Two years ago, everyone’s love-hate relationship with Facebook got a little more passionate when Mark Zuckerburg changed things up and introduced us to Facebook Timeline. Love it or hate it, it’s all about to change again.
Facebook introduced a whole new news feed design at a press conference on March 7th. It should come as no surprise that the new version of the news feed is very image heavy and was designed to help give people the ability to digest more information with greater ease.
News Feeds Based on User Activity
One of the biggest motivators for the new design was Facebook’s desire to give users a better ability to customize their news feeds. “We want to give the world the best personalized newspaper that we can,” said Zuckerberg during the event.
Chris Struhar, the tech lead of Facebook’s News Feed explained several of the new options during today’s press conference. Among them is the introduction of specialized feeds that provide users with quick access to the areas they like best.
- Friends Feed – The chance to actually get ALL the updates from your friends. (finally!)
- Music Feed – Not just audio files…also images, events and updates from musical artists.
- Photos Feed – Images shared by friends via Facebook and Instagram
- Games Feed – Who is playing what, what invites are waiting and what milestones have been reached.
- Following Feed – Updates and information from the Facebook Pages a user has liked
Struhar also explained that news feeds will list updates chronologically and will adjust over time to focus on the content a user most interacts with. In other words, if you click over to check the music and photo feeds every time you log into the site, Facebook will begin to adjust your newsfeed to favor content from those specific feeds.
More Photos, Bigger Photos and Did I Mention MORE Photos?
One of the things we all love about Facebook is the photos. Whether it’s photos our friends and family take to reflect their lives, or shared images that capture the thoughts, humor and frustrations of the day…Facebook’s new feed design puts a heavy emphasis on larger images in the news feed.
The plus side of the new design is how much easier it might be to digest great photo content right on the news feed without having to click in to view an image bigger than a thumbnail. The potential down side to the new design is the sheer amount of space each update seems to take up on the page. There’s going to be a LOT more scrolling required to see the same amount of content.
Consolidated Sharing Presentation
Another big change going into effect with the new news feed is the consolidation of social sharing presentation. On the old news feed, you might see an update featuring a news story or image that had been shared by friends paired with multiple posts underneath detailing the description used by each friend to post it. You might also simply see the same image show up multiple times in your feed as it was shared by different sources. The entire display option was a bit of a crap shoot.
Under the new news feed design, these types of updates will show up as a single post with a consolidated listing of each friend who has chosen to share it.
This should make it easier for users to tell which pieces of content have really caught on with their friends and family.
This new shared stories update will also have an impact on the types of content that shows up in your feed. Apparently, Facebook will be doing some analysis of the types of stories you tend to comment on or like and will be using that data to try to recommend stories you might not otherwise see. (It remains to be seen if that’s going to end up being a good feature or an obnoxious one.)
The new design will look and work the same way no matter what platform users choose to access it from. The web version will mirror the mobile version which will mirror the tablet version and so on. This will help create a level of consistency in user interaction that has not yet existed up to this point.
Theoretically, it should also mean Facebook’s various paid and promoted ad options will display consistently across all platforms, making it easier to test the impact of different campaigns.
What Does it All Mean?
On some fronts, the update should come as a surprise to no one. After all, the shift toward image content based marketing on social media networks has been well covered for the past year or two. People LOVE images. Larger images increases the potential for engagement which increases EdgeRank which increases the ability to connect with your audience on Facebook. Few people are going to complain about that.
That said, it DOES make it more important than ever that your brand figures out how best to integrate more image based updates into your Facebook strategy.
Finally, the segmentation of news feeds into topical areas will also likely open the door to new forms of targeted Facebook advertising. (And let’s be honest here…that’s what this is all about…isn’t it? Figuring out how to drive more advertising while still keeping users happy.) I fully expect we’ll gain the ability to target photo feeds or music feeds or game feeds down the road.
Want to try the new News Feed now? Facebook has a page where you can sign up to gain early access, but there’s no current estimate on how long the wait will be.