This week Facebook unveiled a major redesign of the News Feed, which now features richer visuals, multiple feeds, and consistency across mobile and desktop. The updated homepage, which has already begun to roll out for desktop, is tailored to individual experiences.
However, that doesn’t mean developers, marketers, or publishers have been left out. Similar to when Timeline was introduced, there’s a lot of information to take in and apply to your marketing strategies. We’ve highlighted some of the most important changes brands should be aware of below.
Visual Quality Is More Important Than Ever Before
The changes start with pictures. News Feed now puts images front and center, meaning you’ll want to be using and sharing higher quality photos. For developers, your apps will need to post bigger images (600 x 600) as the stories people share through them will be larger and more engaging. Make sure your apps are optimized for high-resolution stories on both web and mobile.
Increased photos and videos will also come in handy for magazines and publishers. Shared articles now feature much larger preview images and more prominent titles and summaries. News stories about single topics will also be highlighted in thumbnail-rich carousels. Facebook recommends using images that are at least 552 pixels wide within your articles.
Marketers will also want to pay a lot more attention to their Timeline cover photos. Now, when someone Likes your Page, your cover photo, profile picture, and mutual friends will appear in News Feed. Not only will you want to choose an image that’s unique and engaging, you’ll also want to make sure that it complies with Facebook’s updated text policy.
The Design Is Heavily Influenced by Mobile
Facebook designers took elements of the social network’s mobile design and ported them over to desktop. As a result, the revamped News Feed now puts content front and center, offering a consistent experience across devices. Your content will look great wherever fans are consuming it.
On desktop, you’ll notice that it’s a lot easier to get to any page without passing through the homepage. A new sidebar along the left-hand side of the screen merges navigation and Facebook’s chat features. This is important for developers because bookmarks now appear on every page, making it easier for fans to access the games and apps they use the most.
And similar to Facebook’s iOS app, the new navigation bar can either expand or collapse. This is convenient when you need it, but moves it out of the way when consuming content. However, this also means that the right sidebar — where standard Marketplace Ads are placed — is easier to ignore. The company hasn’t commented on its plans for this sidebar yet.
It’s a Different Landscape for Advertisers
During his presentation, Mark Zuckerberg stated that the News Feed is designed to be more like a newspaper. Instead of one big wall of data, members are now able to navigate to different sections on photos, music, games, and so on. The downside to this is that it’ll be harder for brands to stand out as many consumers will focus more on the Friends-Only feed.
This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for brands. Sponsored Stories will continue to appear in the News Feed just as they did before, only bigger and richer. Fans will still see friends’ app and social activity in their feeds which will help foster awareness. Additionally, assets used for Page Post Ads and Sponsored Stories will remain the same.
This also means that anyone who checks their Following feed has essentially opted into seeing content from brands and publishers. When this happens, content placed in that feed could see greater engagement from fans. Previously ads and Page posts were thrown in regardless of what an individual was doing; now you have a better chance of catching consumers in a buying mood.
Facebook hasn’t made a final decision about when ads will appear in separate feeds, though Zuckerberg did say that the goal is to eventually open those feeds to sponsored content. The ability to embed relevant ads into personalized feeds will be a big draw for advertisers. For example, Sony could place a sponsored post on the music or games feeds, where its more relevant to that audience.
The social network is always tweaking ad types and placements. As it continues collecting feedback during the rollout, it’s likely we’ll see more ad tests and eventually, maybe even a couple new ad types. In the meantime, Facebook said the overall performance of organic and paid media shouldn’t be affected — a benefit of the slow rollout.