Last week, Facebook rolled out the Facebook Timeline to all users. While the timeline has the potential to embarrass some users who might have inappropriate photos buried along their timeline, the cover image might be an opportunity for nonprofits to engage their champions to help spread the word about the organization.
The Ocean Conservancy has done just that! They are offering “wall paper” and “covers” with wonderful photos of the ocean and ocean life to supporters to install on their personal Facebook profiles. Here’s the link to the landing page with images.
I’ve been hearing from some nonprofits that they have these in the works or are using them. I personally love the idea. It has been used on Facebook by some commercial brands like ABC (hat tip to Vickie McMurchie). It isn’t clear whether or not if nonprofits did to promote social good causes if this would be a violation of Facebook rules around use of cover images, though. And, whether or not that is the most effective way to spread the mission, perhaps using the open social graph apps or simply commenting as individual on your brand page is better. The technique of creating images for social media profiles for a cause has been used by many nonprofits on Twitter and other sites.
Ali Carlson from Global Giving pointed me to this post from Mari Smith talking about the issue of commercial content on cover pages. Here’s what Mari had to say about it:
Clearly, Facebook want to prevent users from outright commerce on their profile/Timeline, and use of the Cover image for advertising. But outright commerce surely means something like users shouldn’t sell advertising space? Or, that we should have no commercial content? Hm.
The one rule Facebook has in its Terms regards how we cannot use our profiles commercially is this (Section 4.4):
“You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).”
This rule has been around for several years. It makes perfect sense – users cannot derive financial gain directly from their profiles. That’s what Facebook ads are designed for. And, of course, Facebook (fan) Pages are the primary product Facebook offers for building a business presence.