By: Britnee Johnson
Over the last few years, Facebook has evolved brilliantly, avoiding the pitfalls of its social network ancestors from Xanga to Myspace. Much of the success has been due to its more subtle and natural use of advertising. Facebook limits customization and flagrant ads and makes marketers work hard for user attention.
Instead of banner ads and pop-ups, Facebook advertisers must savvily use ads and sponsored stories to be less invasive and more personal. But many marketers miss the visual “pop” of old fashioned (and admittedly, obnoxious) banner ads of yesteryear. Some clever brands have married the creativity and visual stimulus of old ad types with the more natural feel of Facebook’s new ad integrations by creating photo banners.
Now, individual users on Facebook can customize their images to create personal photo-streamed collages to make their personal and commercial pages stand out from the stock. Whether through a profile banner creator or manual compilations, these banners stand out both on your profile and in others’ news feeds.
A brand that is taking full advantage of the feature is HBO, which offers personalized profiles (reminiscent of MySpace), allowing the brand to capitalize off of loyal fans willing to champion their favorite show, as shown on HBO’s Game of Thrones page. Another great example is BMW, as it strategically draws in audiences to show-off the latest campaigns and avoid the familiar look-over with traditional advertising.
But brands aren’t the only ones catching on. Facebook users have created custom banners to showcase their photography, display their art pieces and even broadcast their business card or resume in a whole new way. Twitter has also recently jumped on the visualization bandwagon with their photo sharing menu that has an uncanny resemblance to Facebook’s similar functionality. Customization is so far not an option, but where there’s a clever developer or hacker, there’s a way.
Ultimately, both individuals and brands are finding the value in sharing images to amplify their message and stand out in the Facebook crowd of 750 million. As often as Facebook re-imagines features and functionalities, there is plenty of room for more customization in the future. So what’s next? The return of the customized profile? Videos in your top banner? Revamping of the infamous “poke” feature? Let us know your thoughts.