Welcome to the New, New Facebook
by Bonny Parker
Facebook has unveiled its first major visual re-design since the Cover Photo and Timeline were introduced in 2011 - and it's a winner.
What has changed?
Facebook has just become prettier and a lot more user-friendly.
Facebook has made updates from friends and Brand Pages more visual and more engaging, provided a choice of different feeds, and created true mobile consistency, giving users the same experience across all devices.
All visual content in the Newsfeed is larger than ever, whether the content comes from users' friends, Pages they're following or even ads.
In addition to the standard Newsfeed, Facebook has also launched custom feeds for Music, Photos, Pages users are following and more.
One of the new feeds, Photos, shows users all the photos from their friends and the Pages they're following. The new Photos feed also seamlessly integrates photos from Instagram and Facebook both. The Music feed shows what users' friends are listening to on streaming services like Spotify and Rdio in line with information upcoming gigs and on artists whose Pages they like. There are also feeds for Groups and Games.
What does it mean to consumers?
Facebook has delivered a more robust, rich and relevant offering for users.
The interface is less cluttered and more clean, putting users closer to the content that they want to see most.
Users also don't ever have to feel like they're missing out on anything - with all posts streaming chronologically, as well as Facebook putting a greater emphasis on providing users with an engine to discover new content.
Greater integration with third-party apps allow users to use Facebook as their true social hub, drawing in their content from other networks and apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Spotify in bigger ways than ever before.
What does it mean to marketers?
Page updates now appear to integrate seamlessly with updates from friends in a number of the new feeds.
For example, Brand photo updates should appear chronologically in the Photos Feed alongside users' friends' photos. Brand updates would function much the same in the Most Recent Feed and Following Feed.
We really like how the most popular items in users' Newsfeed blow up larger than life. This will surely drive further engagement with content that is starting to go viral.
We're still left with a few questions at this stage.
What has happened to Edgerank? Do Brand Pages really automatically reach 100% of their following? What happens to promoted posts?
How often users dip into their newfound feeds also remains to be seen - if users default to the All Friends setting, does it mean that brands need to encourage more Open Graph actions, such as check-ins, from their fans to appear organically? If they automatically live in the Newsfeed, will it be harder for brands to cut through friend updates and make an impression?
One thing that we're all agreed on is that a 100% consistent design between desktop and mobile experiences is a brilliant move for Facebook. More than 60% of Facebook users in the UK access their accounts from their mobiles. That number is only going to keep growing. A strong mobile presence is integral to the network's success in the future.
Like all Facebook updates, there's no confirmed live date. However, Facebook started a slow rolling, open beta at the launch event and promised new mobile apps 'within weeks'.
Bonny Parker is Community Management Director at Jam.