Adding to its ever-expanding arsenal of features, Facebook yesterday began implementing a system of verification for high-profile users. The company also recently announced plans to roll out its once controversial Timeline feature for brand pages, a development poised to significantly change the way businesses socially market their products.
Offering prominent public figures the chance to personally verify their accounts and display a nickname instead of their birth name, verified profiles is a feature some have seen as long overdue on Facebook. Beginning as an invite-only scheme, selected figures will be required to provide a scan of government-issued photo ID in order for Facebook to ratify their identity. Despite Facebook’s often shady privacy standards, the company has promised to destroy this data after the verification process has been completed.
Once verified, the account will be more likely to appear in the “People To Subscribe To” suggestions and the user will be given the option to enter an “alternate” name. Techcrunch cites the example of Lady Gaga who, prior to this development, would have had to use her real name (Stefani Germanotta) for her profile but could now choose to be listed as “Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga)” or simply “Lady Gaga”. These names will be manually approved to ensure they are accurate stage names, pen names or any other moniker. Lady Gaga could not, for example, decide to call herself “Overlord of the Meat Dress Populace” (however accurate it may be).
The process of verification is by no means new, with Twitter implementing it in 2009 and Google + incepting a similar process shortly after their launch last year. Unlike their two rivals, however, where verification is noted via blue tick icons, there will be no denotation for verified accounts on Facebook. This comes as a surprise to many as the primary reason for verification, at this point, is for users to distinguish between real and imitation accounts.
Brand Pages Timeline
In addition to profile verification, Facebook will soon introduce their Timeline for brand pages. Currently only available on user profiles, Facebook’s VP-Global Marketing Solutions David Fischer said the brand page timelines would offer a“consistent” look-and-feel with the user equivalent but would not be exactly the same.
Judging by the style of the Timeline, the change will allow companies to move towards a more visual marketing strategy and away from the often text-heavy promotion currently predominant. Another benefit of the Timeline is the ability for a company to populate their history. Apple could, for example, post when the first Macintosh was released in 1984. This opens up the possibility for a vast catalogue of information to be associated with a brand page.
Initially available to only a few beta users, the update will be rolled out in stages and while details are currently rather sparse, Facebook is expected to elaborate on the update at fMC later this month, the company’s first event aimed specifically at marketers.