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What could the future of Facebook mean for brands?

If you are one of the many millions of people who choose to use Facebook as a social media platform, then you will no doubt have noticed that in recent months there has been a trend emerging in which individuals have been temporarily changing their Facebook profile picture in accordance with major events that have been happening around the world. 

Back in June our Facebook feeds were awash with rainbow stripes as the world showed its support and celebrated the landmark decision from the Supreme Court in the USA to allow same-sex marriage in all states. Facebook reported that over 26 million of us made the decision to change our profile picture to one depicting the pride flag and although users had shown support for such causes in a similar way in the past, this was the first of this scale. 

This idea evolved somewhat in November 2015 when the devastating terrorist attacks that took place in Paris also prompted millions to share their sadness and support by temporarily changing their pictures once again, to display the colours of the French flag. 

Facebook have spoken about how the new change allows users to express themselves more:

“We often see people use their profile pictures to support a cause, root for a team and commemorate milestones like birthdays and anniversaries. Temporary profile pictures make it easier to express who you are and how you’re feeling at a given moment, without having to worry about changing your profile picture back later.”

However, whilst a huge number of users have chosen to show their support or appreciation for major world news events in this way, Facebook have now chosen to take this a step further by adding brands into the mix. This has been demonstrated with the release of the hotly anticipated Star Wars film The Force Awakens. Users were given the opportunity to add a light saber to their profile pictures in order to reflect their interest and excitement for the iconic film. 

Arguably the release of the latest Star Wars is a major milestone in cinematic history but it's also a perfect example of a worldwide brand becoming a part of a Facebook users profile picture. It wouldn't be too far of a stretch to see this tool being used for other global or national brands to allow users to show their allegiance to brands they believe are a part of them.

Take a user for example who would proudly display a Nike logo over their Facebook profile when training for a race, or a user who wants to show their support for a charity during a fundraising campaigns, or a user showing support for their team during a sporting event. Brands could even begin to use this technology as a promotional tool, “Put our logo over your profile picture today to be in with a chance to win….”, imagine the vast awareness that this would give brands.

By choosing to update their online profile picture, a user isn't just saying this is something I agree with. This is how I wish to be seen. This is a part of who I am. It would be the user’s choice to show their support in the brand and therefore showing they are proud to be immersed in that brand. Of course brands would need to work hard at making users do this and it wouldn’t necessarily be easy but with Facebook being so savvy to commercial success, this could potentially be a new feature that brands can take advantage of in their marketing campaigns.