By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Facebook is rolling out some pretty significant changes. Over the past week, there has been considerable discussion surrounding words like ‘serendipity.’ We’ve gotten glimpses into the Timeline. We’ve heard grumblings about those little blue corners.
But for brands, nothing has a bigger impact than the changes to user’s News Feeds ⎯ particularly for those smaller businesses who don’t have a big marketing budget to spend on sponsored content or cool apps.
Let’s back up for a minute and remember why the news feed matters in the first place. Back in July, Comscore released a whitepaper, “The Power of Like: How Brands Reach and Influence Fans Through Social Media Marketing,” which analysed how brand impressions reach fans and friends throughout Facebook. One of the most telling bits of data from the report showed that Facebook users disproportionately encounter brands in the News Feed, compared to visiting a brand’s page. For example, users saw Starbucks content in the News Feed 156 times more than they visited the Starbucks Facebook page.
The key takeaway for brands is that the News Feed matters ⎯ a lot. For most brands, the News Feed is their best chance for interacting with fans (aka consumers). According to the same Comscore report, an average of 16% of fans will see brand content if that brand posts 5 out of 7 days.
So if only 16% of a brand’s fans were seeing content before, what can a brand expect after the f8 changes? While the jury is still out and social marketing experts are still trying to piece together the implications, there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to News Feed changes.
No more ‘top stories’ and ‘most recent’
For the News Feed, the once separate ‘top stories’ and ‘most recent’ feeds have been replaced with one news feed that’s automatically adjusted based on the last time a user accessed Facebook. In addition, there’s a real-time news ticker that shows current network activity.
Facebook is sifting through the streams to make it more relevant
Facebook seems to be taking more aggressive steps to cut through the noise and deliver the important and relevant content to users. ‘Relevant’ content will be promoted ⎯ meaning fewer stories and bigger sizes. While individual users will have some control over defining what they want to see, Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm will play a major role (at least at first) in determining what gets top billing.
Even more pressure to share great content
With more behind-the-scenes filtering and less real estate, you can bet that the stakes for creating and sharing high quality content are even higher now. But it might not be all bad news for brands. According to Jesse Noyes at Eloqua, the changes are “a potential plus for brands that can cut through the noise by posting high quality content. People who ‘like’ a brand might see published content in the less noisy space, but only if the brand is strategic about what they push out.”
Of course, that brings us to the million dollar question for any brand marketer…just what makes content ‘high quality’? While there’s no silver bullet, there are two things to keep in mind:
- EdgeRank likes rich media content. This means that photos and videos are more likely to show up in the News Feed. And News Feed photos are larger, meaning you have even more chance to capture attention with some great looking images.
- EdgeRank likes high levels of user engagement. Open-ended participatory posts (like polls and questions), which encourage user comments, should be used more frequently.
There’s always the Ticker
If brands can’t always get top billing in the main News Feed, there’s always the real-time ticker. A user just needs to like your brand and your updates will show up in the ticker. While it is harder to grab attention in this scrolling ticker, it does offer another chance to reach people. Of course, this new development may tempt some businesses to increase the frequency of their posts, but that strategy should be used with caution. If you start posting too often, you’ll just end up encouraging fans to unlike your page or permanently hide your posts. Rather than focusing on quantity, put more effort into coming up with great content and timing each post to catch when your fans are most likely on Facebook.
Over the coming months, we’ll gain a deeper understanding of just how these News Feed changes impact brand visibility and fan engagement. But for now, one thing is clear. Producing great content that fans want to see has always been important in social media; and that need is all the more important now.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.