Facebook introduce News Feed Preferences Tool

Homepage of Facebook News Feed Preferences

Facebook have done a few subtle tweaks to their look and feel over the last few days. Firstly there was the ‘blink and you will miss it’ logo change to make the ‘a’ look more ‘friendly’.

Facebook logo before & after the update

Then there was the more significant, in terms of statement of equality if not visually, bringing the woman out of the man’s shadow in the friends icon.

Facebook friends icon before & after

Today they have announced a much bigger change which I think will have far more impact on the presence of brands on the platform. So far only available on the iOS app (and I haven’t had an update here in the UK yet), and coming soon to desktop and android, users can now prioritise the accounts that they see first in their news feed.

Users will be able to select up to 30 accounts whose newest updates they will see first. It can be from a combination of friends and pages. This is going to be really interesting for brands who are struggling to get reach for their posts. As users go into the ‘more’ section on the app and then ‘News Feed Preferences’, they may be reminded of some brand pages that they are following for the first time in a long time. The next question for me is, how do brands make sure that their followers prioritise them? For a start I would be thinking now about my content calendar for the next few weeks – so if users click into the pages again to decide whether to prioritise them, they see some good reasons why they should.  Another option could be for brands to do some promoted posts encouraging people to prioritise them in their feed. Users won’t see any changes to their feed unless they proactively go to the News Feed Preferences section of the app.

As a Facebook user I have always worried about the filter bubble effect e.g. by liking posts you are more likely to see future updates from that person but then what other stuff is that replacing in your timeline? At least this way the user gets some control back, even choosing who to follow and unfollow for updates.

The follow and unfollow screens in new News Feed Preferences

The other interesting addition to this Preferences area is a ‘Discover’ section where people can see recommended pages to follow based on the pages they currently like and pages liked by people with similar interests or behaviour.

Discover page in Facebook News Feed Preferences

Again this could be a great tool for brands, and is another reason that brands should really be focusing on the engagement their posts encourage. I would imagine that the more interaction you have with fans, the more likely you are to secure a place on that ‘Discover’ section.

So how do you get good engagement?  The exact answer to that depends on your brand and the messages you have to give but before you post anything you should ask yourself:

1) Would I share this?

2) Does this message benefit my consumer in some way? e.g. will it entertain them, make them laugh, tell them something they didn’t know?

3) Will this post add to the positive perception of my brand?

What do you think about the new developments to the News Feed? Let me know in the comments below.

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