Facebook is always experimenting with ways to make its visual elements more enticing, in order to drive higher engagement and keep people interested. For example, Facebook added colored backgrounds for text updates in 2016, tested different colored text and backgrounds for comments in 2017, and added video and 360 options for profile cover photos last year, among other updates.
And now, there may be a new visual consideration incoming on The Social Network. According to reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong, Facebook is now experimenting with a new set of layout options for multi-image updates, which would enable users to choose different presentation styles for their images.
As you can see in these screenshots, shared by Wong on Twitter, the new process would give users a set of four different presentation options for multi-image uploads within a single post. You could choose to highlight certain feature images, or give your post a more dynamic style, or even a colored background, dependent on how you wanted them to look.
The tools seem fairly easy to use - which is key for Facebook - and could provide some more interesting post options. Though as with all generic templates, they could also get pretty stale pretty quickly.
Interestingly, Instagram has also rolled out something along similar lines. As part of the app's new Camera update, which is rolling out this week, Instagram has added some new templates for Stories frames, which generate randomly when you tap on the dice icon at the top of the screen.
Instagram add a new option called templates. With the user can create a very good and attractive story.#instagram #instagramupdate pic.twitter.com/bLBIxCgnUE— Satyam (@Satyam_sinha_) October 9, 2019
As you can see in this example, shared by user @Satyam_sinha, the new templates offer creative ways to engage your audience, with 'Quote of the Day', 'Quickdraw Challenge' and 'What I'm listening to' frames that users can fill in.
Which does seem a little weird - I mean, if you can't think of updates for yourself, is your social media profile really representative of you? You are, of course, adding your own personalization in, but much like Facebook's own update suggestions, which it's tried out in several forms, it seems a little strange that the platform would look to tell you what you might want to share.
But then again, if it helps Facebook and/or Instagram generate more engagement, they'll do it, and while, as noted, these types of generic templates can get stale, they do provide some extra prompts to get you thinking of other engagement-boosting options. That's particularly relevant for brands, who need to stay front of mind with their audiences - if you're not sure what to post, prompts like these can at least help get you thinking.
On Facebook image formats, there is potential there, and for Instagram, if it can keep adding in new templates, or refreshing those available, it could be an interesting addition.