A few days ago Facebook announced the launch of a new page design for personal profiles. This new format features a large banner area at the top of the page. It is similar to the recent trend in web design that displays a large image on the homepage. Facebook calls this banner your “Cover.” You can add any image you want and change it as often as you like.

As a marketer I began to drool the minute I saw this unveiled. Most people will upload an interesting or funny photograph, but it presents a fabulous opportunity for business marketing and personal branding.

I immediately got to work on creating my Cover image – a screenshot of my new personal profile page is above.

While this is currently published on my Facebook profile, it is only visible to those who have application developer status, so only a few of my Facebook friends can see it at this time. On September 29, 2011, Facebook will begin to shift profiles over to this new format and it will then be visible to everyone.

As you can see I created a custom graphic image that displays my company name and website URLs. The URLs are not live links but I did manage to make the banner interactive with a QR Code that is scannable and takes you to a mobile version of my website. If you are unfamiliar with QR Codes, it is the bar code in the lower left corner of the banner. You need a QR Code app on your smartphone in order to scan it.

Let me take a moment to clarify that the Facebook Terms of Service states that your personal profile has to be a real person and should not be used for financial gain. This is a bit loosely defined and not fully enforced, but I highly recommend that you do your direct business promotions on a Facebook Business Page, rather than your personal profile.

What I am recommending in this article is within the Terms of Service. I do sometimes talk about what I do in my business on my personal profile, but I never directly pitch my services. That would be a quick way to get “unfriended” and is, in my opinion, unprofessional. If you want a presence for your business on Facebook, create a Facebook Page that people “Like” rather than “Friend.”

Now….back to your profile Cover. If you want to get started now and set up your new profile, you can find instructions on Tech Crunch.

As you can see, this is fairly straightforward. As of next Thursday you will have a new “canvas” on your Facebook profile on which you can feature whatever you want. It’s one of the best of the recent changes on Facebook and is ideal for getting the word out about your professional identity.

At Christine Green Consulting, we will certainly now include the optimization of the Facebook profile banner in our client’s strategic marketing plans.

I look forward to seeing the creative ways these banners will be used!