Press across the globe gathered with bated breath for what you would have thought was about to be the announcement of a cure for cancer, but in fact it was tweaks to Facebook’s news feed.
If you are an advertiser or publisher and haven’t caught onto the fact that Facebook isn’t just for ‘getting down with the kids’, but it is actually a key tool for consumer engagement, then no doubt you would have been intrigued as to what the new updates involved.
More Attention on Updates
The aim of the new user interface is to reduce clutter and focus more attention on updates, photos and information from the people, groups and of course brands, that people most care about.
With the new choice of more targeted feeds and an emphasis on photos, brands and advertisers look set to benefit from increased engagement and reach increases when they publish photographs.
Greater prominence will be given to advertising on the news feed and when someone ‘likes’ a company or brand on Facebook, the lower half of the company’s or brand’s fan page cover photo appears in the news feed viewed by that person’s friends.
Other big news is that with the new design, Facebook will have the same look and feel on mobile, tablet and web.
Should Boost Revenue
Pouros said as the new screenshots presented by Facebook show some big aesthetic changes, this will likely encourage users to stay on the site longer.
“Facebook has taken the success of advertising in peoples' newsfeeds on mobile and based its news feed redesign on mirroring that format (or close to it) on all devices - this should boost revenue,” Pouros said.
“In the last earnings call Zuckerberg stated Facebook had not seen any evidence that increased advertising it introduced at that stage had a negative impact on people”, Pouros begins.
However, Pouros said that research from Greenlight also indicates that Facebook may need to pace itself a little less aggressively when it comes to cashing in on its advertising sweet spot.
Findings from the agency’s soon to be released Search & Social Survey 2012-2013, suggest 15% of users would pay Facebook not to see ads at all, while close to 70% said they ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ click on advertisements or sponsored listings in Facebook.
Pouros added: “The conflict between user experience and driving more ad dollars looms large. It did with AltaVista historically, who were then unseated in the search engine wars with a new upstart (Google), with a cleaner interface and better user experience.”
Facebook Needs to Educate Advertisers
CEO of web design and digital marketing agency Maynard Malone, Ameet Chandarana, said if Facebook is to flourish then it needs to educate brands as it is not about ‘one-way messaging’ , it is about helping and supporting the communities within Facebook so that ads are beneficial to them.
“The fundamental issue here that brands need to understand is that Facebook is like a supercharged global version of a local community hall where people gather to chat, share experiences and interests. As soon as you try to monetise something like this, you are in danger of losing its perceived purpose and consequently the users,” Chandarana said.
A Focus on Photos
In addition to the current Facebook news feed, to make sure people see all the stories they actually want to see, Facebook will introduce several new feeds.
The new ‘following’ feed shows the latest news from the people and pages (such as brands, products etc) the user follows, and the additional ‘photos’ feed shows nothing but photos from friends and pages that are liked. Other new feeds include the ‘all friends’ feed and the ‘music’ only feed.
“We’ve completely rebuilt each story to be much more vibrant and colourful and highlight the content that your friends are sharing. Photos, news articles, maps and events all look brighter and more beautiful,” a Facebook spokesman said.