Facebook News Feed changes: Do we need them and do we care?

 

As regular readers of our public relations agency blog will know, the world’s number one social network is preparing to impact another set of changes that will affect the way in which it displays information. But how necessary are these alterations?
Well, in many ways they sound like just the ticket. Take for example the way Facebook mobile will now be the consistent design across all platforms, including desktops, avoiding confusion, cleaning up all the chaos we’re currently faced with, and making navigation easier. Larger images are set to make News Feed entries more visible too, and there will be more space to accommodate longer introductions to articles and linked content.
Those ideas certainly make sense. Photos account for 50% of an average Feed, with links to web pages making up another 20-30%, as such having this content govern the overall layout is logical. As storytellers, here at Smoking Gun PR we’re rather excited about the prospect of more comprehensive summaries to give people a real insight into what an item is about, and publishers will probably be happy too, with logos set to appear alongside links to their content.
The amendments go well beyond this, though. When people post content their Friends and Fans will now be given more details on where in the world the update came from, whilst users will also soon be offered different versions of the News Feed, depending on what they want to see. These will include photos-only, music related posts, and content taken from the Pages and public figures they Like, which comes under a new ‘Following’ filter.
According to Chris Struhar, Facebook’s Tech Lead, this will show brands that ‘every single’ post they make is being made visible to Fans. However,  as per comments on Facebook Studio, not everyone is convinced, largely because posts from businesses are currently only seen by around 16% of the people following that company. The reason for this, Facebook’s Director of Product Marketing Brian Boland once told Tech Crunch, is that “…there are pieces of content you create that are interesting, and there’s some that are not.”
Unsurprisingly, frequently asked questions centre on where the line between useful and inane is drawn, who draws it, and whether the real reason for that drawing is to save us from information overload, or to promote the use of paid-for advertising on the network. Of course it’s too early for judgements to be made on the positive impact the fresh look could have in terms of content reach, and sceptics could have a valid point- forcing people onto a separate tab in order to access all posts from their favourite brands et al could be too much like hard work for some, harming business visibility in the long run. Either way we’re ready to welcome a tidier screen, and more detailed shares definitely won’t go amiss… we’ll just have to wait and see on the rest.