By Michael Olson | Posted on April 12, 2013
A wise and ambitious colleague of mine here at Janrain has boldly aspired to do her part to rid the (online) world of clutter. Clearly, she is not alone. Holding up its end of the bargain, Facebook recently bid adieu to its self-described clutter by launching the latest rendition of its news feed last month. Amid the sleek redesigned look are two subtle changes that will cause marketers to place an increased emphasis on integrating social sharing tools into their brand websites.
While the news feed will remain the default setting on the Facebook home page, users will now be able to toggle between viewing two additional distinct feeds – one featuring updates from friends, and a second exclusively featuring updates from brands liked by the user. Because consumers still use Facebook primarily to interact with friends, and the average Facebook user has 262 friends as opposed to liking about 80 brand pages, Facebook users may increasingly self-select into the content feed featuring updates from friends as opposed to brands.
How will this impact social media marketers? It could yield a decrease in impressions for posts from liked brand pages. If we assume that impressions within the friends feed will trump impressions within the feed for followed brands due to our natural predisposition to favor content from friends, then brands will need to find new ways to penetrate the news feed and disseminate their content. Social sharing, which empowers online consumers to share comments, articles, purchases, products and other content from websites directly to their social network, is the golden ticket.
Facebook is tweaking its news feed algorithm to place greater emphasis on posts and status updates that include rich media. We shouldn’t be surprised by this change. After all, our eyes organically gravitate toward images and videos within the news feed, and these types of posts tend to generate the highest click-through rates.
This change dovetails with a recent assertion that Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm provides up to 1,300 percent more weight to shares than likes in terms of placement within the news feed. This is good news for marketers seeking to encourage the use of social sharing on their own websites, due to the fact that content published to Facebook via an effective sharing technology solution dynamically incorporates a thumbnail image from the page, in addition to populating the page’s meta title and description into the shared post.
You’ve probably heard us say it before, but as networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn become so entrenched in our culture, social feeds are evolving into a powerful recommendation engine for new content, ideas and products. In short, our friends are helping us navigate the web. The latest evolution in Facebook’s news feed will reward digital marketers who grasp this paradigm shift and empower consumers to advocate on their behalf.
What do you think of Facebook’s news feed changes? How do you plan to evolve your social sharing and Facebook strategies as a result of the changes? I’d love to hear your take in the comments below.
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