In case you spent all day yesterday hiding under a rock, Facebook unveiled its brand new revamped news feed model. During the press conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wants the network to double as the world’s best “personalized newspaper”. We think we just heard the entire Internet issue a collective groan.
And now for the inevitable follow-up question: where’s the outrage? The public has yet to render a judgment, but so far the word on the changes from the brand/advertiser side appears to be cautiously positive! In fact, the new setup might be better for brands and advertisers. How so?
Well, the biggest change for the new feed is more, bigger pictures. This is in keeping with the PR/marketing industry’s increasing focus on visuals over text when driving audience engagement.
Our conclusions on what this change will mean for brands, marketers and PR teams:
1. More pictures and video: This is a bit of a no-brainer: we’ve been moving in this direction for some time. This larger shift means that ambitious PR pros should work on developing their design skills and portfolios.
2. More emphasis on brand identity, taglines: Because the new feed’s “previews” will offer more immediate information on brands before users click through to individual pages, marketers and social media managers will have a better chance to define their brands at a glance. So taglines and brand statements will be even more prominent.
3. Even more mobile: Despite the big spotlight on imagery, pictures won’t be enough: videos and the sort of interactive polls/games/contests that occupy so much of mobile users’ time will grow even more important for brands that want to stand out.
4. More categorization: This development is particularly interesting. One of the coolest things about Twitter has always been the ability to categorize different feeds. With Facebook’s new layout, users can separate their updates into music news, pics from “top” friends and, most importantly, news from brands they follow.
We have a feeling that separating branded content from the rest of the whole mess will lead to people paying more attention–or at least being more particular about the brands they choose to follow. Hopefully that will mean more engagement as well.
Also: brands can encourage engagement by posting content related to their specific categories–even if it’s not necessarily their own. This is especially relevant because, as before, Facebook’s algorithm will more prominently feature content by brands that users click on most.
5. The “following” feed: This is a big one for brands: It allows users who “like” a brand to check out all kinds of posts by that brand’s “followers”, even if they don’t happen to be friends with these users. Fan engagement will be even more important.
Of course, as Chris Penn of Shift Communications (among others) notes, many of the new changes to the Facebook layout are all about convincing brands that, in order to get the exposure they want, they’re going to have to spend some money. The question everyone’s asking: with declining rates of engagement among the all-important Millennial demographic, will those spends be worth it?
PR pros: what do we think of the new features? And how will we change our strategies to make the most of them?