07 Mar 2013

What Facebook’s News Feed Changes Mean for Marketers and PR Pros

Facebook's new design

Facebook announced brand new changes to users’ News Feeds, one of the “three pillars” of the Facebook ecosystem, including a new News Feed design, a new mobile News Feed, and more context.

Larger Media Focus

News Feed has always focused more heavily on text; with these new changes, media such as video and imagery is taking front and center-seat attention.

What it means: pure text-based status updates and text links will not be as prominent as the visual.

What you should do: change up your content marketing strategy to incorporate much more visual imagery and video. Learn to use tools like iMovie, Flickr, Animoto, and a host of inexpensive but powerful services to create more visually appealing content.

Plan to see Facebook PPC ads change emphasis (and performance) depending on how visual they are.

Ask your staff who on staff has skills and experience with imagery, with design, with video, and leverage their experience to help your company’s media efforts.

You should, as an immediate first step, make sure things like profile and page photos look super polished, because in the new interface, Facebook will be showing these images of you first. This will be your first impression!

More Context

News Feed has been adapted to offer more information about people, Pages, and brands in the previews, so you have more information before you visit or like them.

What it means: If you haven’t done a good job of defining your brand (and now defining it visually), you will get less traction and less attention.

What you should do: Get your first impressions well-defined. Take the time to condense down a short brand statement that can communicate instantly in a few words and nail the imagery that conveys what will entice your audience from the moment your brand pops into the preview.

Multiple Feeds and Filtering

News Feed’s filtering options have traditionally been… lackluster. Facebook’s changes now give users more control and more variety in what they see in their News Feeds, allowing for more media from different sources, and more filtering of stuff people don’t want with the new Switcher interface.

What it means: This change spells bad news for any brands or marketers who are sharing content that is unhelpful, irrelevant, and not visually appealing. Your Facebook Page and its content have been relegated to the Following category along with all of the other items that a customer is following unless you have sufficient EdgeRank to break through into the default News Feed. Obscurity is now, more than ever, a death knell for your marketing.

What you should do: You need increased focus on what topics you’re sharing media about, and increased quality in what you share. Be more selective about what and who you share, and create content that users will want to visit the Following feed (or bookmark your Facebook Page directly) to get. You will also probably need to buy more paid advertising, since the Following Feed could potentially reduce even further the number of times your content will be seen from a user’s default News Feed if your EdgeRank is low.

One More Thing…

Unsurprisingly, many of the changes Facebook has been making recently, from Graph Search to Timeline to the new News Feed, are focused on improving the user experience and making it more difficult for companies and brands to gain prominence organically without a large ad spend. Thus, if you haven’t done so already, you will increasingly need to rely on your core audience, your fans, your platform, and your mailing list to draw attention to things shared on Facebook (or any social network, for that matter) if you don’t want to shell out big ad dollars.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Photo Credit: Mashable/Nina Frazier

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