The invitations have been sent, the speculation and build-up has begun!
On March 7, 2013, Facebook will unveil the coming new News Feed. The event will include information about the latest changes to Facebook's News Feed and a live demonstration.
The News Feed was identified as one of the "Three Pillars of the Facebook Ecosystem" during the January annnouncement and beta launch of Graph Search. Both the News Feed and Graph Search were identifed by Mark Zuckerberg as two of the three "Pillars of the Facebook Ecosystem." The other pillar was Timeline that launched for everyone in early 2012.
Often, Timeline and the News Feed are confused in articles and posts about Facebook. To clarify, the Timeline is what each user has for their "main page" profile, and the Timeline for companies is their Facebook Page. A user's Timeline is what their custom username url destination goes to so that others can easily find them. For a Page, it is their "landing page" where their custom url goes such as Facebook.com/TabSite. The Timeline includes the large Cover large image and the content on the page includes a users most recent posts and activity as well as links to their photo albums, "About" information, and more.
The News Feed, on the other hand, is what a user accesses when they click the "Home" button in the Facebook top of page navigation. It lists posts by your friends and posts from Groups you are part of and Pages you are a fan of.
NEWS FEED LOCATION
NEWS FEED VIEW ON PC
CURRENT NEWS FEED VIEW ON MOBILE iOS App
Why It Matters:
Since the majority of a users time on Facebook is spent in the News Feed, this is a crucial part of the Facebook platform and user experience. Related is the growth of mobile use by Facebook users. Over 60% of Facebook users access the service on their mobile devices, and they also spent the bulk of their Time in the News Feed. The fact that the News Feed has not changed significantly in the past year means the time is ripe for a change!
As the News Feed goes, so goes Facebook! The News Feed is where users spent time, where brands can be seen by fans and potential customers, and where that delicate balance of ads versus content must be managed by Facebook. Facebook has a lot vested as a publicly traded company in how much revenue they bring in, and the News Feed is absolutely one of the most critical elements to that. However, they must do that while ensuring they do not anger users by showing too many ads. It's a tenuous position, and one that Facebook must tread carefully!
The News Feed Content Dilemma
The big kauna that has been swirling about for months is how
Facebook decides what it displays to each user in their News Feed.
Facebook uses what they identify as the EdgeRank Algorithm to determine what each user sees. The News Feed is personalized for each user, and there are two key factors for Facebook to consider: what to show and in what order. EdgeRank sifts through tens of thousands of potential stories and tries to surface the ones that a user is most likely to engage with. Some of those cues for what to show come from how a user has interacted with similar posts from the past (Likes, Share Comments, or hide). The algorithm also considers how other Facebook users have reacted to the post - are a user's friends or a page's fans clicking, Liking, sharing or hiding this same post, etc.
Then there are the actions Facebook users can take to influence the content of their feed, for instance, adding users to a close friends list, indicating that they only want to see "important updates" from certain people, blocking applications, hiding pages or creating interest lists. Facebook will use this information to show more or less of a particular type of content.
For companies on Facebook, the News Feed is a key method for reaching their fans and potential customers. Yet, most reports note, that a brands posts are only seen by about 16% of their fan base. There is a incredible amount of competition to be seen in the News Feed! A company is competing with a Facebook user's Friends, Groups, lists, and other Pages, as well as Sponsored Ads and Promoted Posts.
In addition, Facebook has made changes in the past 6 months even that impact what is seen. Large images in the News Feed means more eye candy to the user, but potentially less posts being scrolled through in one setting by that same user. Add to that
So What Can One Expect on March 7?
Change is a constant and part of the mantra of Facebook's core values.
There has been little in the way of color or different identification points in the News Feed for some time. With the launch of Ads in mobile News Feed streams perhaps we will see shading differences that will better delineate to the eye what is an Ad and and is a regular post? Perhaps we'll have a more clear indicator of a friend post versus a Page (brand) post.
Images continue to remain at the core of Facebook engagement. The size has increase and I don't expect that to change as images and videos in the News Feed do capture the most attention and prompt the most engagement.
Perhaps we'll see link differences. Facebook would like to keep users on Facebook, so links that link to other places within Facebook could perhaps have a more distinctive or more prominent place than links to web pages that would take a user outside of Facebook.
More "In-Feed" Tools
There has been speculation about the reach of posts, engagement on posts, and whether to use photos and videos in posts or links in posts. Facebook's driving value is in "make the world a more connected place" so perhaps we'll see new ways to learn more right from within the News Feed. Feature that allow, like Facebook videos, thinks to take place immediately in the feed without the user needing to go to a different Facebook page.
Stay tuned as we'll cover the Facebook announcement via our Facebook page and blog!
Thoughts on other changes that we may see?