Four billion. It’s a massive number. Perhaps not the case if you’re counting stars in our Milky Way, or tallying up all of the Earth’s grains of sand (which is seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion for those counting). But, “four billion” in social networking is not to be ignored, and that’s the number of times Facebook profiles are visited every day.
For an area on Facebook that is visited so frequently, it makes sense that Zuckerberg & Co. wants to keep this area fresh, new, playful, and interactive. That’s why Facebook is beginning to roll out new features for Facebook profiles on mobile devices (iOS to start, and Android coming soon after). There are three improvements that give you more control over your profile page, and specifically, more opportunities to show the world your true personality, interests, and identity.
1. Looping Profile Videos
Instead of a static photo as your profile picture, Facebook will allow you to have a short video (essentially a custom, personalized GIF) as your featured profile image. This adds an extra, interactive layer to your profile page, allowing you to showcase yourself in new and creative ways, especially if it’s the first time someone is discovering who you really are.
2. More Control and Profile Personalization
Your “About” section includes personal information, from occupation and university to relationship status and religion. There’s quite a bit of information to be seen in your profile’s “About” section, and many of us choose to hide that from our friends. Facebook wants us to take back control of our profile by enabling people to not only display the specific information, but also choose which friends can see which details. With this flexibility, you can choose to show different things to classmates, work colleagues, family members, and any other segments of friends you’d like.
Along with these visibility settings, Facebook is also adding a one-line bio to the top of profile page. This customizable space allows you to showcase your personality, interests, and identity. You’ll also be able to select up to five “Featured Photos” to be showcased at the top of your profile, which is similar to Cover Photos but more visible and easier to navigate.
3. Temporary Profile Pictures
Facebook recognizes that your life changes everyday, and so too should your profile picture (and video, as we now know). In an era when days of the week have their own unique hashtags, such as Throwback Thursday (#tbt), it’s important for individuals to represent themselves in as many ways possible. On top of profile videos, Facebook will allow you to change your profile picture for a certain amount of time. Facebook alludes to the 26 million individuals that changed their profile picture to the “Celebrate Pride” filter within Facebook when the U.S. legalized same-sex marriage.
These temporary profile pictures can be used to support your favorite sports team, celebrate your best friend’s birthday, or highlight a cause you feel strongly about. Whatever the reason is, it will soon be possible to change your profile picture for a specific amount of time before automatically reverting back to your original profile picture or video.
BONUS FEATURE: New Layout and Profile Design Changes
Mobile profiles will be displayed in more visual ways. Facebook is shifting your profile picture to the center, and making it larger too. Also featured more prominently on your mobile profile are “Photos” and “Friends” which make it easier to get to know someone you recently met, or someone you just want to search for in Facebook.
What Marketers Should Start Thinking About
While these changes only impact people on Facebook (although many of the same updates on individual profiles end up on Pages as well), it’s still worth thinking about if you’re a marketer, community manager, or any digital professional.
Looping profile videos present an opportunity to turn your customers and fans into advocates and champions of your brand. If you have a dedicated enough community that cares deeply about your brand, you can create a video filter or template for individuals to use on their own profiles. Or, make it easy for people to use a custom, branded profile picture that they can set for a certain amount of time.
We’ll likely see television networks utilizing this feature to further connect their programming to Facebook conversations about the show or event. It’s also relevant for event marketers that want to enable individuals to set their profile picture for the duration of an event, such as a music festival, sports competition, political campaign, or product launch. Only time will tell how people and brands use these new features, but at the very least, it’s a drastic change to your profile.