I spend the majority of my day on Facebook. Under normal circumstances that might deem me a stalker. But my 50 hours/week on the social platform is how I make my living. After my initial plans to become an architect, and later, a matador, failed, I became a community manager, where I run the Facebook brand pages for various companies. And through this ongoing quest to reach my audience, coupled with my use of Facebook as an everyday user, I have a request to the behemoth of a network. Let me segment my feed.
It is becoming increasingly more attractive for brands to establish themselves on Facebook because of a series of offerings – insights, moderation tools, HTML tabs, easy to implement media, etc. However, the most attractive benefit is the ability to bring your content to the most engaging real estate on the internet – the Facebook News Feeds.
But as attractive as that might be in principle, it’s increasingly more difficult to be heard. As it stands now, the Facebook feed is a disorganized aggregate of everything I subscribe to – pages for the products I use, publications I read, apps I’ve downloaded, and of course, my beloved friends. A breaking CNN post might be sandwiched between a relationship status update and an old girlfriend’s Acapulco pictures (I swear she looked much better in high school). So why not make it easier for users to navigate?
One rebuttal might be that Facebook does make it easier. My feed is prioritised by an algorithm, which takes into account my user behaviour. If I often engage with content from The Atlantic, their updates show more frequently and prominently in my feed. However, it can’t identify my motive for logging on at that particular time. It can’t tell whether I want to leisurely browse through my friends, catch up on current events, or possibly see if any brands are offering coupons. The content I’m looking for could be buried or nonexistent.
I’d like to see multiple feeds. For instance, imagine if you could separate your feed into at least three key areas of interest such as Publications (i.e. New York Times page), Products (i.e. Dos Equis’ activity) and Friends (i.e. Joey D. from High School, what’s he up to?). This would benefit the user on two key levels – organisation and visibility.
Take the hypothetical “Publication Feed” for instance. If I’ve become a fan of my 10 favourite news publications, I could wake up and tap into my “Publication Feed” to see what’s been posted recently. It now serves as an incredibly engaging aggregate that could substitute for say, I don’t know, GOOGLE NEWS. Additionally, users would have come to the “Publication Feed” with a clearer intent, and are more inclined to engage on a high level. The same rationale is applied for products, where users like to keep tabs on deals and updates from their favourite companies.
A recent CNN article noted that, “Facebook is taking major steps to ensure that its News Feeds contain more actual news.” One of the steps they’ve taken is encouraging journalists to posts important updates on Facebook. Great idea. But when a post about Libyan protests resides next to Joey D’s update, “Red Wings suck!”, it loses its visibility.
Facebook also stands to benefit immensely from this change in feed organisation. For one, brands would be more inclined to invest in their Facebook presence if had more fan engage,ent and visibility. That means more media dollars spent toward driving users to the platform (more traffic), or spending more media dollars within Facebook to drive users to the page (Start humming Pink Floyd’s Money now).
This segmentation, or some variation, would be a huge step toward defining the potential role of Facebook. By bringing a little organisation to an overwhelming feed, it could become the web’s ultimate aggregate. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think the ex- just uploaded another vacation album. Hopefully I can find it.