Since it was announced a few weeks ago, we’ve seen a lot written about yet more changes to Facebook from our friends at ‘Zuck Towers’.
I thought it might be worth looking at what the changes could mean for brands and how they should respond.
We know that the news feed will become more visual with images taking more prominence, the appearance will be unified in a move to a more ‘mobile’ look, and also that users will be able to filter the content they see, but so what?
Reducing clutter and bringing images to life
Facebook uses the ‘reducing clutter’ phrase in its launch video to explain that the news feed is going to become more visual and image centric.
This means it will become more important for brands to consider their strategies and the amount of visual content they post. Keeping photo captions short to make sure the message isn’t clipped or distracts from the image itself will also help to optimise image attributes.
Red Bull has the perfect strategy to maximise from this transition. Its wall is a mix of images of adrenaline sports, events, checkins and activities with eye-catching photography, thumbnails and quirky descriptions that really appeal and engage with the brand’s 37m fans.
Mobile and tablet inspired design. A more unified approach
Photo stories will be blown up to provide rich previews rather than small stories, and will be created automatically.
So whilst still speculation, the Facebook news feed is likely to look more like Instagram or Google+ with ‘squarer’ imagery, meaning that there may be a loss in quality and also off-centre cropping as the default.
Brands will also need to consistently use high-resolution imagery as the images are enlarged.
Multiple feeds that users can browse in categories
It’ll soon be possible to browse and filter content according to preferences for friends and brands but also use feeds such as photos, following, or recent activity.
Brands will need to prepare for potentially reduced ‘reach’ figures they might see as users start to use the filters, meaning their strategy should centre around posting content that fans want to share to try to aim for greater reach.
Posts that tend to be shared are generally unique, thought provoking or funny. Think Melbourne Metro – Dumb Ways to Die.
An example of this is Tesco. Amidst the recent negative press, supermarket chain, Tesco manage to engage their fans with products or questions that provoke comment.
Increased advertising prominance
It’s pretty obvious that Facebook will be making these changes with advertising in mind.
The aim to reduce clutter really relates to sponsored ads that arguably are to blame for creating the untidiness in the first place. So it feels as if the update is really for the benefit of the ad revenues Facebook are looking to maximise.
For brands therefore, it might be time to consider whether your investment in Facebook advertising is appropriate given the poor targeting, and possible impact on what the user is actually there to do.
If adverts are not relevant to the user, they are currently quite easy to ignore, but as they get bigger and enter the news feed, the impact on brand reputation may be higher.
Facebook is constantly changing, and this latest update claims to improve engagement. As images become more raised to the surface and other content become more accessible via filters and categories, it can only be sensible to think that actually the news feed updates will reduce the time required as it will become easier to skim read.
I think the jury might be out on this one until it’s live, but whatever happens, there will be a proportion of users that create uproar, a proportion that love it, and of course those who won’t even notice. They impact on brands therefore really depends on the ability to embrace the opportunity and make the most of the updates.
If you haven’t already, watch the video and join the waiting list here.