What It Is
Facebook Launches New News Feed Design
Today Facebook launched a new News Feed design, which will impact the visual and navigational experience on the platform. The new design will start rolling out slowly on desktop today for a select number of users, and across mobile and tablet over the next few weeks.
The new design, which Mark Zuckerberg compared with "the best personalized newspaper in the world", is focused on the following enhancements:
- A Richer, More Visual Design
- Ability to Filter the News Feed
- Consistent Experience Across Devices
At a high level, the new design offers user benefits in the form of a more visually compelling experience on the platform and greater control over content consumption. From a marketing perspective, the new design offers both opportunities and formidable challenges, as brands fight to gain share of user attention.
A Richer, More Visual Design
Facebook noted that since the end of 2011, 50% of posts on the platform have included photos and images. The new design reflects the evolving nature of News Feed by placing images front and center to create a more visual, immersive experience. Specific examples include:
- Larger, sharper photos - Both for individual photos and for albums
- Articles - Larger images, more prominent headlines, longer descriptions, publisher logos
- Profile photo - Larger format, easier to see common friends, prominent "Add Friend" button
- Places - More prominent maps, photos and descriptions to incent location check-in behavior
- Third party apps - Content shared from apps like Pinterest will be displayed with richer visuals
- Widely shared content - Gains visual prominence, users can easily see friends' comments
- Curated for you - Things you have liked previously on Facebook (e.g. Taylor Swift music, Christopher Nolan movies) surface to drive relevant discovery
In regard to the changes, Facebook described its role as a medium or a "container" that allows the content people create and share on the platform to shine and be showcased to maximum effect. As Facebook VP of Product Chris Cox noted, "This is really about getting Facebook out of the way as much as possible."
Ability to Filter the News Feed
Facebook described the new filter capabilities, as "Your Choice of Feeds", or more choice and control
over what users see within their News Feeds. Facebook extended the newspaper metaphor to explain
this capability, comparing the experience of drilling into specific content as similar to a reader jumping
directly to the Sports section. Examples of some of the available Feed selections include:
- All Friends - Only content from friends
- Music - Favorite artists' posts, photos, concerts, new album info
- Photos - Immersive, all photos view
- Games - Focus on games played by a person and their friends
- Following - Chronological posts from businesses, sports teams, public figures and news source pages that a user has liked on Facebook
The order of the feeds menu will be customized based on which feed a person uses most often. Fortunately for brands, filtering is only session based. When a user closes their browser and later logs back into Facebook, the default News feed view is served, which includes all content across categories.
Consistent Experience Across Devices
The new user interface is mobile-inspired, and designed to deliver a consistent experience across desktop, mobile and tablet. Facebook notes that the visuals and global navigation will be uniform across screens.
The new design is also designed to be more adaptive to different screen shapes. For example, Facebook notes that today 35% of desktop users do not have access to the chat sidebar, because their view is too narrow. The new design corrects this inconsistency across device types. This update also ensures designers and publishers can deliver assets in a consistent format across mobile and desktop.
What It All Means
The new design update offers users and brands with a richer canvas to tell stories and a consistent experience across devices. However, the new Feed filters place more control into the hands of the user, which means brands need to work harder to be part of consumers' experience on the platform.
Implications for Brands
- Prepare for New Advertising Opportunities: While no new advertising opportunities were announced today, there is an expectation that the new News Feed filter options will create additional inventory to serve targeted ads.
- Sponsored Stories: In the meantime, continue to maximize socially connected ads (Sponsored Stories) to increase access to the News Feed, as this area remains the most valuable real estate on the Facebook platform.
- Content First: For brands to add value in a relevant way within the new niche feeds (e.g. Music, Games, Following), it is important to develop content-first strategies that will align with these specific areas. Take a content centric approach; advertising will underpin the content strategy.
- Focus on Images: Emphasize visual storytelling to take advantage of the new prominence of visual content.
- Harness Passion Points: Align with user passion points (e.g. talent partnerships, music, articles/content) to earn access to the News Feed filters that they care about.
- Encourage Sharing: Bolster local efforts to encourage check-in and capitalize on efforts with third-party content sources (e.g. Pinterest) that will be showcased prominently within the Facebook News Feed.
- Test. Learn. Adapt.: Analyze engagement rates as these updates roll out to users to determine if exposure and engagement levels have been impacted. Test new content and advertising strategies to establish best practices within the updated platform experience.