On 7th March, Facebook introduced one of the largest updates to their News Feed since the site launch. The new design aims at reducing clutter on the Home Page to make stories more visually appealing. This redesign also helps the users in sorting through the overflowing updates and stories to find the ones that matter the most to them. This new redesign will for sure improve user experience on Facebook, and most users have expressed positive reviews about it. The users are happy, but what about the marketers? Does this redesign helps the marketers in reaching their potential customers or it creates a barrier between the two. Let’s review how this change is going to impact the marketers, their reach and strategies.
1. The filtration of content is now controlled by users
First and foremost thing to understand is that this is only a visual redesign of Facebook News Feed, the algorithms used by Facebook which determines which content comes first has not changed. The redesign gives a much greater options to the users in terms of how the content is filtered. Users now have the option to view the standard News Feed or filter content of this News Feed through a variety of categories like:
- Photos: Shows only photo stories and photo updates.
- Music: Updates from bands and singers the user Likes on Facebook as well as updates related to music by their friends.
- Following: Updates from brand Pages and celebrities the user is following.
- All Friends: Updates from all users added in the friend list of a user.
One possible way the new News Feed benefits the marketers is that with a separate “Following” feed option, users will be able to filter and view direct content from the celebrities and brands they Like, content that many a times remains hidden in-between updates from family or friends that users are more likely to take notice of. How many Facebook users will continue using the more familiar standard News Feed is not yet know. Although, it is predicted that the Photos and Music feeds are going to be popular and most used in the coming times. How does the Facebook users adapt to the new Facebook news feed will be more clear when this Facebook feed is available for use by each and every user. Facebook is still in the process of rolling out this update.
A potential disadvantage of this feature is that it would lead to fragmentation of the audience of a Facebook brand, creating a hurdle when a brand wishes to post a message for mass users. The task of reaching the desired audience will now require more creative planning by the marketers.
2. Visual Content to Rule
The next top, most prominent change on Facebook is that the stories in the News feed will be much bigger and more engaging. Photos, articles, events, links anything that one posts will appear bigger and more more prominent. Here are few examples:
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- When a user Likes a Page, his activity will be displayed along with the Cover Photo of the Page that has been Liked.
- A check-in update by a friend will be displayed along with a map to the restaurant.
- Advertisements, sponsored stories and posts on Pages will now allow the marketers to post bright creatives and engaging visual messages.
- Video content from sites like YouTube and Vimeo will have the same privilege as the one received by all Facebook videos. The users can now view all videos in full-width and within News Feed.
- Any link that is published will feature larger thumbnails and better text extracts unlike before.
The few of the above stated changes will benefit most of the marketers, but it will also add-on the pressure to come up with engaging and more visually compelling content. One can easily say that a picture is worth ‘10,000’ words on Facebook, hence, the marketers need to carefully choose the visuals keeping in mind that they represent the image of the brand in a positive manner. Instead of stressing about it, the marketers should treat the new design as an opportunity to post compelling photos or videos to increase engagement with the followers of the Page.
3. Even the Ads will be more engaging
The changes made to Ad display is also substantial. On the whole the Ad space has increased, the Page Like updates now include a cover photo of the Page, providing the users with more content about the brand. This update especially requires the brands to update their cover photo more often to create a sync between the paid advertisements. The original Ad space provided by Facebook on the right-hand panel has grown. Facebook says that users show greater interest in personalized News Feeds, it definitely indicates that embedded ads might prove to be more relevant and help in generating greater ROI for marketers. Wait! There is a catch, the Hide button is also now much more prominent, which gives the users a way out when they are not keen on seeing your Ads. The pressure to provide the fans and users with true added value is so on!
4. Consistency offered across all devices
Once the new Facebook News feed is completely rolled out the users will experience amazing consistency across all devices be it computers, smartphones, tablets or laptops. As a matter of fact, this particular feature does not seem to affect the marketers in any significant manner. This feature only makes the ‘Facebook experience’ more consistent and clutter free on all devices for all users. It does signify that marketers now need to pay greater attention to visuals, photos, links or product descriptions to make them easily viewable on all devices.
The complete roll-out of the redesigned Facebook News Feed is expected to take approximately six months. One can signup on the Facebook’s waiting list to be on the priority list to get the new design. The six month’s time will provide the brands and marketers some breathing space to plan their content strategy for Facebook and be prepared for the new challenges ahead.