Though most of us who signed up to beta test Graph Search are still waiting for our golden tickets (cough, cough), Facebook announced another major change on Thursday, March 7th: a News Feed redesign. We briefly touched on Friday, but let’s take a deeper look at how this News Feed layout will impact us both as users and as businesses.
The New News Feed
Facebook touts three features that they believe will enhance the user experience:
The new look highlights photos, giving them more real estate within the feed and creating more white space around them so they really stand out. What’s more, they have changed the way photo albums are shared so that you will be able to glance at the update in your News Feed and get a sense of what the entire album is about. Items that have been popular with your friends will be called out, so the story or video will be the main focus with the images for the friends who are talking about it on the left side. Thus, the redesign allows for engaging story telling through the use of photos. The enhancement will also be tied to check-ins and status updates displaying larger map and images related to posts you share.
Choice of Feeds
The main feed is still available, but now users will have the ability to choose from an number of different feeds to segment their content into, such as Photos, Friends, Following, or Music. The outcome: an experience that is tailored to the user’s preferences. Believe it or not, this feature has been a part of Facebook for a while. You can currently follow interest lists and Pages even have their own feed. Still, with the new layout, the choice of feed will be more logical and more pronounced for users to find.
Consistency Across Mobile and Desktop
Facebook is adding the navigation bar that you see on the mobile site and app to the desktop and will maintain a consistent News Feed experience across platforms. This will allow users to access and navigate the site in the same manner on desktops, smartphones, and tablets. What’s more, using this navigation bar, you’ll be able to access any page on Facebook from any other page without having to first return to the home page.
As users, we couldn’t be more excited about the experience the fresh Facebook News Feed design will bring, but what does it mean for us as business owners and marketers? Let’s take a look at the opportunities and challenges that the new design brings from a marketing stand point.
Greater Space Dedicated to Visuals
Those of us have embraced visual marketing are ecstatic to hear that Facebook will be putting more of an emphasis on photos. You’ve worked hard creating engaging visuals like memes and infographics and sharing images of your products. Now they are going to have the chance to shine!
More Emphasis on Places
Now when customers check-in to your location, the map, description and image for your page will be larger in the New Feeds of their friends. Earning more space on the page leads to more vibrant and noticeable posts that their friends will be eager to check out. Furthermore, this feature allows you to cross over into the friends feed with content about your business, increasing your visibility across Facebook.
The Following Feed
Users will now be able to choose the Following feed to see content only from pages they are following. De-cluttering the feed by removing posts from their friends, updates from musical artists and other content belonging in other feeds increases the chances that they will not only see your posts, but dedicate more time to reading them. Furthermore, they will be opting in to the following feed, meaning they will be more receptive to the content they see there than they may be to posts on their general News Feeds.
Increased User Control
This is really a wild card. The ability to choose which feed you see can be great from a user standpoint, but poses a challenge for marketers using Facebook to connect with their audience. If users have the option to go to their friends feed and see content solely posted or created by their friends, it makes it extremely difficult to break through with your marketing without a user sharing your content. Yes, there is a Following feed, but we have no way of knowing if your customers will choose to view that feed on a regular basis. We’ll have to watch the trends to see if the main News Feed is still the most commonly used or if these segregated feeds gain traction. For now, you should be planning a well-rounded strategy. We’ve already discussed the importance engaging visual content to appear in the Photos feed and this may be a big opportunity, but you’ll also want to begin asking your customers to check in. This tactic will increase your visibility and allow you to break into the Friends feed. The challenge here is one for companies to focus on creating highly sharable content.
Greater Time Commitment
Increased user control means you will need to spend more time learning how to work within these new boundaries. It’s not about breaking down these walls, it’s about educating yourself on the new rules and using them to your advantage. Unfortunately, this is going to take a considerable time commitment. Hopefully you’ve already learned about visual marketing and started to incorporate it into your social media, but now you’re really going to have to kick it up a notch. Facebook is giving you the ability to share larger more captivating photos, so use it! Dedicate more time each week to creating visual pieces and taking and photos of your products. The challenge here is not developing visual content, it’s developing visual content that will really resonate with your If you’re sharing your blogs on Facebook, you should now not only be adding images to the blogs, but ensuring that these images are engaging and of considerable size. Finding the perfect images may be time consuming, but this strategy is best to take full advantage of the larger story previews offered with the new design. In addition, you may want to run a campaign asking customers to check-in in order to gain exposure in the general News Feed as well as in the Friends feed. Overall, a well-rounded Facebook marketing strategy is about to become more time consuming than ever before.
The moral here: Facebook’s fresh News Feed design is promising for both users and marketers but, like with any change, you’re going to need to adapt new behaviors and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.
Need help evolving with this new layout or simply don’t have the necessary time to dedicate for a successful Facebook campaign? Contact us for a free consultation to learn how we can help you connect with your consumers in the dynamic social media environment.