The New Facebook News Feed – What Brands and Users Need to Know

March 8th, 2013 by Search Influence Alumni

8539089499_eb76f0393d_b Facebook announced a new look to their News Feed yesterday, which aims to streamline its appearance and cut down on irrelevant stories. In fact, the tagline on their announcement reads “Goodbye Clutter… Hello bright, beautiful stories.” The new version will focus on images, and they will appear much larger and richer than they had previously. To many reviewers, the updated feed looks like a cross between Google+ and the Facebook Mobile app. For the first time, the platform will look virtually the same across different devices. This leaves just one big question for both Facebook users and brands… Where will the ads go?

Never fear, Facebook advertisers, this update looks poised to deliver even larger and more effective ads than those that are available on the current version of News Feed. The three column design of the new layout allows for larger images and stories from your friends, but also allows for richer, more striking sponsored stories from advertisers. And in the end, isn’t that what Facebook shareholders are demanding? The new update downplays and shrinks the traditional right side bar ads, which seems designed to push brands to utilize creative content and sponsored stories to target potential fans.

The updated News Feed may impact businesses’ organic reach significantly. And truthfully, this may be a deliberate plan to get more brands to utilize sponsored stories in order to reach a wider audience. Facebook quietly released a “Pages” feed several months ago, which has been popping up more and more on my News Feed in the last few weeks to highlight brands I rarely click on. With the new update comes an “All Friends” feed, which allows you to only see people you are friends with in real life on your News Feed. Although Facebook claims the News Feed algorithm will not be changing, its not hard to imagine many users will be clicking “All Friends” rather than viewing their entire feed.

Mashable has some great tips on some ways brands and publishers can get a jump start on succeeding in the new News Feed, many of which are as simple as updating your brand’s cover photo. The biggest takeaway from Facebook’s new look is that brands need to focus more intently on sharable, high quality images, videos, and links rather than plain text updates. For some this might take a bit of adjustment, but it has been a known fact for some time that posts with photos or links get far more interaction on the social media network than text-only statuses.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 3.52.03 PM For the average user, this update seems like an overall positive design change. The look of the News Feed hasn’t been updated in over two years, and quite frankly seems overrun by apps and useless stories. Personally, if the top story on my News Feed is never about “Candy Crush Saga” again (a game I don’t play, for the record) I will be one happy girl. With this redesign, Facebook seems to be getting back to what matters, content from people you actually care about. In the end, isn’t that the point of social media?