- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2012

It’s Facebook official: President Obama on Thursday became the most recent candidate in the 2012 election to switch to Timeline.

The new Facebook layout will play a big role in the president’s social-media efforts. He already is connecting with supporters on sites including Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Spotify.

“Everyone knows that President Obama has a very savvy social-media team,” said Francesca Chambers, editor and social-media manager at Red Alert Politics. “That’s why he won in 2008, because he had one of the best social-media campaigns that politics has ever seen. And that’s very much reflected in his new Facebook Timeline.”

Facebook Timeline offers a more visually friendly layout. It includes a cover photo in addition to the traditional profile picture, and that helps attract viewers. It also makes it easier to navigate through a candidate’s history in reverse chronological order.

Mr. Obama used the cover photo to display a graphic of his record on job creation.

“I think they did a really good job using the cover photo,” Ms. Chambers said. “It focuses on the issue that most Americans are concerned about: jobs.”

What’s more, “President Obama can switch his cover photo to match relevant issues he’s pushing along the campaign trail,” said Steph Parker, community manager for social media at Neiman, a marketing firm.

Mr. Obama also can use Facebook Timeline to post images from the campaign trail. It’s a smart political move that will capture the attention of young voters who would rather look at a photo or watch a video than read a status update, Ms. Chambers explained.

“The whole point of Timeline is the pictures,” she said, “because pictures are worth a thousand words.”

Facebook Timeline also makes it easier for Mr. Obama to tell the story of his campaign. He points out significant moments in his presidency, such as when he signed the health care bill, repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the armed forces and pulled the U.S. military out of Iraq.

The president takes a dig at “birther” conspiracy theorists by celebrating his birth on Aug. 4, 1961 with a picture of a coffee mug that displays his birth certificate and reads “Made in the USA.”

“It’s not exactly subtle,” said Brad Tidwell, founder of Infrared Productions, a new-media company that creates Facebook pages, “but it’s a good use of Timeline.”

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