Breathe easy, this isn’t a Law & Order SVU episode. This week at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced that anyone can now develop frames (known on Snapchat as “filters”) to overlay on top of static photos, videos and Facebook Live streams. The tool, called Frame Studio, is half of Facebook’s new Camera Effects Platform, with AR Studio making up the other half. And while AR Studio has its own set of implications, currently it’s only available to developers via an application. Frame Studio, however, is yours for the taking now—so let’s dive in and frame this opportunity.
images via Facebook
How does it work?
Creating the frame involves designing your original art in an image editor, then building the frame in Facebook’s desktop web-editor. Art should hug the edges to frame the photo or video, and text or graphics should live at the bottom or top of the page. You can then add a start and end date to the frame, and you have the option to target by location or keyword. Once Facebook gives the thumbs up (wait time is currently estimated at one week), the frame will live in the Facebook camera or in Profile frames for your friends and Page fans to use, and to give credit where it’s due, your name will appear for all to see when a user previews the frame or posts it to his or her News Feed.
Frames > Filters
If your first thought is “this is simply a copycat of Snapchat’s On-Demand Geofilters,” you’re not alone. The design and function are identical. However, while Facebook has been candid thus far about copying various aspects of Snapchat, there is one key difference that could give Facebook a leg up on the original ephemeral platform: though Facebook frames can be geo-targeted, it’s not a requirement.
Compare this to Snapchat’s On-Demand Geofilters, which require you to pay for a specific time slot in a geo-fenced area. This means that anyone can design a frame and release it to their Facebook friends or Page fans anywhere, all while getting credit for each use. The result will be a bottomless pool of frame options that Facebook users can employ to express themselves no matter where they are, while Snapchat users are either constricted to the geo-fenced area for which they paid or left running around to find the latest geofilter in their vicinity. Facebook frames give complete power to the platform’s massive user base, making creative expression easier and more diverse than ever. And let’s not forget the kicker—Facebook’s tool is free.
Make Way for Branded Frames
While branded frames are not a current option, Facebook will undoubtedly cash in on frames’ potential to connect brands to consumers sometime in the near future. Since frames can be shared by Pages with their fans, frames from brands created exclusively for their Facebook audiences are certainly in our future. And considering that frames can be created by anyone (no coding skills or cash required), they will also likely be a way for brands to source unlimited branded content from their fans. For example, a brand could incentivize its fans with a contest or promotional code to submit branded frames.
Because frames can be used regardless of a user’s geographic location, branded frames will be more readily available to fans compared to the Snapchat’s branded geofilters that change daily. Fans will be able to show brand appreciation by decorating their photos and videos with branded frames whenever they please, and they will come to expect frame options from their favorite brands. Eventually, having a branded frame (or a full set) will be a requirement for socially savvy brands on Facebook. Bottom line? Prepare yourself for the branded frame frenzy—geofilters are so last season.
Sara Nettesheim, Social Strategist, DigitasLBi Chicago