Mobile and Web Marketing, Advertising and Tech Shmooze

– How the “new Facebook” impacts news feed optimization

How the “new Facebook” impacts news feed optimization

From iMedia written by  Scott Meldrum

Over the last two weeks, Facebook released several bold enhancements to its platform that give users more freedom and flexibility with the way they share content and communicate with friends. These enhancements touch nearly every facet of the user experience, which will have far-reaching implications for marketers who communicate with their customers on the platform.

Facebook’s news feed has created a conundrum for marketers who leverage Facebook for daily communication with customers. Brands with hundreds of thousands of fans and “likes” have been algorithmically neutered by EdgeRank, and they are reaching less than 10 percent of their fans in the news feed with each post. These new enhancements hold both promise and challenges ahead for brands that want to drive greater levels of interaction and reach via the news feed.

Below is a brief summary of some of the key enhancements and how they may impact the day-to-day marketing communications process within the news feed.

Top Stories: Clearly, the most important of all of the changes is how Facebook is organizing the user’s news feed. Users will now have more power over what posts they see and hide. The process of organizing updates from friends and pages is much more fluid as it happens in line with the feed. This will enable the user to optimize IN or optimize OUT various types of content on the fly. The primary feature of the new news feed is “Top Stories.” Top Stories was the default view for the user’s news feed prior to the change. Now it is pretty much the only view. Facebook’s intention with these changes is for the news feed to be “your own personal newspaper,” showing updates that matter most to the user.

You will see these Top Stories as indicated by a blue arrow in the top left corner of the post. You will also be able to see what top stories you have missed since your last visit. This is EdgeRank on steroids. It is informed by both user customization (now much easier), and by usage data. Brands need to create much stickier content in order not to be optimized out by the user. While this has always been a primary aim for smart brands that market on the platform, it’s going to become exponentially harder to maintain consistent share of voice in the news feed as users begin to exercise these opt-out and opt-lite features. You can get more information on Top Stories here.

Ticker: In conjunction with the Top Stories feature, Facebook has added “Ticker.” The feature is quite simple: a running stream of posts is now displayed in the upper right corner of your Facebook page. It works in real-time just like Twitter. The posts are abbreviated to get more of them into the stream. You can read the entire post by expanding the view within it. The ticker only displays text. Those posts containing content (video, images, links) are viewable once you expand the post.

Ticker and Top Stories work together to form how users receive content via the news feed. Top Stories surfaces content that is most relevant to you, whereas Ticker shows everything in real-time. This can make Ticker a bit overwhelming after a while. It’s unclear how this will affect post reach on the platform. It would seem that it would be improved since the posts that don’t make it to Top Stories should surface in Ticker, but the life span of a post in Ticker can be very short given the number of connections who are posting. It would appear that brand exposure in Ticker is fleeting at best. The key here will be to understand user interaction in the weeks ahead to get the most out of Ticker. If you can leverage both Top Stories and Ticker together, you will likely have a winning combination for brand communications on the platform. More information on Ticker can be found here (lower in the page).

Improved friend list: It’s now easier than ever to form groups of friends whose content you want surfaced in your news feed. This formerly convoluted process is now quite simple and even algorithmically automated. Users can form lists of friends and of the pages they like. The challenge for brands is to be top-of-mind and relevant enough to make the list. It’s more important than ever to refine your messaging and content strategy so that fans add you to one or more of their lists. In some cases, it may even be necessary to request that your fans add you to one or more of their lists much like you would request to be added to their “safe senders” email list. You can read more about it here.

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