How Facebook Is Drastically Overhauling The News Feed And What It Means For You

If you use Facebook on a regular basis, then you’ve probably noticed some subtle changes happening to the news feed in recent weeks. They haven’t come out with any big announcements, but they have been quietly rolling out new features to try and make the feed more dynamic.

It always been the most important part of the site in terms of keeping users engaged, but Facebook is known for their ability to continuously re-invent themselves and their latest efforts are all the more impressive since the company’s IPO is in a couple of weeks.

The other interesting thing to see is how the company is starting to introduce new revenue streams into the feed and how they’re trying to shift the feed over to the 500 million mobile users that engage with the site every week as well. Here are all the changes that Facebook is making to the feed and forcing us all to start using.

Trending Articles

There’s a bunch of new social reading apps out there that use the Facebook platform and they are growing rapidly. Facebook really wants you to spend more time reading articles within the site and to help promote these apps, they’ve introduced promoted articles. To be honest, it is pretty rubbish at the moment as there are not enough apps or people using them to make the articles relevant. This feature will probably only get better over time though and could be a valuable source of curated content for us all.

Social Commerce

We wrote about the initial success of Facebook offers yesterday and it’s clear that it’s going to be around for some time. You can expect brands and businesses to start flooding the site with offers once it’s rolled out to a bigger audience. There has been much talk about social commerce over the last couple of years, but this is clearly the dawn of something really special and you can expect to see it in your news feed in the future.

Adverts

This is probably the most controversial of all the additions as anybody who owns a page can now advertise directly into the news feed. These are premium ads and you will only see one per day, but the fact is that for the first time ever, ads are now appearing in the feed.

Apps

Because of the way that Facebook has opened up the platform, you are probably seeing more apps appearing in the news feed. Content like songs your friends are listening to, what films they’re watching and what articles they’re reading. This sort of content used to only appear when you implicitly choose to share it, but now it will appear automatically thanks to frictionless sharing.

Video Apps

There’s always been videos in the news feed, but you used to choose to share them via Youtube and other video sharing websites. In the past couple of months, you will have noticed how video sharing apps have started to take over the news feed. As soon as a friend watches a video, it makes its way onto your feed automatically, meaning that videos are being spread virally.

What Does It Mean For You?

If you use Facebook for personal reasons, although the site is changing drastically, it is probably doing so for the better as it usually knows what’s best for users. If you’re a brand, you’ll find that it’s getting noticed is harder and you either need to have a really good app, or be able to buy advertising. The news feed used to be a simple place, but it’s becoming dynamic as Facebook tries to find additional revenue streams while also improving the user experience.

 

What Facebook’s New Action Links Could Mean For Apps

 

Facebook Timeline and Open Graph has given apps a massive boost on the site, only recently was it announced that mobile traffic has increased dramatically over the last two months. Now Facebook has introduced a new feature designed to let people interact with apps directly from it. Action links allows developers to include customised links, letting users do something different whenever a story appears in your news feed, timeline, or ticker.

From the examples that Facebook has shown, it allows users to bookmark content directly from their Timeline, without having to go into the app directly. One such instance is for Foursquare where users will have the option to ‘Share this Place’, allowing them to save a place to their Foursquare to-do list without having to leave the site. The second example comes from Fab.com which allows users to ‘Fave this Product’ which again bookmarks content directly from the site itself. All actions are accompanied with the usual options of liking and commenting on said update.
Effectively, the new feature streamlines certain processes for users and it’s up to the developers themselves to decide what actions they use. It’s a subtle inclusion, but what action links sets itself up for is the ability to direct further traffic to apps via actions or even generate sales if used correctly. Spotify could have an option to save songs onto a specialised playlist, social readers like The Guardian and The Washington Post could let you bookmark favourite stories and vendors like Ticketmaster may let you save events so you can purchase tickets for it later.

The opportunity to build your audience and drive further traffic towards an app could potentially result in more actions or sales happening for it. Also since these apps already appear on a person’s news feed, it may convince more people to sign up to these services as the functionality improves.

In a developer post, Facebook software engineer Alex Wyler said: ”Action links tie one action to another, and can be part of any Open Graph story. Developers can designate an action link for any action they define, which will then appear throughout Facebook.” The social media site has done a great job in integrating apps without disrupting the user experience and you can’t help but feel that apps will become a greater part of the Facebook experience as time goes by. Now it’s up to app developers to figure out the best way to use this feature and further engage their audiences.

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