FB's News Feed: Can brands really be friends?

Just as brands and consumers come to terms with Facebook's timeline and cover photo changes, the social media giant rolls out yet another change - this time to its News Feed.

The new News Feed, currently privy to a selected few but rolling out soon, is in line across the social media's mobile, tablet and web design. The change will see larger visuals and cleaner categorisation of content from friends, family and brands.

While the change seems to be a welcomed one, industry experts predict that going forward brands can expect stiffer competition for attention in the feeds that content is featured in.

For example, with the new feed, advertisers of mobile games can selectively place their ads in the "Games" feed where it is more relevant to the niche target audience. This would mean firm competition as rival brands will be targeting the same niche group.

"The feed filters give more control to the user, so brands will need to work harder for attention," Matthew Drury, head of digital, MEC interaction Singapore told Marketing.

Lead solutions specialist, Amanda Chng of Blugrapes agreed that with this development, it is important brands offer content relevant to fans as their posts will be sub-categorised.

However on a positive note, this would ultimately mean advertisers can more accurately select the placement of News Feed ads in time to come, added Chng.

Picture perfect

Last week Facebook in a press statement said: "We've completely rebuilt each story to be much more vibrant and colorful and highlight the content that your friends are sharing. Photos, news articles, maps and events all look brighter and more beautiful."

According to Drury, images now shared are crucial in telling a brand story.

"Images needn't be high cost high production value images either, as long as they fit the brand and the story it's telling," he said. Simply put brands need to get busy and create more content rather than "churn out ads".

Chng said the enlargement of photos in the news feed have already been proven effective to generate more clicks and interactions.

Strategically, she urged brands to explore the best times to post content to optimise the reach whilst find a way to generate enough user content to get into the 'All Friends' feed as it is "likely to be the largest detractor to brand content on Facebook."

The All Friends feed shows only posts from friends and none from brands.

"This may take away a significant volume of attention from the main news feed, which could negatively impact the reach and delivery of posts as well as ads on the news feed," she said.