Last week, Facebook announced several updates to its News Feed in order to provide:
"...a richer, simpler, more beautiful Newsfeed — on both desktop web, and mobile. Focused on the things you care about. What your friends are saying. What your network is sharing."
- Facebook Director of Design Julie Zhuo
Welcome to Your "Personal Newspaper"
Sure, there are many apps and websites that offer curated news according to a user's interests and preferences (Flipboard and Zite are two of the most popular examples). Yet Facebook has been the mecca of content sharing for years.
We are more likely to read articles recommended by friends, just like we're more likely to purchase a product or like a brand if someone in our social circle vouches for it. Now, Facebook is finally getting dressed to play the role it was born to play.
The 3 Pillars of Facebook’s New Look:
1) More emphasis on images
You know all that mess on your Facebook homepage? You might not even know what's going on in the margins of the page; the stuff you really care about is in the middle: the stories. Facebook will be more visual and less text-based, joining a trend seen across the web and in applications like Tumblr and Pinterest.
Same Link, Shared by Many Friends: Hover over each photo on the left to view that friend's comments.
2) More control and organization
A "News Feed" menu in the upper right corner will let you flip through different feeds and content types. Users will be able to quickly toggle through specific streams of content (i.e. Photos, Close Friends, Following, etc.), for a more focused, streamlined experience.
No more mish-mosh of junk spattered haphazardly on your feed.
3) Consistent desktop/mobile experience
The look and feel of Facebook on desktops will match that of smartphones and tablets. It will be easier to post, view, comment and share friends' stories across all platforms. Improvements will also be made to mobile chat. Only 35% of mobile users currently have chat access; this will increase with the new version.
A mobile-inspired web design across all platforms.
5 Ways to Leverage The New Look:
This all boils down to a more engaging user experience. It's going to be easier than ever to share content that fans love — and brands should take advantage of this new opportunity in social media marketing.
1) Have a beautiful cover photo. Eye-catching cover photos will now appear in 'Like Stories'. It's officially not just about your profile pictures anymore.
2) Continue to post visual content. Photos consistently receive more engagement than text-based posts, and the new look will only bolster this fact.
3) Get creative. Marketers now have a larger "creative canvas" with which to play. Be one of the early birds and figure out a way to make the new look work for your brand. Post a series or create a collage of colors or patterns.
4) Pay attention to mobile insights. Brands are likely to see an uptick in visits from m.facebook in traffic analytics. Pay attention to this metric over the next few weeks as the new version is rolled out to more users.
5) Be mobile-friendly. If your website isn't already optimized for mobile (hopefully via responsive design), you should at least build a custom Facebook Welcome page.
Mobile-Centric Web Design
Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from the announcement is how much of the new design was informed by the mobile user experience. This is consistent with the "Mobile First" principle promoted by Eric Shmidt back in Feb. 2010, and digital product strategist Luke Wroblewski. By focusing first on mobile, webmasters are forced to create simplified, more streamlined user experiences.
Do you have any suggestions for how brands can use the new Facebook newsfeed? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting at us @BFMweb