Facebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know

Well it’s about that time again everyone. If you’ve played in the Facebook sandbox long enough, you know that constant change is part of Facebook’s drive to keep users engaged. It’s vital to keep the community alive, and most importantly, keep advertising dollars rolling in for the social network. It just so happens that the news feed is the most important piece of the Facebook ecosystem (precisely why this is a big deal!).

Facebook News Feed Changes that “Might” Have an Impact on Marketers

So what exactly is changing about the news feed design? Well I’m glad you asked. My short answer is the changes are DRASTIC. The more helpful and long answer starts right about now:

1. BIGGER Photos

Visual content has always been a core feature of Facebook. Now Zuckerberg and gang are making photos and videos even more prominent in the news feed. According to a recent report by Mashable, photos will make up nearly 50% of newsfeed stories.

You will also notice text overlaid in photo updates. I’ve heard from multiple sources that page admins might have some control over text overlay, but it’s not certain at this point in time.

Before

Facebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know image facebook newsfeed pictures before1Facebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know

After

Facebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know image facebook newsfeed pictures afterFacebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know

What This Means to Marketers

When planning your initiatives for the quarter/year, think about how you can tell your story through images. If you’re not the creative type and you have the budget, invest in a designer or photographer.

With text overlay remember to keep your copy short and to the point. You want your photos to be front and center.

2. More Feeds

I suppose Facebook looked at what Google+ is doing with circles and added their own twist. On the upper right side of every page, you will have several feeds to choose from. Facebook realized that people wanted more choice on what content they see. It will be interesting to see if people actually use the different feeds.

Facebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know image facebook newsfeed feedsFacebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know

These are the default feeds with a short description of how they distribute content:

  • News Feed – uses the Edgerank algorithm to serve you the most relevant content
  • Most Recent – chronological order of all content.
  • All Friends – chronological order of your friends’ updates. No ads or page posts.
  • Photos – chronological order of all photos from friends and pages you like.
  • Music – chronological order of artists’ updates and what your friends are listening to.
  • Following – chronological order of people you follow (aka Britney Spears) and pages you like.
  • Games – chronological order of updates from games you play and what your friends are playing.
  • Groups – chronological order of updates from groups you are a part of.

What This Means to Marketers

The new feed structure could be a benefit or burden to marketers, depending on how you look at it. With the glass half full, you have the opportunity to show up in multiple feeds if your content is being shared by multiple people. With the glass half empty, people could miss important updates from your page if they only look at feeds which do not include page posts. Of course this is a benefit to music and gaming companies if those are the two feeds you view. :)

My best advice is to focus on what your evangelists love. Give them what they want, and your content will spread to the other feeds.

3. Experience from Mobile to Desktop is Fluid

Another big reason why the redesign was initiated was that the mobile experience was inconsistent with the desktop. According to Paul Chaney on Practical E-Commerce, 68% of users access Facebook from a mobile device, so it makes sense to allow easy rendering on multiple devices (modern web design 101).

Facebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know image facebook newsfeed mobileFacebook News Feed Redesign: What Marketers Need to Know

What This Means to Marketers

If you were in love with the side bar ads before, you’re going to be pretty disappointed when I tell you that you are going to receive less visibility. The reason why is that the left and right side bars are being reduced in width to emphasize news feed content. But don’t fret; sponsored stories (or promoted posts) will receive greater visibility if you share engaging pictures and videos. It’s a matter of shifting budget.

I will leave you with these 4 pieces of advice to work within the Facebook sandbox once the redesign is rolled out to the greater masses:

• Visualize your brand stories through photos and videos
• Keep your text light
• Focus on your evangelists to spread your content
• Experiment more with mobile and desktop advertising in newsfeed posts.

Are you excited or nervous for the news feed design changes? Will you do anything different, or will you stay on course? Let me know in the comments below.

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