Today, Facebook held a press conference to unveil their redesigned news feed. This is their first major update since Timeline was introduced in late 2011, and like all changes Facebook makes to their interface, it’s already been put under a microscope several times over. Here, I’ll try to put what these updates mean in layman’s terms, both for casual users of the social network and for those of us who use it as the valuable marketing tool that it is.
For Facebook users, the biggest change will be visual. Taking cues from the designs of Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram—and finally recognizing a larger trend in web design instead of creating the trend themselves—Facebook’s new news feed is larger and cleaner, and will be consistent across all platforms, including the all-important mobile. Photos, the type of media most shared by users over text, videos and links, will now appear much, much larger in the news feed than ever before. Considering it’s easier than ever to shoot and edit high-quality photos with a smartphone, Facebook is banking that users will be able to easily adapt to this change. They’re probably right.
The other huge change is how information like statuses will be organized and allocated. Under the old design, Facebook presents two options for users when reading their news feed: Top Stories, based on Facebook’s algorithims, are generally to what most users default. There’s also an option for Most Recent, which will sort status updates from newest on. With the new news feed, there are at least seven different sorting options. Via Mashable:
“Instead of two options for how to sort your News Feed — “Top Stories” and “Most Recent” — Facebook now offers a dizzying seven options.
You get regular old News Feed (the equivalent of Top Stories, sorted by the Facebook algorithm), “All Friends” (headed up by a photo with a selection of friends in it), “Following” for the Pages and public figures you follow; “Photos,” “Groups,” “Games,” “Music” and your old friend “Most Recent.”
In fact, you get even more options than that. Click on “see all” and you’ll be able to view your News Feed by your location, or only people you follow at your work place, or only people in your high school, and so on.
All in all, I counted 20 ways to view my News Feed. Your mileage may vary.”
The “Following” sorting option might cause some marketers to scratch their heads. In theory, the new options are designed to create a more centralized user experience, but in reality they could completely hide updates on business Pages from users who would otherwise see them in their news feed on the old design. It’s a hurdle, but not a mountain: While the redesign could hinder businesses and marketers at first, the idea is that users will still be following the Pages they care about, making the business-customer relationship even more important on Facebook than it’s ever been. It’ll yield new campaigns, and new lines of thinking when it comes to how best to reach potential customers, engage them and retain them, breeding more creative ideas and innovation. In other words: lazy, unmotivated marketers won’t last under the new system. Adapt or die!