Facebook Will Be Changing Tomorrow, Here’s What You Can Expect
OK SO WHAT’S UP?
Tomorrow, Facebook will introduce a new design for the news feed that prominently offers the option to switch between different content-specific feeds. Two sources said that on the web, buttons located at the top of the feed below the search box will let users switch to view one of the different feeds at a time. It’s unclear if Facebook will use the same design in the mobile feed. I think it’s more likely to prominently place the options to switch between the feed in the navigation sidebar if it doesn’t overhaul the mobile feed’s design entirely.
One of the dedicated feeds will be a Photos feed of images uploaded to Facebook and Instagram. This will make the most pronounced integration of Instagram into Facebook since its acquisition. Photos have long been its most popular content type, but one that’s been underutilized without a dedicated feed, so this could be a huge win for Facebook. Instagram showed the power of photos alone, and the new Facebook Photos feed could get people browsing for hours. There will likely be an option to browse this feed full-screen, as if it were one big album. Several sources say a Music feed will also be featured. It will show what friends have been listening to on services like Spotify, and Rdio, as well as upcoming nearby concerts, recently released albums, posts by musicians that users Like, and suggestions of musicians to subscribe to. As I noted above, Facebook already has a Music feed, but its bookmark is buried deep in the Apps section of the homepage sidebar. Facebook is known to have hired contractors to build designs of the music feed for web and mobile, and now it looks like the revamped version will launch.
Other potential feeds that could launch include Links or “news,” Videos, and Apps, but sources were unable to confirm these.
Lastly, Facebook will also start displaying image and link posts in a larger format, whether they’re from users or Pages or are ads. This will be especially helpful for the Photos feed, as it means even when not browsed full-screen it will have a rich feel. Ads will become more vivid and noticeable, too. The format change should coax more marketing spend out of luxury brands that are accustomed to larger, glossy-style ads.
Overall, the launch event should be a big win for both Facebook and its users. We’ll have more control over what content we see and gain new ways to interact with what our friends share. Discovery of specific types of media will improve, and time on site is likely to increase. Advertisers and investors will likely rejoice. How Facebook will roll out the changes isn’t yet clear, but I’d suspect a somewhat staggered launch to prevent shock and the typical “new-is-bad” chatter from snowballing in the feed.
ZUCK SAID THE FEED WILL GET A RICHER DESIGN
CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself said the news feed needs to evolve to be more vivid. Smartphones and fast connections make it much easier to share media than when the feed first launched. As Business Insider mentioned last week, Zuckerberg said on the Q4 earnings call that:
“As our news feed design evolves to show richer kinds of stories, that opens up new opportunities to offer different kinds of ads as well…One of the product design principles that we’ve always had is we want the organic content to be of the same basic types of formats as paid content, right? So, historically, advertisers want really rich things like big pictures or videos and we haven’t provided those things historically. But, one of the things that we’ve done in the last year is you’ve seen the organic news feed product that consumers use moving towards bigger pictures, richer media and I think you’ll continue to see it go in that direction. And, I think that a lot of the success of products like Instagram is because of that. It’s a very immersive – even on a small screen, just – it’s a wonderful photo product.”
The key word in Zuckerberg’s comment is “immersive.” Facebook’s web and mobile feeds are full of chrome. There are always-visible navigation bars on the top of both web and mobile, as well as sidebars galore on the web. Facebook tried to give the news feed a more real-time feel last year with Ticker, but a lot of people hate it, ignore it, or take advantage of Facebook’s kind option to minimize it.
By taking the navigation chrome, sidebars, and Ticker and trimming them down, hiding them while we browse, or cutting them entirely, Facebook could free up a ton of space. It could use that to expand the width and height of the feed so it could show more stories and bigger images. This would keep us focused on the beautiful content shared by our friends, reduce exhaustion, and keep us scrolling.