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The interwebs have been ablaze with news of Facebook’s newest change for a good week. Today, they made their official announcement about upcoming changes to the News Feed.
We knew it was coming, but what does it mean?
Staying consistent with Facebook's power of threes approach (e.g. three pillars), they based the changes to the News Feed UI, which to many looks similar to that of Google+ on three elements:
- Rich Stories. Facebook has shifted 180 degrees from the more text heavy feed that we’ve known for so long, to a look that puts visual media at the forefront. At the announcement, Facebook director of design Julie Zhu described this change as, “A richer, simpler, more beautiful Newsfeed – on both desktop web, and mobile. Focused on the things you care about. What your friends are saying. What your network is sharing.”
- Choice of Feeds. The announcement made sure to highlight the users’ ability to filter their News Feed so that they are only getting the information that they want. They have even gone so far as to base the Switcher interface on the frequency of your feed use. In other words, if you look at the posts from your Close Friends more than your Most Recent posts, your list of filters will reflect that fact.
- Mobile Inspired, consistent UI. One may say that Facebook has decided to listen to its users because they have decided to define and provide a much more consistent experience across all platforms. This may be the most important change when we think about how people, across the board, think about their experience on the social network.
Marketers, take heed
During the announcement, Mashable editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff observed that this new interface may very well demote conversation. With this in mind, what are the benefits for brands that market and tell their stories on Facebook?
- The change is designed to increase user engagement. We’ve had plenty of conversation around the fact that pictures and video breed more engagement than text-heavy or text specific posts. Visual assets that now span 403px in width will, after the change span 552 px in News Feed. Clearly to Facebook, bigger is better.
- The Following feed avails more opportunity for brand content to be seen. This form of discovery increases the distribution of your messages and a user viewing that feed, at the very least, shows user intent to find out what a brand is doing. As a brand, be sure to create the right type of content so you don’t miss this chance to communicate and leave a lasting positive impression. Please note: during the initial rollout there will be no paid opportunities in the Following feed. Stay tuned.
- The increase in literal visibility translates to Page posts, ads and sponsored stories. The Paid, Owned & Earned model has probably just grown even more in importance and, subsequently, in popularity.
While this UI transformation is visually a big deal, it hasn’t changed the way in which you should be creating and circulating your content. According to Facebook, this change will not immediately impact performance, has not changed the News Feed algorithm or changed the necessary assets in a major way. If you keep creating the right kind of content – content that your consumers truly want – this change will only enhance your messages.
Now the floor is open. What are your thoughts on these changes?