What’s Up with the Facebook Changes?
Note: Guest blogger Michael Newman has worked in the professional audio and musical instrument industries in product management for 20 years. He currently provides Internet and social media marketing advice and services through Michael Newman Consulting, based in San Diego, California. His newsletter and blog provide interviews and helpful information on Internet and social media marketing.
The new timeline feature will provide a much richer experience for those wanting to share their stories and life history. In beta now, the feature is supposed to be available to everyone over the next few weeks.
As we know, the stories we currently share roll off the page and after time others have to scroll down and select the older post option to view that information. Many of course don’t do that so friends miss important posts you place on your Facebook page.
The new Timeline is very image oriented starting with a large cover picture at the top of the page. After the cover picture is the biographical information that was previously on the Info tab. The timeline also displays four sections of information separated by content type: Friends, Photos, Map and Likes. Users can also add other types of content. Highlighting content will make that content larger and you can even hide specific content which sounds like a very customizable experience.
You can go back to your private activity log and find a specific piece of content you shared on Facebook so that you can add it to your Timeline. You can add a new type of social application to your timeline that shows the things you are doing. You can see the benefits to marketers – by creating these types of timeline applications, friends of friends can share what they are experiencing. For example, Spotify has worked with Facebook to create an app that highlights a song you may have chosen and the fact that you are using Spotify as your music provider.
The real-time ticker is a mini-feed that appears in the right hand upper portion of your profile page that provides a live stream of your friends’ updates. Most of you that use Facebook for personal use are probably aware of this feature already. By hovering over a post you can obtain more information about the post and interact with that post if you so choose.
News Feed Changes
The most controversial area of changes seems to be with the News Feed. Previously we had the option to choose between most recent stories and “Top News” that Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm deemed was more popular, based on interactions and type of content. Facebook has eliminated the “Most Recent” option to give us just one news feed. Facebook states that the “most interesting stories” since you have been away will now be shown at the top of the page with a blue triangle in the top left hand corner. If you are a frequent visitor to your page you will see the most recent stories first.
These “most interesting stories” or top stories are posted at the top of the page based on many factors, including our relationship to the person posting the story and the number of comments and likes the story has. The interesting aspect is that in an initial study by Edgerank Checker, impressions per post (the number of times a post is seen on Facebook by fans and non-fans) is down 33% but Likes and comments are up 17%. If this reads like Greek to you, remember that the more you get your fans engaged with content on your page — the more your posts will show up to friends of fans throughout Facebook. We measure this post frequency in impressions.
Before you get alarmed remember that this is initial data and has not been measured over time. Facebook ad revenue is measured in the billions and they want to keep that growth steady.
Sharing posts is up particularly for single photos most likely since there is now a count of how many times the post has been shared and by whom. Also photos are bigger in the news feed than before. Since posting photos previously provided a better Edgerank count than links or auto posts, this emphasizes that photos and videos still make great viral content. Keep posting those pictures and videos!
More Than the “Like” Button
Facebook research has shown that some users were hesitant to click the “Like” button on posts because of the implied endorsement. Therefore Facebook will be rolling out “watched,” “listened” and “read” buttons attached to posts. Also Facebook is giving developers the ability to create their own buttons with the appropriate verb that they choose.
This program is called “Gestures” and is the next step in Facebook’s Internet integration. Imagine having a music-oriented verb button next to your most popular musical instruments such as “played” on your website.
Changes to Facebook Advertising
Sponsored Story ads which some say have increased click-through rates by as much as 30% now provide the ability to include tracking tags as well as allow marketers to choose the post for the ad. This new field is called “optional URL tags” and provides the ability to track ad conversions with analytics tools. Previously it was difficult to determine whether someone was coming to your website from an ad or from a news feed link.
What Does it All Mean?
If you have been thinking that this looks like a social feedback loop you are right. Social apps will fuel stories in the real-time ticker. Friends will check them out and share the experience. Imagine a fan of yours displaying your product in their timeline. In some instances it may be better than a forum endorsement given the potential for sharing and commenting. Add an app to the mix and lookout!
Put some action verbs on your site instead of the Like button. Think about the action verbs you can use that are tied to your specific products and try some out.
Really understand the behavior of your fans. What do they respond to, what do they like, what will they share? Use sponsored stories to advertise what you and your fans post on your page. The writing is on the wall. Intent-based advertising is the future and it’s here now. Understand that intent and use it wisely to spread the word.
Just the Beginning
There are more changes coming and some will most likely be announced over the next few weeks. Hang in there and read up on the changes and understand how they affect your social strategies. The roller coaster is not slowing down and the new track is being laid down as we speak!