Facebook News Feed & Timeline: Impact on Brand Pages

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Preparing Your Brand Page for Facebook’s Evolved News Feed & Timeline © 2013 Critical Mass, Inc. All Rights Reserved Social Matters Thursday, 4 April, 13

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Get more of the Critical Mass team's thoughts at our blog: http://sqz.co/f8X2RdW. As much as Facebook is a significant part of the marketing mix for many brands, keeping up with Zuckerberg’s constant tinkering with policies, layouts and ad platform is a little overwhelming. While the introduction of Graph Search was met with indifference, the latest changes announced to the News Feed and user Timeline have significantly more implications for Brand Pages.

Transcript of Facebook News Feed & Timeline: Impact on Brand Pages

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Preparing Your BrandPage for Facebook’s Evolved News Feed & Timeline

1© 2013 Critical Mass, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Social Matters

Thursday, 4 April, 13

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In March 2013, Facebook announced significant changes to the way that content will be displayed to users in three of the core elements of the Facebook platform:

1. News Feed2. Ad units3. Timeline

While these changes are primarily aimed at individual users and will roll out over the next several months, the Critical Mass social media strategy team has identified the impact these adjustments will have on Brand Pages and has outlined the implications and action plan for each element.

Rethinking Your Brand’s Visual Presence on Facebook

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NEWS FEED

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Based on current user behavior, Facebook announced several significant changes to the News Feed that will have a major impact on how brands consider and construct the content they share through pages, apps and ads:

- Primacy of visual content

- Screen consistency between desktop and mobile

- Enhanced News feed filtering

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What’s Changing

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With News Feed content continuing to trend towards multimedia sharing, the real estate allocated to this type of content is being increased.

- The size of photos and videos will increase significantly

- Thumbnails from linked content will have a cleaner look with more white space

- Image-driven apps will be given more prominence

- Page likes will now display both the cover photo and the profile image

Primacy of Visuals

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Examples - Photos/Videos

Before After

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Examples - Thumbnails

Before After

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Examples - Page Likes

Before After

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Facebook’s continuing evolution to a mobile-first experience has seen the social network continue to adjust to the way users choose to access their profile and share content with each other.

As of December, 2012, users accessed the site from their mobile devices. In recognition of this continuing trend, Facebook has unified the News Feed experience across all devices for the first time.

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608 million

Screen Consistency

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608 million

Screen Consistency Example

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In line with the primacy of visual storytelling in the newsfeed, images shared through Graph Apps such as Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads and Netflix will be even more prominent.

App Integration

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Example - Pinterest

Before After

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Facebook has gone back and forth with News Feed filtering over the years. Users ultimately want to control what they see. For some, they see too much. Others don’t see what they want or expect to see. Trying to find the right level of control for users is a tricky undertaking.

The latest attempt puts filtering in an obvious place on the News Feed and gives users a choice of options that could potentially relegate Brand Pages to a second tier within many people’s News Feeds.

Enhanced Filtering

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News Feeds currently feature sorting mechanism that allows users to switch between the default “top stories” setting and “most recent” stories. The new News Feed will include the ability to navigate by friends, content type or “following,” which is where Brand Pages will be housed.

Example - Enhanced Filtering

Before After

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FACEBOOK ADS

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Some of Facebook’s ad units have received makeovers in line with the look of the updated News Feed, but it seems they are taking their time and testing different types as the News Feed rolls out over the next few months.

As is shown in the following examples, some sponsored story units have a new visually-enhanced look, while marketplace ads that appear in the right rail have a cleaner look.

One key change to note is the prominence of the “hide” button on the new ad units.

What’s Changing

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Examples - Facebook Ads in the News Feed

Before After

Page-like sponsored story

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Examples - Facebook Ads in the News Feed

Before After

Page-like sponsored story with recent post

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Examples - Facebook Ads in the News Feed

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Page-post photo ad

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Examples - Facebook Ads in the right rail

Before After

Notice how the ad titles align with the rest of the copy, giving the ad images more prominence

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Action Items for Brand

Pages

Relevant, compelling content is still the key to success in social

Use of the entire Facebook ecosystem (page, apps, ads) ensures reach and engagement

Improve the visual quality and cadence of the visual content your brand is sharing

Create and optimize images for use on desktop, tablet, smartphone and Facebook media

Consider adding image-sharing apps to your social footprint (e.g. Pinterest, Instagram, Vine)

Use short, direct, well-crafted copy to support images.

Monitor Page Insights as the Newsfeed is adopted by all users to determine if Page reach and engagement drops due to filtering

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TIMELINE

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Facebook introduced Timeline to personal profiles in September 2011 and followed that with Timeline for Pages in February 2012.

While rolled out much more quietly in the days following their News Feed announcement, Timeline is getting a new look in line with the other image-centric changes.

Even though this will roll out to personal profiles first, it’s safe to expect that Brand Pages will see this change come in the months ahead as Facebook likes to keep the experience consistent.

What’s Changing

Two-column layout adjusted to 40:60 ratio from 50:50

- Personal posts will be in the expanded right column

- What is being called the “About” section displays down the reduced left column and mandatorily features “About ,“Friends” and “Photos”. Other former tabs can be selected along with apps that you wish to display here

Tab icons have been removed

- Some brands use custom tab icons to add additional visual interest to their page. A cleaner design will put more focus on the cover image and profile picture

Other recent changes

In addition to the Timeline layout, additional changes to content structure and policies have recently been announced that will have a more immediate impact on Brand Page design and content strategy:

- Comments on posts will be threaded making it easier to have a discussion in the comments

- Cover images can now contain calls to action, though Facebook still maintains text must take up no more than 20% of the image

- Possible inclusion of hashtags to allow for aggregation/searching of posts similar to Twitter

The key changes in the personal Timeline that are most significant are:

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Examples - Timeline

Before After

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Threaded Comments

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Action Items for Brand

Pages

As there has been no word on how Timeline will be rolled out to Brand Pages, there is very little to be done proactively. Should there be plans to invest in new content or pages in the later part of 2013, consider the following:

Prepare for changing dimensions of images in future single-column posts

Prepare for need to resize older images in posts and milestones

Prepare your Brand Page layout for the elimination of tab icons

Experiment with integrating image-centric apps like Instagram and Pinterest

Test using calls to action in the cover image and gauge response from page fans

Adjust community management protocols to accommodate replies/threaded comments

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Critical Mass

About

Critical Mass, an Omnicom digital marketing agency, helps the world's leading companies use digital media to create extraordinary experiences—experiences that bring together creative thinking, smart ideas and emerging technologies to drive our clients’ businesses. Consistently recognized as a leading interactive agency, Critical Mass operates globally from offices in Calgary, Toronto, Chicago, New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam and Costa Rica.

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Social Media Team

David Jones, VP Social Media @DoctorJones

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Nikki Lloyd, Community Manager @Nikki_Lloyd

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http://www.insidefacebook.com/2013/03/07/how-ads-look-in-the-new-news-feed-layout/

https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2013/03/13/making-apps-a-bigger-part-of-timeline/

http://newsroom.fb.com/News/584/Improvements-to-Timeline

http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/13/facebook-timeline-redesign/

http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/Infographic_Photo_posts_get_120_more_engagement_on_46290.aspx#

http://www.buddymedia.com/newsroom/2012/09/salesforce-buddy-media-facebook-timeline-best-practices-wall-posts/

Further Reading

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