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What the Facebook News Feed redesign means for marketers

Facebook this morning announced a major update to News Feed, aimed at making the popular service richer, simpler, and more beautiful.

The ultimate goal of Facebook News Feed, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is to deliver “the best personalized newspaper” to every user.
That means providing a “broad diversity of content,” including high-quality public content from businesses and public figures as well as posts from friends and family. While being broad, News Feed should also allow users to drill down on specific topics that interest them.
Here are a few tips to consider when incorporating the new Facebook News Feed into your existing social sales and marketing strategy:

1. Share rich and visual content

In November 2011, according to Zuckerberg, photos accounted for 25% of News Feed stories. In January 2013, photos accounted for almost half of all stories. Additionally, posts from business pages, not friends, has increased from 15% of the News Feed to nearly 30%.

This data demonstrates that, more than ever, businesses like yours have an extraordinary opportunity to engage with customers and prospects on social media. In order to capitalize on this opportunity, brands and businesses must share rich and visual content on Facebook.
The previous version of News Feed only allotted 40% of screen real estate to the main content, including your Page posts. This allotment, says Facebook Director of Design Julie Zhou, has been greatly expanded, meaning the impact of photos and other visual content will likewise be widened. For businesses that run ads on Facebook, like Sponsored Stories, it’s essential that these also be made “richer and more immersive” to compete with other visual content in the stream.

2. Provide value to fans

While Facebook constantly tweaks its algorithms to make News Feed as relevant and personal to each user as possible, this is sometimes difficult with content coming from such a disparate group of sources. As a result, explained Facebook engineer Chris Struhar, users now have the option of choosing between the overall News Feed, an “All Friends” feed, and a “Following” feed, which only shows posts from businesses and brands.
This update will be welcomed by users, but it shouldn’t change much for businesses on Facebook. As long as you remain dedicated to providing value to fans, not in the form of self-promotional content but instead with relevant posts and photos, you will still surface in feeds and stay top of mind with your customers.

3. Share content that will work on any device

Rather than try to make Facebook for iPhone and other mobile devices look like Facebook on the Web, the Facebook design team has instead opted to port their mobile designs over to desktop. Ultimately, this will result in a more consistent Facebook experience across mobile devices, tablets, and the Web.

The value of this to businesses is that “they can think about how assets will look across different screens,” according to Facebook VP of Product Chris Cox.
Previously, marketers would have to jump through hoops trying to figure out how certain posts will appear to users on the Web versus users on mobile. Since this will no longer be the case, you can start planning your social media posts more holistically for sharing across Web and mobile.
As expected, the updated News Feed will roll out to users slowly, as Facebook collects feedback and works out kinks. Once they have a more polished version, the redesign will roll out more broadly.
Anyone curious to test out the redesign can join the waitlist here.

How to make your Facebook Business Page more engaging

Every day, more and more organizations across several different industries are encouraging and even requiring their employees to engage with customers via social media. For non-marketers, starting a Facebook Business Page and connecting with your customers on social media can at first seem daunting.
As part of the Hearsay Social Customer Success team, I work full-time on coaching corporate teams to help their employees achieve higher conversions and brand loyalty through social media. When new users start going social, they often ask, “How do I get more ‘likes’ to my Facebook Business Page?” While likes are great for increasing your reach and the number of people able to see your content, the real million dollar question you want to ask is, “How do I get more engagement on my Facebook Business Page?” Likes are not as powerful if those fans are not liking, posting comments, and sharing your content with others.
Here are my top five suggestions for making your Facebook Business Page more engaging:

1. The social media rule of thirds

If your foot doctor had a Facebook business page (and they probably do), would you want him/her to publish Facebook posts about foot fungus and cracked heels every day? Probably not. It’s not fun to hear and it’s not relevant to your everyday interests. This is a pretty extreme example, but we can apply this same logic to insurance agents, real estate agents, car dealers and more. When deciding on what to post to Facebook day in and day out, keep your business talk in check by following the social media rule of thirds:

  • One third of the time, post about your business or brand. This includes your own blog posts and press releases, announcements about your upcoming events and speaking engagements, and other similarly self-promotional content.
  • One third of the time, post about topics or info directly related to your business, but using material from a third-party source. This includes news items from your favorite publications, graphs of analyst data visualizations, and other outside materials.
  • One third of the time, just show off your personality. This includes posting photos of the team hard at work (or at play!), friendly well wishes over holidays, and anything else that reminds your fans that behind the logo are real people.

