When the US Supreme Court last year ruled that same-sex couples would have the right to marry in all US states, Facebook gave users a new way to show their support for the historic announcement, activating an option for people to add a rainbow overlay to their profile image.
The tool proved extremely popular - millions of Facebook users around the world applied the rainbow filter. And while Facebook had provided similar profile image-altering tools previously, none had been applied on the scale of the rainbow frame. Facebook immediately saw new potential in such an offering.
Of course, the immediate parallel social media commentators saw was Snapchat - the option is very similar to Snapchat's geofilters, location activated image additions which are used in more than a million Snaps every day on the app.
Given the popularity of both, Facebook started making moves, and in October The Social Network introduced 'Team Frames' - sports-associated image filters which Facebook users could apply to their profiles to signal their support for, initially, college football teams.
The image additions can be added for an hour, a day or a week, before automatically reverting back to your original profile image, or you can switch them on and leave them as your permanent profile, if you choose. And while Facebook hasn't released ay official data on the use of 'Team Frames', you can assume they saw a good response, as soon after they released another new frame option, this time to celebrate the launch of the new Star Wars film.
The addition of a film into the mix opened the door to the possibility of commercial opportunities for the option. Just recently, Snapchat announced that geo-filters can now be purchased by brands or individuals, with prices starting from as low as $5, depending on the location range and duration within which you want the filter available. That capacity may prove to be a lucrative revenue source - not major, you'd think, but an interesting and low-maintenance option for Snapchat, and one that could bring in good money. Now imagine if Facebook, with their audience of 1.59 billion, also looked to monetize frames in a similar way.
Could be an interesting option, don't you think?
Today we got an indication that that may be exactly where Facebook is headed with frames. In a post about the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 cricket championships, which are currently being held in India, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that people from different regions were using frames to show their support for the various teams in the competition.
While the post itself reveals nothing significant, if you click on the link within it, you're taken to a listing of all the available Facebook frames, including some sections that haven't been populated as yet.
All up there are more than 280 frames currently available across 34 sections, enabling you to show your support for a heap of sporting teams and causes via your Facebook profile.
Given the breadth of options available, it's pretty easy to envision the monetization potential of such a tool. The Star Wars frame is a perfect example, and you can imagine there'd be a heap of brands - particularly in the entertainment sector - who'd been keen to add their own, creative overlay option to help connect with fans and promote their products at the same time.
The addition of frames as an ad product almost seem like a no-brainer for Facebook. They're easy to add, they're interactive. And also, given Facebook's recent acquisition of Masquerade, there could be an option for users to create animated profile pictures (which were also rolled out last year) themed with movie and TV show characters along the same lines - Zuckerberg himself posted a video to Facebook last week with a Masquerade overlay placing him in the Iron Man suit.
You think a major movie studio wouldn't be keen to see that as a Facebook profile image option? Imagine how many people would likely use such a tool in the lead up to the next superhero film, spreading free publicity and promotion for the movie all throughout Facebook's network. It's a fun, interesting option that users will respond to - it would make perfect sense to see Facebook announce a new Frames ad option in the very near future.
And what's more, the use of Frames provides Facebook with even more data. Back in 2013, when the US Supreme Court began debating the future of same-sex marriage, The Human Rights Campaign called on Facebook users to change their profile image to the red and pink equal symbol to show their support for marriage equity. Three million people did, and Facebook subsequently went on to study how that implementation played out, examining how users showed their support for the cause, where the users most sympathetic to the cause were located and what additional factors lead to people changing their profile image.
Such insight could prove extremely valuable, not only in terms of future targeting of related campaigns by the associated groups, but also in regards to how support for causes spreads throughout the network, and what additional factors move people to taking action. In the case of sports teams of films, seeing where their products are getting the most traction could help improve targeting and promotional focus, or subsequent merchandise activations around the same subject.
Given the popularity of visual content across social media platforms, and the power such tools can have to boost brand awareness, it's pretty likely that we're going to see a lot more Facebook frames coming up in the near future.
Have you got a great idea for a frame that could help boost your brand? Note it down, your chance might be coming up sooner than you think.