On March 7, 2013, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the biggest change to the Facebook News Feed in its seven-year history. Zuckerberg emphasized the importance of giving the world the “best personalized newspaper in the world.” That inspiration led to the creation of a multi-news feed, visually engaging, Facebook makeover. The makeover comes in three major parts:
- Rich, visually engaging stories
- Choice of different feeds
- Mobile consistency and experience
Let’s dive deeper into each of these parts.
Rich, Visually Engaging Stories
Visuals on Facebook are now much more enticing. With the explosion of visual content, this comes as no surprise. In fact, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Facebook has capitalized on such trends and information, as you can see in the screen shot below.
The first thing you’ll notice on the new News Feed is the obvious enlargement and enhancement in the way visual content is displayed. When you upload a photo through your page, it comes up much larger than ever before. The purpose of this is to put the spotlight on each particular user or page, one at a time.
In addition to photos that are uploaded and posted as a status update, there have been some visual changes to the way users interact with your brand page. For instance, in the old News Feed, if someone ‘Liked’ your page, your brand’s logo or ‘profile photo’ would show up. This would sometimes include a featured page post to go along with the story. Now, this story shows up a little differently:
You can see that elements of the timeline layout have been brought to the News Feed. Your cover photo is now more important than ever. What do users learn about your brand just from your cover image? Will they get a sense of what you sell? What you value? What you believe in? Under the cover image story, you see the faces of other people who like your page too. This helps users recognize which brands their friends are connecting with.
Those same faces you see under your brand’s cover image could easily be found on the left side of a photo or video post. Previously, video posts would show up much smaller and be much less significant in the News Feed. You might remember the way link posts used to look — well, videos were featured in the same way. Now, videos are much more pronounced, featured in exactly the same manner that images are featured. You can get a sense of what this looks like in this image:
The small images you see aligning the sides of these News Feed stories are something you’ll want to pay attention to as you’re navigating this guide. This is because the new design caters to content that has been shared frequently within a certain person’s network. In the example previously, you saw a video that was shared by five different people, and by clicking on each face, you could see the activity and commentary that was left by each user.
A similar concept applies to stories that are popular both within and outside of the Facebook platform:
Choice of Different Feeds
The second new feature announcement from Facebook is “Choice of Feeds,” or the ability to toggle between different feeds of information by topics. It’s inspired by the idea that people’s News Feeds should include a mix of content from family and friends as well as news and information from the pages of businesses and public figures you follow — but that users should also be able to filter out these messages from one another. In fact, Zuckerberg noted that currently, 30% of the content in the News Feed is content from Facebook Pages as opposed to individual users.
Here’s a run-down of the various new News Feeds you’ll have access to. Keep in mind that you can see more in the screenshot, but those were already available to you in the current design.
- All Friends Feed: shows all posts from all friends
- Music Feed: displays what your favorite musicians are posting, what your friends are listening to, what concerts are coming up, etc.
- Photos Feed: shows all the photos posted by your friends and the pages you follow
- Following Feed: similar to the current “Pages Feed,” this displays all posts from the business pages and public figures you’re a fan of, in chronological order
Mobile Consistency and Experience
Lastly, Facebook now has the same look and feel across all devices — mobile, tablet, and web — creating a much more unified and simplified user experience. Most notably, the left-hand menu is accessible wherever you go within Facebook, and it’s easy to navigate to the very top of the News Feed when you notice new stories have been posted.
Facebook has restructured and redesigned its network based on the strong demand and appreciation for visual content from its users. Now, it’s time for marketers to restructure their content strategy due to this same demand from prospects, leads, and customers.
High quality content is more important than ever with these new Facebook changes. Optimizing for the new News Feed goes beyond just the Facebook Page. This change actually affects your entire content strategy as a whole, from images and status updates to blog posts and media coverage. The following sections will show you exactly what matters for marketing now, and how you can effectively optimize your content for success.
How Content Appears in User News Feeds
Content is shown in user News Feeds based off EdgeRank, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. EdgeRank, as many marketers know, is composed of three elements: affinity, weight, and time decay.
- Affinity is the score between the viewer and the ‘edge’ creator. How closely you are tied to the person creating the content determines this score.
- Weight is the value given to the comments and actions any given post receives. As they “Like” it, comment on it, tag it, etc., it gains in relevance to the community at large.
- Time Decay is the decaying value of the content as time passes. Today’s news is news. Yesterday’s news is history
How Do You Optimize For EdgeRank?
Optimizing for EdgeRank is easier said than done. Although Facebook says there will be no change to the algorithm, we believe things will get a bit trickier. When you talk about it, optimizing for EdgeRank is as simple as posting the content that your Facebook audience will engage best with. What content will give them a positive impression of your brand, leading to a calculable action such a like, share, or comment on the post? But when it comes time to actually posting the right content, it becomes increasingly difficult to decide what to post, when to post, and how to know if that work is actually returning the proper results. In order to optimize for EdgeRank on the new News Feed, it’s important to know what has worked in the past to help shape your strategy for the upcoming changes. As noted, Facebook said no changes have been made to the algorithm. However, the new Choice of Feeds feature and higher prominence on Rich Photos may change how you go about optimizing for EdgeRank.
According to Hubspot’s research, photos generate 53% more likes than the average post and 104% more comments than the average post . In their study of 1,545 B2B and B2C companies in October, “the average post” included text, link, and photo posts. Text and link posts are those published through the “Status” option on a page’s composer. They can take the form of text-only posts or link-based posts that pull in an image thumbnail. With the emergence of a photos-only feed, the weight placed on photos could increase even more, calling on the ever-growing importance of visual content.