What does Facebook’s News Feed redesign mean for business pages?

Facebook is in the process of rolling out, very gradually it seems, a redesigned News Feed for the popular social site, which several members of our team have recently gained access to.

The updated look features a more app like feel with navigation icons to the left of the News Feed stream. This look will be consistent across desktop, tablet and other mobile devices. Facebook has begun the rollout for desktop, but the mobile rollout will come further down the road.

As Facebook had announced in their press conference back on March 7 rich media such as photos and videos are front and center on the new News Feed.

But what do these changes mean for Facebook’s business page owners?

Old News Feed

According to Facebook the main reason for the redesign, however, is to make it easier for users to find what interests them. Zuckerberg compared it to a newspaper. If users just want to see stories about Wall Street they would flip to the business section. Likewise, if users only want to see stories about their friends they can flip to the “All Friends” view on the new Facebook News Feed.


To navigate between News Feed streams users can click on the drop down on the upper right navigation under “News Feed.” There you will see options to view the Photos stream, Game stream, All Friends stream and more.

Although Facebook users now have a choice when it comes to what they view, the separation of news feeds does not necessarily lead to a negative impact for business pages. Under the “Following” news feed, fans now have a place to go to see only those posts from pages they like and those they follow. Previously Pages were forced to compete with a users family and friends for space in the News Feed, now they have a space where every update will be shown.

Furthermore if a user chooses to view the “Following” feed this means they are actively seeking out this type of content and are much more likely to want to interact with it versus having it placed in front of them when they are looking for content from their friends or family. So in that regard, the separation of these News Feeds could actually result in increased engagement for business pages.

Facebook has assured advertisers that sponsored stories and posts have the ability to show up in any of the streams, including the “All Friends” and “Photos” feeds. (So far we have yet to see any sponsored posts appear in any streams other than the main News Feed.) Businesses can take advantage by advertising posts featuring photos and videos, which now take up a larger portion of real estate on the News Feed.

Likewise, standard ads on the right hand side appear to be more prominent on the new design. Take a look at these two screenshots. The new design features a bolder black headline with the image to the left. The images seem to be slightly larger as well and when there is a call to action button it is very easy to see and click on.

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 11.25.24 AM

The update does not affect Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which will remain the same. So pages still have the same opportunity to make it into the general News Feed (which is the default view for users). Generally speaking posts reach 15-20 percent of a page’s fans organically. Businesses should continue to post interesting, relevant content and work to engage users in order increase exposure and their chances of making it into the News Feed.

The EdgeRank algorithm takes into account three things; affinity, weight and decay. Affinity is the result of the users relationship with the object posted and the person or page doing the posting. The more often the user has engaged with the page and with similar types of posts the higher the affinity that person has with the object. Weight is determined by the type of object, whether it is a photo, video, link etc. Photos tend to carry greater weight on Facebook because they generate a lot of engagement. Time Decay comes into play as a post ages, the older the object the lower the value.

Here are a few tips for beating EdgeRank and increasing your exposure in the News Feed.

Make your posts visual.

According to Facebook and other studies people tend to respond better to more visual stories. With the new design business have an even more visually rich way to showcase content. Be sure to include visually appealing photos and videos in your posts often.

Ask questions.

Ask simple questions on your posts to encourage engagement. You can either set up a question with poll options for users to select or you can simply add a question to the end of your post. It can be as simple as asking fans for their opinion on a topic.

Post during optimal times.

Determine the optimal posting times for your page. This will help to increase engagement on your posts. You can do this by posting randomly for a month or until you have enough data to analyze. Then determine which posts received the highest engagement and if there is a correlation between the level of engagement and the time posted. There are also tools out there that will determine the optimal posting time for you.

Utilize promoted posts and sponsored stories.

Create promoted posts and sponsored stories to further the reach of your posts. You don’t have to spend a lot to drastically increase the exposure and engagement on your posts. And each story generated from these paid for engagements has the chance to be displayed in those users’ friends’ News Feeds furthering your reach even more.

Summary

The redesigned News Feed has the potential to benefit Business Pages considering the larger images and more prominent ad displays. Otherwise Pages have the same opportunity to appear in the main News Feed as they did before. Now, however, with the “Following” feed, there is a space where users can view all of the posts from Pages they like and follow in chronological order.

In the end it’s about posting relevant engaging content that will encourage followers and fans to interact. Figure out what works for your page and don’t be afraid to try new ideas. Have you gotten the redesigned feed and if so, what are your thoughts on the new layout? Have you noticed any changes to your page reach and engagement?

JayHawkinson_SIMPartners

Jay Hawkinson is a partner at SIM Partners and has more than 12 years of online marketing experience. He can be reached at jhawkinson@simpartners.com.  

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