On March 7th, 2013 Facebook announced a “major” redesign to their News Feed. The red-designed News Feed is still in testing and will be rolled out over the next few months. Many people have been able to sign up for early usage. (To view the Facebook News Feed page, go: to https://www.facebook.com/about/newsfeed.)
In short, the three main components of the redesign are: 1)desktop to mobile device consistency 2) a greater emphasis on photography and video 3) providing users with multiple streams in their News Feed (similar to the Goggle+ layout) that enable them to organize and sort through the various types of “relationships” and “activities” they engage with on Facebook.
As of the announcement, the different types if News streams are “News Feed,” “All Friends,” “Close Friends” “Following/Pages” ” Photos” “Music” “Apps” and “Games”
The multiple news streams have brought up many concerns as it appears that users will have the ability to only focus on their “All Friends” stream….this is a stream that does not allow posts from a users business Pages. Instead, if a user would like to view the Pages they are followings posts, they have to manually switch to the “Following” feed. Additionally, it is not clear how Sponsored Stories and Promoted posts will be displayed across these multiple streams.
Due to upcoming release of the redesign the News Feed, I believe that right now is not the best time for small businesses to make any long-range strategic decisions or financial commitments related to Facebook social media marketing. From a marketing perspective, there are too many unknowns about how the redesigned News Feed will impact brand and business Page’s Facebook marketing tactics moving forward. Because the redesigned News Feed is still in a testing phase, even the social media “experts” are not fully equipped to provide meaningful guidance on how a business Page needs to rethink their marketing efforts to accomodate the changes to the News Feed.
The are a lot of questions that need to be answered. For example:
Will small business need to establish and dedicate a monthly marketing budget just for Facebook “advertising” costs. If so, how much should this budget be and how does one determine an ROI for this monthly investment?
What will the targeting and content strategy need to be to ensure that paid-for content by a business page is meaningful and relevant as to provide value to Page Followers?
Additionally, with the shift to placing greater emphasis on photos and videos rather than text only posts, what does this mean for business that don’t have deep photo or video assets? Whatkind of investment will a business have to make to get some sort of catalogue of higher quality images for use in Facebook marketing? In order to compensate for a lack of “great” product photography, a small business needs to be much more selective with the type of posts they make on Facebook to ensure that they include great photography. This will require a bigger time commitment of staff for weekly content post planning.
In summary, until the News Feed is rolled out to a broader audience, I do not recommend making any big decisions about Facebook marketing. Stay tuned.