2. Photos Please!

In case you aren’t familiar with EdgeRank, it’s Facebook’s algorithm that determines who sees what. Basically it determines what social media content, like posts, photos, and videos, you will see in your Facebook News Feed.
There are three criteria that make up EdgeRank: affinity, weight and recency. The part that most significantly impacts content engagement is the weight which corresponds to the type of post selected by the user. Some content types are considered more important than others and will have a higher probability of showing up in your fans’ News Feeds.
Here is the order of weight in EdgeRank:

a. Photos
b. Videos
c. Web Links
d. Messages (just text)

Make sure many of your posts have a picture or a video to secure a higher probably of having the post land in your fans’ Facebook News Feeds. The more frequently your photos appear there, the higher the chance that they will comment on it. In addition, photos are the most engaging type of content, which is why it is weighted higher in Facebook’s algorithm.

3. Short and Sweet

One of the many factors that has made Twitter successful is their 140 character limit. It forces people to be succinct. Even when posting on Facebook, where there is virtually no character limit, you should still write brief messages to be the most effective. Your fans want to quickly scan their News Feed to see what’s happening in the lives of their fans and friends. Make it easy on your fans by keeping your messages to less than 2-3 sentences (and remember that photo!). If they can read and understand your point quickly, they will have be more motivated to like and comment on your post.

4. Ask Questions

If you want engagement, why not ask them to engage? The easiest way to do that is to ask a simple question. When people know the answer or have an opinion, they feel the need to share. Example questions:

  • I’m planning my next vacation. What do you recommend?
  • I can’t believe it’s my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary! What’s the best restaurant for a group dinner?
  • What’s your life motto?

5. Schedule Posts for the Weekend

Believe it or not, Americans are not always outside playing in the yard on the weekends (and if they are, they have their mobile devices with them). Even on weekends and holidays, lots of people are checking their Facebook feeds and engaging with content there. In fact, businesses get 32% more consumer engagement on the weekends than on weekdays, according to Socialfresh. By the way, vacation isn’t an excuse for not posting on the weekends. Just login to Hearsay Social and schedule your posts in advance.
Hopefully you found these tips useful and can apply them next time you post from Facebook or Hearsay Social!

Facebook Pages Brand Timeline: What it is and what it means for your business


Note: The following is an introduction to our how-to guide for the Facebook Page Brand Timeline Redesign, a free resource featuring everything you need to know about the new social marketing tools.
Facebook, the most popular social network in the world with nearly one billion users, announced at the first-ever Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC) that it would be transitioning brand pages to a new format based on timeline, allowing businesses to tell their story and connect with customers better than ever before.
True to Facebook’s mission to help people around the world “tell their life story” in a visually rich way, timeline launched for individual users last December. As part of this launch, a new generation of social apps like Spotify and Netflix allow users to seamlessly share their favorite tunes and films with each other in real-time. Additionally, stories appear side by side in the timeline to convey a more cohesive story. Lastly, but certainly not least, Facebook reserves the wide, open space at the top of the page for a unique cover image or backdrop of your choosing, perfect for self-expression.
Facebook has now brought many of those same exciting elements to Facebook Pages.
Social media marketers should be delighted by the changes. After all, what are businesses but large groups of people with stories of their own? From the founding year to its first sale to other major milestones, organizations large and small have interesting stories to tell. And Facebook Pages will finally allow businesses to tell those stories in a compelling way.
Adjusting to a new look and feel can sometimes be confusing, but brands and businesses will find that timeline is a winning interface for interacting with fans. With timeline, marketing on Facebook is about building engagement more than ever before. It’s not about the hard sell; rather, it’s about creating original content and telling interesting stories, which more often than not occur at the local level.
Long before social networks, local representatives, agents, advisors, or franchisees connected with customers on the ground, in cities all around the world. Trust those local workers to be your best brand ambassadors. Cookie cutter messages don’t work anymore because social networkers see right through bland corporate messaging.
That’s why it’s more important than ever for corporate brands to go local on social media. And, supported by Hearsay Social for Facebook Pages Brand Timeline, social marketers can do that with ease.

Now that you’ve read the introduction, read the full how-to guide for the Facebook Page Brand Timeline Redesign. Learn about the new rules for cover photos, how you should transition from the wall to the timeline, and other digestible tips for creating the best possible business page on Facebook.