Whether you like it or not, Facebook is changing once again. This time the change comes to the news feed. Since it was first introduced in 2006, the news feed has remained largely untouched. In addition to several posts complaining and protesting the new changes, here is what to expect from the updated news feed.
Facebook “personalized newspaper”
In the March 7th press event, Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, likened the new design to a “personalized newspaper.” The news feed redesign features several feed categories of posts that users can click through including posts from all friends, posts of photos, music posts, game posts, posts from groups, and many more.
Marketers will also notice that there is a dedicated feed for updates from brands, products and celebrities that people follow. It is unclear if this means posts from brand pages will not appear on the main news feed.
Oddly enough, at this point, although it is compared to a personalized newspaper, there doesn’t appear to be a feed dedicated to news. The news feed also appears to lack the ability to create customized feeds similar to custom lists on Twitter.
Greater focus on Visuals
Although photos already account for about 50% of the news feed, the news feed changes will put an even greater emphasis on images. With the redesign, all posts will take up approximately 40% more of the news feed. Photos will stretch to cover the entire span of the post with the text describing the post appearing inside the photo.
Image appearing with links are also more prominent. While the content appearing with links remains the same, the image thumbnails are much larger and the publication’s logo is featured in the corner.
Similarly, check-ins are also more visual. Previously, check-in updates were very simple and differed only slightly from a simple text update. The new design features a map of the check-in location similar to check-in updates on mobile devices.
The intent of these changes is to put a higher emphasis on media over standard text updates. Emphasis on visuals has been a common theme across social media in the past few years, and it is no surprise that the news feed changes continue this trend.
Consistency among devices
Along with changes to the news feed, Facebook is also introducing a consistent design across all platforms, so that the social network looks largely the same whether you are on your computer, tablet, or phone. As mobile web traffic an app use continues to grow, it seems Facebook is finally taking mobile seriously.
What does this mean for Marketers?
It remains to be seen exactly how these updates will affect marketing on Facebook as it is unclear if branded posts will appear in the main news feed. On the one hand, this could mean that fewer users see branded updates. On the other hand, it would give marketers a dedicated space in which their users come to them. This makes them much less likely to appear as spam. It also could cut back on their competition for space as they would only be competing with other pages users have liked rather than pages and friends.
Two things are certian. First, as with most of the recent Facebook changes, it is important that brands continue to emphasize visually based posts. Facebook continues to place emphasis on images, and brands with more and higher quality images are likely to perform better than brands that do not emphasize visuals. Second, because check-ins will now feature a map of the location, make sure that all of your local information is up-to-date.
How to get the new news feed
Facebook began rolling out the changes last Thursday. No date has been set for the changes to roll out across the site, but those eager to get the new design early can join the waiting list. The mobile platform will roll out in the next few weeks.