The Facebook News Feed Redesign - What Marketers Need to Know


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Facebook has announced its biggest News Feed update in years in order to deliver a simpler, more manageable experience for users. The more visual, organized and platform-consistent look is designed to make all content more engaging – including ads.

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The Facebook News Feed Redesign - What Marketers Need to Know

  1. 1. The Facebook News FeedRedesignMarch 2013By Amy Peterman, Associate Media Director, and Karri Wells Wane, Senior Community Manager at 360iExecutive SummaryFacebook’s biggest News Feed change in years reflects the platform’s attempt to evolve from contentaggregator to the world’s biggest and best “personalized newspaper.” The more visual, organized andplatform-consistent facelift ushers in an improved user experience that is designed to make all content moreengaging – including ads.The latest News Feed update establishes Facebook’s vision to create a one-stop social publication whereusers receive real-time information across a variety of topics from various sources – quality content fromestablished sources and social content from family and friends. Facebook has been moving in this directionfor quite some time, as aggregating so much content within a single feed has created a clutteredenvironment that has presented challenges for brands and users alike. Larger content types will lead to amore focused layout above the fold and filtered feeds will give users more control to drill down into thespecific content buckets of their choice.The facelift will provide a more streamlined experience for users, improving their experience within the siteand possibly encouraging them to interact with more content. As the platform moves toward a more visualdesign, content strategy will be as important as ever for brands. Advertisers will also welcome the newcanvas, which will allow them to serve their ads within larger units – and in the future, perhaps reachconsumers through newly unlocked inventory.What’s New with the News FeedFacebook has outlined three key changes that come with the revamped News Feed: 1. Richer stories, meaning more vibrant and visual posts in the News Feed. Facebook is increasing the size of shared photos and allotting more real estate for shared articles through larger thumbnail images and longer descriptions. Places check-ins will also get a visual facelift – and will now include a map and description so users can better explore their friends’ locations. Third-party applications like Pinterest will receive the same visual treatment and stand out more prominently within the page. Facebook will even mimic newspapers in that the most important content will be highlighted via larger images and thus receive greater prominence within the feed. Content shared by multiple friends will stand out more within the News Feed, and it will be easy to toggle and review friends’ comments about the popular topic. 1 © 360i LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  2. 2. 2. “Choice of Feeds,” organized by topic or media type. Users will now have their choice of feeds – really filters – from which they can browse content. Feed types include expected buckets, such as Events, Sports, Photos and Music – and even Friends and Following (posts from Pages and public figures). Content within the Following feed will be organized chronologically, and the feed listing itself will be ordered based on how often the user browses each feed. The main News Feed will continue to function as it always has – serving content that is most relevant to that user – and will be the default view each time a user opens Facebook. 3. Cross-platform consistency. Facebook is more closely mirroring its desktop UI with that of its mobile/tablet experience. Visual cues and the general design aesthetic across all devices will be uniform.Implications for Content & Community ManagementFor brands, the more visual, magazine-like design places greater emphasis on content marketing strategy.The ability to filter the News Feed gives fans more control over the content that they are served, so brandsshould strive to continue to develop interesting and engaging content that will increase visibility acrossfiltered feeds via the “Choice of Feeds” option. • The same rules still apply: focus on engagement and content. Engagement – liking, commenting and sharing – will help surface content across other feeds. For instance, if a user shares a post from your brand, it will appear organically in that user’s Friends feed. Moreover, content is still king. Brands should consider investing in higher premium content as richer images and video content will draw more attention in the main News Feed. Strong photos will be critical to stand out within the dedicated Photos feed. • EdgeRank still matters – and, more than ever, so does timing. Facebook’s News Feed is changing but its News Feed algorithm is not. Content served within the main News Feed will have a new look, but the way content is surfaced will not change. Beyond the main News Feed, content shared within the Following feed will be served in chronological order – similar to a Twitter stream. 2
