Facebook have just held a press event announcing changes to their newsfeed. Here’s what you need to know:
- Targeted areas
Newsfeeds will be introducing specific areas to segment what users see. This will include a Music section, a Games section and a Following section - a list of who you have subscribed to. Facebook will note which areas you are viewing the most, and make these more prominent in your navigation. It’s interesting that there was no mention of Facebook Graph Search here, as I personally think this new navigation will be a strong indicator for the tool. Give someone a music section and they are likely to fill it in, therefore adding more personal data, valuable to advertisers.
- Larger images
Facebook have noted the increase in imagery on timelines over the past 2 years, and put a great emphasis on rich content as a result. With Pinterest, Instagram and Vine making their mark in the social arena, it looks like Facebook want a slice of the action.
- Consistent navigation and structure
Although once, it might have been a different experience viewing Facebook on your mobile than on your PC, now whichever platform you are viewing the social network on, it will be uniform. It will appear the same and all tools and features will also be the same.
So what can businesses do with this new information?
Facebook have noted that their audience is using the social network more times a day, but for shorter periods of time. Long text-based status updates run the risk of becoming lost. For business, this means you need to tell your story in a more visual manner. Make sure imagery on your website is up to scratch if you're planning on driving traffic in this direction and you might want to learn how to use Photoshop too. Screens are becoming clearer as each smartphone is launched. Blurry photography and shoddy image editing isn't going to cut it.For advertisers, an emphasis on the visual could mean mean more prominent banners and advertisements on your target audience’s timeline so if you've not thought about Facebook advertising until now, why not give it a test run when the changes have rolled out to everyone.One interesting addition to the newsfeed is the appearance of shared content. If a number of your Facebook friends share a video, for example, instead of this appearing as multiple updates, these will be aggregated and the video will take on an enlarged format on the timeline - with the profile picture of those that shared it alongside - not all that dissimilar to a +1 on Google Plus. It effectively lets you know what content is deemed good by your community. So businesses, when you’re thinking about what you’re posting, ask yourself:
Is this shareable?
Re-evaluate your target audience
Is your audience really going to respond to more visuals? If not, it’s time to invest your efforts elsewhere. It might sound drastic to jump ship, especially when Facebook can really bring in a lot of money for businesses - and it can. But, if you have plenty of likes, but not much interaction, after the new changes, it’s unlikely that your updates will appear in your audience’s newsfeed. With users given additional ways to tailor what they see, unless they specify that they want to hear from your business and interact with your business page on a regular basis, your statuses will become lost, and engagement, social referral traffic and social conversions are going to drop. Allow me to go off-topic for a second. There have been a number of reports in the past fortnight that business pages are reaching less of their audience. Promoted posts are one such way to can guarantee that more people are reached, but at a cost. Per post.
Facebook hit back at any accusations that their newsfeed changes were just to make an extra buck, and stated that overall, engagement on posts from those with more than 10,000 followers had increased 34% year on year. Although this is fantastic news for big brands (who would arguably already have budget for promoted posts and Facebook advertising anyway) for small business trying to reach out to a larger audience, this poses a problem. And remember, there are approximately 5 million of these in the UK, a number that can’t be ignored. If they can’t reach a large audience on Facebook, it’s safe to say they will find it elsewhere (Google+ anyone?)
Optimise for mobile
If you haven’t already considered your mobile audience, now is the time to do so. Going visual is essentially going mobile. Many assume that their audience are viewing content as when it is created: but most business content is written on a large-screened desktop computer at the office when Facebook users are more likely to be on a tablet or mobile. I recently wrote a post on how businesses can adapt their Twitter strategy for mobile and many of the principles are the same for Facebook. Make sure you think to yourself: how would this look on a mobile before posting anything to Facebook, and if you’re posting to links or to your website, ensure they look good too.
Mark Zuckerberg introduced the press event by explaining how he wanted Facebook to be the very best personalised newspaper for each individual user. Well, my background is in journalism and I know that to feature in a newspaper you've either got to be newsworthy (i.e relevant to your target audience) or pay to advertise. It looks like Facebook are going to follow a similar pattern and businesses should take note.
You can see what the newsfeed changes will look like and join the waiting list here.
If you'd like to discuss your options for social media marketing, get in touch and we'd love to help.