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Facebook updates the News Feed: Everything you need to know

Friday, 8 March 2013 | By Patrick Stafford

The latest updates to Facebook’s News Feed are not only crucial progress from the company as it faces more competitors, but a call to action for SMEs, experts warn.

 

With more emphasis on photographs and the ability for users to divide their News Feeds into separate categories, social media experts are now saying combining your updates with larger, high quality photographs is more important than ever.

 

The change – which incorporates elements from other networks such as Google+ – is also set to possibly make Facebook advertising more appealing.

 

“The majority of people using Facebook are on mobile devices and so visual is definitely the key,” warns CP Communications head Catriona Pollard.

 

“And that goes for personal pages and company pages as well. Status updates which have images or that are visually appealing tend to get shared more than ones which don’t have images.”

 

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage last night to announce one of the biggest updates to the Facebook News Feed in its history.

 

The announcement is significant – the News Feed is the heart of the Facebook product. This is not only where users see updates on posts, comments and their friends’ activity, but it’s also where company status updates are posted.

 

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More importantly, the News Feed is a space advertisers value most.

 

“What we’re trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalised newspaper,” Zuckerberg said. He’s referring to the ability to now separate News Feeds based on content.

 

Users can now switch between feeds for photographs, music, links, and friends’ activity. You can also read a specific News Feed just for updates from companies you’ve “liked”, which means every post a business makes now has to stand out even more.

 

Zuckerberg was very clear to draw a line between the types of posts shared by our friends, and from publications. Users can even make more lists of their own.

 

The update will be brought to mobile as well, so users will be able to view categories of News Feed updates on the go.

 

But the biggest update businesses need to worry about is pictures. Now, posts which feature pictures are given more prominence on the News Feed by increasing in size. Pictures were already the premium way to share content, ad users are more likely to share a visual than text-based message, but now, experts say, it’s even more important.

 

“The posts that are the ones which get the most reads and most clicks are those that have an image which relate to the story, and have some content that relates to what the article is about,” Pollard says.

 

When publications and businesses post a photo, the text is no longer posted separately. Now, the text is put on top of the photo, which makes snappy, more interesting captions all the more relevant.

 

The update is big news for advertisers, whose ads will be much bigger on the News Feed. With Facebook struggling to increase its mobile revenue, this may be a way of clawing more cash from the smartphone format.

 

The takeaway here for SMEs is how they can make their content more engaging. If businesses are already updating fans with rich, creative content, they shouldn’t stop, but simply try to find ways to marriage that content with high-quality images.

 

And if businesses are thinking of advertising, now’s the time to jump in. Bigger images may make the ads more effective.

 

“Ultimately, it’s all about the advertisers,” says Pollard. “The visual stuff is good for the users, but ultimately, the question for Facebook is how it can make that content more engaging.”

 

This story first appeared on SmartCompany.