  3. 3. Since content is displayed differently in this feed, brands may consider increasing their posting frequency and thinking more deeply about how they can participate in cultural conversations as they happen. • Make cover photo updates as needed. Page Like Stories (organic and paid) will now display the cover photo of your brand’s Page to provide more content about the community. Given this update, brands will want to utilize cover photo imagery that visually represents the brand. • Remember to test and learn as the platform continues to evolve. Facebook’s new format for presenting, sorting and discovering content may impact how users engage with branded content. As a result, Page admins and content creators should continue to use past performance data to inform content strategies, but also experiment with different types of content and publishing frequency. In the immediate future, brands will likely see no significant impact on reach or engagement, either positive or negative, as Facebook has indicated that it will gradually roll out and monitor how the aesthetic changes impact key metrics. Of note, Facebook states that, “Any change we make to News Feed is always meant to increase user engagement with Facebook and with content.”Implications for MediaThe aesthetic changes to Facebook’s UI will have little immediate impact on the way media is bought anddelivered within the platform. Although users now have the option to browse content by filter type, the defaultview will continue to present the same general News Feed as users are accustomed to seeing. What willchange – and for the better – is the way in which media is displayed. • Bigger content will lead to bigger ads in the general News Feed. Facebook assumes users will interact most with the general News Feed – and that’s good news for advertisers, whose ads will be even more prominent via larger, more eye-catching images. Page posts, ads and sponsored stories are also becoming more visual, giving marketers a larger creative canvas to reach people in the most engaging placements of the site. Ads on the right-hand side will also be wider, with clearer calls to action. • The new News Feed filters will be ad-free – for now. At this time, no ads will appear within the new filtered feeds (i.e. Photos, Friends or Following). Paid opportunities are also not currently available in the Following feed – where only organic Page posts will appear. Advertising opportunities there could become available though later this year. 3
  4. 4. Facebook’s revamped News Feed will roll out in phases, so advertisers will likely see no immediate changesto ad distribution and volume. The mobile app roll-out is expected to be complete in March, and the Desktopview will be more slowly introduced to users as Facebook determines its affect on engagement. The updatedoes not involve Graph Search, and thus Sponsored Results will continue to operate as they do currently.ConclusionWith this latest News Feed redesign, the company that first introduced “It’s Complicated” is making thebrowsing experience simpler – or at least more manageable – for users. By promoting more discovery andeasier navigation of content, Facebook is hoping that the update will keep users within the environment forlonger periods of time and encourage more frequent visits. If user behavior follows this hypothesis, brandswill see more opportunities to reach highly targeted users that are engaged within the platform through bothpaid and earned media.While the announcement upholds current best practices when it comes to content and communitymanagement and revealed no new advertising opportunities, some important questions remain formarketers. From an earned media perspective, marketers will be eager to see how the “Choice of Feeds”menu will impact consumer behavior. Will users spend more time within these niche feeds, or continue tospend most of their time within the general News Feed? From a media perspective, the presence of nichefeeds seems to unlock new inventory for advertisers – and though nothing has been announced, recentdevelopments such as the testing of auto-play video units could signify more high-impact advertisingopportunities ahead. Moreover, niche feeds could open the door for additional user behavior insight andplacement targeting opportunities for advertisers. User behavior will always be valued by the algorithm for addelivery in News Feed, and advertisers now will be able to expand on those learnings.About 360i360i is an award-winning digital marketing agency that drives results for Fortune 500 marketers throughinsights, ideas and technologies. 360i helps its clients think differently about their online presence and evolvetheir strategies to take advantage of the new world of marketing communications – one where brands andconsumers engage in interactive and multi-directional conversations. Ad Age recently named 360i the #2Agency in the country in its 2013 A-List issue and also named it one of the “Best Places to Work” inMarketing & Media for two years running. Current clients include Oreo, Capital One, Coca-Cola, Bravo andDiageo, among others. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @360i.Ways To Connect With 360i 4