Last week, Face­book announced a new lay­out of the Face­book Home Page designed to reduce clut­ter, make sto­ries more visual and engag­ing, and help users sort through the flood of sto­ries to find those they are most inter­ested in. The change seems sure to ben­e­fit users, but many of our cus­tomers are ask­ing us how this will affect their pub­lish­ing and mar­ket­ing strate­gies on Facebook.

Users choose how con­tent is filtered

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The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a visual redesign of News Feed only and does not change the algo­rithms Face­book uses to deter­mine which con­tent to put in front of users. It does, how­ever, give those users a lot more options in terms of how they fil­ter that con­tent. Users can choose to view their stan­dard News Feed or fil­ter News Feed con­tent through a vari­ety of new feeds, includ­ing Pho­tos (all photo sto­ries, all the time), Music (sto­ries from bands users Like and about music their friends are lis­ten­ing to), Most Recent, Fol­low­ing (sto­ries from Pages and celebri­ties users fol­low), or lists the user has cre­ated (such as Fam­ily or Close Friends).

One poten­tial ben­e­fit for mar­keters is that with the more promi­nent Fol­low­ing feed option, users will be able to dis­cover more con­tent from the brands and celebri­ties they fol­low, con­tent that today is often hid­den between sto­ries from friends and fam­ily that users may be more likely to engage with. But whether or not most users choose to use these new feeds or stick with the more famil­iar default News Feed (or the new Pho­tos and Music feeds, which are likely to be pop­u­lar) is still unknown. This is some­thing we’ll be mon­i­tor­ing in the com­ing months as Face­book rolls out these changes.

A poten­tial down­side could be the frag­men­ta­tion of a brand’s Face­book audi­ence, mak­ing reach­ing crit­i­cal mass for a given mes­sage a dif­fi­cult task. Mak­ing sure you reach your desired audi­ence may now require a bit more plan­ning and thought. One thing is clear: robust mea­sure­ment, like that offered by Adobe Social, will be crit­i­cal to ensur­ing mar­keters can under­stand the impact of these changes on engage­ment and adjust their Face­book mar­ket­ing strate­gies accordingly.

Visual con­tent is king

The next big, obvi­ous change is that sto­ries in News Feed are big­ger and more engag­ing. Pho­tos, arti­cles, maps, events, Page posts, and spon­sored sto­ries will all stand out even more. For example:

  1. A Page Like story will now dis­play the Cover Photo of the brand Page that has been Liked.
  2. A check-in story will show a map of the restau­rant or retail loca­tion a friend checked in to.
  3. New Page posts, ads, and Spon­sored Sto­ries will all give mar­keters more space to cre­ate vibrant visual messages.
  4. Third party video (YouTube, Vimeo) will now get treated like native Face­book video, which means full-width con­tent and in-News Feed viewing.
  5. Pub­lished links will be accom­pa­nied by larger thumb­nails and excerpts as the default link and appli­ca­tion treatment.

These changes are good news for most mar­keters, but the pres­sure to com­pete with com­pelling, rel­e­vant visual con­tent is now greater than ever. The images you choose to place on Face­book will speak louder than your words—so choose care­fully, and make sure these images both appro­pri­ately reflect your brand and inspire and engage your fans. Take this oppor­tu­nity to pub­lish more and bet­ter pho­tos and videos, and you are likely to reap the rewards in terms of engage­ment with your Face­book community.

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Ads just got more engaging

The changes to ads are also sig­nif­i­cant. Over­all the visual space for ads has grown, and Page Like sto­ries now dis­play a cover photo, giv­ing users more con­text about the brand and brands the chance to update cover pho­tos fre­quently to syn­chro­nize them with paid mar­ket­ing mes­sages. Even Facebook’s orig­i­nal ads that don’t con­tain any rich media and live in the right-hand rail have grown. If Face­book is right and users show a stronger inter­est in active, per­son­al­ized News Feeds, we pre­dict that embed­ded ads will likely be more rel­e­vant and gen­er­ate higher ROI for adver­tis­ers. How­ever, the Hide but­ton will also be more promi­nent, giv­ing fans an easy out when they don’t want to see your ads. The pres­sure is on to make sure you’re offer­ing your fans and cus­tomers true added value.

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Cross-device con­sis­tency for News Feed

The final design change is to unify the Face­book News Feed expe­ri­ence across web, phone, and tablet, bring­ing a lot of func­tion­al­ity users have got­ten used to in the mobile ver­sions to the web expe­ri­ence. We don’t antic­i­pate this hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant effect on mar­keters, except to make the expe­ri­ence cleaner and more con­sis­tent for users, which should boost over­all engage­ment. It does, how­ever, mean that you should pay close atten­tion to your brand assets, pho­tos, and any links or descrip­tions of prod­ucts or ser­vices to ensure con­sis­tency across devices.

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Impli­ca­tions for Adobe Social users

Noth­ing will change in terms of how our cus­tomers pub­lish con­tent from Adobe Social. Some of our exist­ing fea­tures, such as the abil­ity to sched­ule cover photo updates and ad launches at the same time, will be a huge ben­e­fit for mar­keters. In addi­tion, we’ll be gath­er­ing data and mon­i­tor­ing how the News Feed changes impact engage­ment and con­ver­sion lev­els. Face­book is rolling this out slowly over the com­ing weeks; as a Strate­gic Pre­ferred Mar­ket­ing Devel­oper, Adobe will work closely with Face­book to ana­lyze the impact on user inter­ac­tion and engage­ment as they decide whether to make the change holis­ti­cally. Please reach out to your Account Man­ager with any addi­tional questions.

So what do we do now?

Per­haps most notable about these News Feed updates is how lit­tle they actu­ally change things for social mar­keters. Though you may want to take more advan­tage of the enhanced adver­tis­ing options avail­able on Face­book, beyond that, our best advice is to step it up in terms of best prac­tices you’re already employ­ing: Increase visual con­tent; know your audi­ence and what acti­vates them; ensure you’re bring­ing valu­able, inter­est­ing con­tent to users’ News Feeds; and tell great stories.

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