Facebook has recently launched it’s Canvas tool which they call an immersive, exploratory experience. I’ve seen similar executions in the past on websites, but in short, it create a tool to build multimedia experiences more easily. Canvas exists with the understanding that it would be used with an ad spend – and no wonder, it requires a long time to get something that looks good!
So what does Canvas look like?
It looks a bit like a microsite, optimised for mobile, that pulls in all of Facebook’s key media types: photos, carousel photos, video, text, buttons. You can arrange these however you like.
You can see the one I created here to experiment, however, it will ONLY be visible if you are viewing on your mobile device! (For those on a desktop, the link will appear as an error.)
For those on web, here’s some screengrabs to give you the gist of the one I created. With time, designers and beautiful assets, you can see the potential of what Canvas could create – not that I had those this time around!
To create a Canvas, you need to create a status on your page while in your Page business manager, then select Photos and Videos. You are then given access to the Canvas building tool in a pop up.
When creating with Facebook’s Canvas:
Plan it out
Facebook’s Canvas tool is fiddly. It’s not difficult – just fiddly. I found the interface jumps around a lot if you’re uploading a lot of content and if you don’t upload all the content to the correct specs, you get error messages all over the place.
It pays to plan out what you’re going to build with Canvas, so set up and resize your assets before going in.
Here is a full list of items Facebook Canvas according to Facebook:
- Header with logo
- Full-screen image
- Text block
- Button for offsite links
- Image carousel
- Auto-play video
- Full-screen tilt-to-pan image
Don’t forget to consider what URL each of these items click through to, as most of these require a hyperlink.
What images are you going to use? Are these images going to be standalone, or in a Facebook Carousel?
The largest size of images are 1,080 px (w) x 1,920 px (h). This is the size I created my main images. The Canvas builder preview isn’t really the most accurate in terms of how it will look as a finished product – so don’t rely on that from a visual perspective!
The other thing to keep in mind is that all the images in the carousel need to be the same size. I tested this by resizing all my carousel images to be 1080 x 1080 px.
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Video can’t run for longer than 2 minutes, with a minimum resolution of 720p. On top if this, they recommend using portrait, not landscape view (which is basically the opposite of how everyone films. Awks!).
However, as you can see from my example, if you use a landscape video, it looks fine in the finished product.
Keep in mind that videos autoplay with sound – so it might be a good idea to put videos near the bottom of your Canvas if you don’t want to startle people with unexpected music as soon as they open your Canvas!
You need a colour scheme to make this look good before you start. It has a customisable title bar and customisable buttons, which will only look good if you use a swish looking colour palette.
Make your tile/navigation bar is the same colour as your buttons. If you don’t have a colour scheme for your brand, check out ColourLovers.com to get some ideas.
Have a transparent logo handy, or a title of your Canvas, to put on the header bar. This needs to be 66 px (h) x 882 (w).
If you need client approvals, I’ll be honest – it might be a little tricky.
When you create a Canvas, it creates a ‘microsite’ URL, which you post like you would any other URL on Facebook to publish it.
However, you only get this link after you publish your Canvas.
There is a ‘preview Canvas’ link, which you can use before you publish to see what it look like – but these notifications took about half an hour to appear on my mobile device in my Facebook notifications, so I just published it. Unless you share an account with whoever is approving your Canvas content, they won’t be able to see if before it’s live.
On top of this, there is no way to edit it a Canvas once it’s published. I would recommend keeping all assets handy in neat folders for a few weeks, because if there are any changes, you may need to rebuild it from scratch. And people always notice that typo just after you’ve deleted all the original assets, right?!
Quirks with publishing
It’s also worth adding a disclaimer about bugs with publishing it overall – after publishing it, I received and error message, but it appeared on my mobile newsfeed a few minutes later.
And, the finished Canvas cannot be seen on your Facebook Page on the web at all – so your boss/client/BFF will need to take your word for it that the Canvas is live if they don’t have a mobile to check it out.
Canvas is an interesting tool that can be used to create some vibrant multimedia environments. Seeing this themed around different topics, using a variety of media types could be really engaging. It will be interesting to see what happens.
On the one hand, because it’s so time-consuming to create (it took maybe an hour or two to create the Canvas in my example), I can see that a lot of people simply won’t bother. On the other hand, having an easy-to-use, accessible multimedia tool could mean that journalists and publishers have the opportunity to showcase their content in fast, nimble ways, without the heavy dev time to create rich pieces of content, means there might be a lot of interesting work in this space. If you haven’t seen what The Guardian Interactive, in doing with interactive content, you haven’t lived.
What is probably most interesting, however, is Facebook’s overall shift to being a content publisher – housing and hosting rich media. With Instant Articles and now Canvas, we’re seeing more and more reasons for consumers not to leave Facebook, which high-tech media tools available at the fingertips of publishers. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!
Have you been experimenting with Canvas? What’s been working? What are your findings? Let me know in the comments!