Facebook since January, despite having had my fair share of them in real life. For example I’ve traveled overseas a couple of times so far this year, but I didn’t enter that travel into Facebook as Life Events.
I’m not the only one not using Life Events very often. Mark Zuckerberg has only publicly listed one Life Event in 2012: his marriage on May 19 this year.
OK, Life Events are not supposed to be daily. But I’d wager that over the past six months Mark Zuckerberg has traveled, or started a hobby, or made some home improvements, or did another of Facebook’s 36 life events. It’s possible he has entered more Life Events and just not made them public. But given Facebook’s push for users to make more public updates (including making Life Events public by default), it would be odd if Zuckerberg isn’t eating the dog food.
What Life Events Are & Why Facebook Wants Us To Use Them
When Timeline launched, it turned your Facebook profile into a colorful, easily searchable timeline of your life. Theoretically, Life Events would enable you to search any Facebook profile not just chronologically, but by event type.
This is what Life Events looks like now, on your Timeline:
This is what it looked like on your Timeline last September, when it first launched:
As you can see, the Life Events option has been redesigned since its initial launch. Also a couple of life events have changed titles: ‘Living’ became ‘Home & Living’ and ‘Milestones and Experiences’ became ‘Travel & Experiences’.
There are 36 life events in total, not counting the catch-all ‘Other Life Event’. Some of the specific life events go more granular too, for example under ‘Travel & Experiences’ > ‘First Word, Kiss, Other…’ you can then choose between six different “firsts”: word, kiss, flight, vote, drink, other.
Although each Life Event has different options and text fields, you are always prompted to add the following things:
- Event name
- Who With
- When (date)
- Story (optional)
These are the basic elements of a life event.
Incidentally, this illustrates why Facebook is so keen to improve its photo capabilities. It bought Instagram earlier this year for a highly publicized $1 billion, it launched its own mobile photo app called Facebook Camera, and it acquired face recognition service Face.com. All of this because photos are a key part of Timeline. As Kevin Kelleher put it in our coverage of the Face.com purchase, “Facebook is cornering the market of what we used to call Kodak moments. They are becoming Facebook moments.”
Will People Ever Start Using Life Events?
As noted above, very few of my friends are entering Life Events into Facebook. So Facebook Timeline remains largely unstructured, as least in terms of what users enter into it.
Let us know if you are using Life Events and if so, how often?