Early in March, Facebook announced major changes to the News Feed, particularly in the way users control the content they see. These changes were part of an overall redesign that puts more emphasis on images and makes the Facebook experience more consistent across web, mobile and tablet devices.
These updates affect the way marketers should approach their Facebook strategy, though not drastically. There are two major implications for marketers:
Visual Content Becomes More Prominent
Facebook clearly wants a more visual experience for their users. Photos and videos will appear larger in the News Feed. Maps will show where Friends of a user have checked in, right in the News Feed. Thumbnail images and excerpts for links added to status updates will be larger.
One particularly notable change is that when a user Likes your Page, your cover photo will now show up in the News Feeds of their friends. This is a fantastic opportunity to get a highly visual, engaging image out in front of a new audience to attract new followers.
Facebook Ads in the News Feed, such as Sponsored Stories, will also have more prominent images. The effect this may have on advertisers and their ROI remains to be seen.
Users Get Control Over Content Feed Segmentation
Facebook is still rolling out the redesign to members and will continue to do so until everyone has the new layout. The feature most impactful for marketers is the ability for users to filter down into specific types of content.
The News Feed view will remain the default option, though users can now choose to see only that content posted by Friends or by Pages. They can also drill down into Photos, Music, Games and other controls that will display only the content of their choice.
Note that this is not a change to the algorithm Facebook uses to decide which content a user will see in their News Feed. It is a visual redesign, but one that gives users the option to essentially filter out – or focus in on – brand content.
Users with a lot of friends may actually be exposed to more brand content, if they choose to use these controls. In the News Feed as it was, Page content was often hidden amongst the myriad of Friend posts in the average user’s feed.
What can brands do about this particular change? Monitor your own Page and content performance. Test constantly to see which content types and topics garner the best engagement and help you reach your business goals. In the coming months, we are sure to see studies and reports on the actual impact of this latest redesign.
The opportunity to connect with and engage fans with high quality images, meaningful photos and video is greater than ever. Have you noticed changes in the way your fans are interacting with your content since the March update? Share your experience in the comments!
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