Last Thursday Facebook unveiled the format for it’s ‘new’ news feed. The major difference is a shift in focus to visuals instead of text.
For the design community, this is a MAJOR moment – because what chronicles our creativity better than a great picture? I spent the weekend reading blogs on the subject, and have 2 early observations about how the change will likely impact your social media strategy, and your brand.
In Facebook’s own words they’re “making the change to breathe new life into the news feed, and give it a cleaner, fresher, more visually appealing look.” You can get a snapshot, and sign-on early for the change by following this link.
What do these changes to the biggest area of Facebook mean for brands? Here’s what the media geeks are saying;
There will be separate content feeds
This is probably the biggest change in terms of how people will actually use the site. Or at least in terms of how Facebook hopes people will use the site.
They are highlighting the fact that you will have your news feed, but also separate feeds for ‘Most Recent’, ‘All Friends’ (which gives user the chance to see everything their friends are posting to Facebook again), as well as Music, Games and Photos. There will also be a ‘Following’ feed, which is where all posts from brands will appear.
The Following feed will have one immediately obvious benefit to brands, in that Facebook has confirmed that users will be able to see all posts from all brands they follow in this feed. No more only reaching 10% of your fans. But that begs several questions. How many users will actually access this feed? And how often? Will users care enough about what brands are saying to go to a feed specifically to see that content?
It’s a more visual design
As you can see from the screenshot, the whole layout is about becoming more visual. Images are bigger, with status updates overlaying them (brilliant design if you’re after my opinion), with seemingly larger links.
Having larger images as a way to deliver successful brand messaging isn’t surprising to me. Our Technology Editor James White and our Web Designer George Hahn have been beating the drum for full size images connected to Facebook posts since I got in the game.
It would also be logical to assume that having larger link previews should be good for brands that are linking out to their websites, but it does mean you need to give more thought to what thumbnails you connect to your link previews.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that built into it’s news feed update is a design change for mobile devices. According to an article in last Thursday’s New York Times;
“One of the goals of the redesign was to create a more consistent experience between mobile and the Web. Designing a Web site and apps that can translate between a four-inch screen and an extra-large computer monitor is not simple. But Facebook seems to have done a stellar job with this challenge.”
That remains to be seen – as a preview of the social media titan’s mobile format is not yet available. But 2 things (at least for this humble observer) are certain;
Every move Facebook makes is in an effort to monetize, so you can expect this update to eventually hit your ledger. And change is omnipresent in the (very young) world of social media; so even as you prepare for the imminent update, you should intellectually gear-up for the next one.