What Apartment Marketing Professionals Need to Know About Facebook News Feed Changes
Yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his team unveiled some major changes to the design and functionality of the News Feed. These changes include a greater emphasis on photos and visual content, giving users more control over the topics of stories they see, and making the Facebook experience seamless on mobile, tablet, and desktop devices.
At first glance, the changes appear to be a win-win for users who want more control over their Facebook homepage—I know I do. But when I sort through all the new features, I have to wonder how the redesign will affect apartment marketing professionals.
Let’s take a look at a few things that initially caught my attention and that I think could impact the way the multifamily industry markets apartments on Facebook.
You Should Place Even More Emphasis on Visual Content
The biggest update to the News Feed is the bigger images. As Facebook joked on stage, “They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and today’s feed is more like 500.”
Facebook also says that, “more visual stories in News Feed – from both people and Pages – increase user engagement. Now businesses have an even more visually rich way to showcase content and get people engaged.” They use a sushi restaurant as an example:
But here’s what’s really interesting about this emphasis on visual content: When you like a person or business, your friends will see a preview of that person or business’s timeline. When you share a story, that shared story now features a larger thumbnail than your avatar. Think about that. Your friends already know who you are–that’s not the engaging part. The engaging part is what you’re doing, saying, and sharing. (Source: Fast Company)
Marketing Takeaway: Review Your Cover Image and Profile Picture
With the new design, when a user likes your Page a large part of your cover image, along with your Page Profile Picture, goes into the News Feed of that person’s friends. So far, it looks like the lower half of your page cover image will be shown in the new News Feed. That means no wasted space on your images. Think carefully about the images you use. As of this writing, there is no word on whether the actual dimensions of cover images will change or remain the same. (Source: Mari Smith)
Your Facebook Content Must Include Location, Location, Location
Just like Graph Search will place high importance on location data, so will the new News Feed.
Currently, check-ins are signified with text and a boring link. Now, check-ins will add a map to a post, along with thumbnail of wherever is being visited. This extra data is exactly the kind of attractive information that might lure a user in to learn more about a restaurant, music venue, or maybe an apartment complex.
Marketing Takeaway: Location Data is Important
This really should go without saying, but make sure the address section of your apartment’s Facebook Page is complete and accurate.
Your Facebook Content Needs to be More Engaging
A rather significant new feature is “Choice of Feeds,” or the ability to toggle between different feeds of information by topics. The new topic-based News Feeds will give Facebook users much more control over the content they see, and users will be able to switch between different feeds using a switcher at the top of their homepage.
Notice the highlighted area allowing a user to select a feed called “Following.” That option will allow users to “discover more content from the Pages they like and the people they follow.” (Source: Facebook blog)
Hogwash. That’s nice of Facebook to say, but this feature worries me as a marketer. As a Facebook user, I’m going to love having more control over the content I consume. As a marketer, I’m worried about a user’s ability to further filter out my brand.
Until now, content from brands and publishers appeared in a user’s News Feed right alongside posts from friends and family. With the additional feeds, users have a quick way to focus on only what their friends are sharing (through the All Friends category), or even more specifically, on what their closest friends on the social network are sharing. Any user who chooses these options is effectively opting out of seeing content from publishers, businesses and influencers whose pages they follow, but who they are not in fact friends with. (Source: Mashable)
Marketing Takeaway: Rethink Your Posting Frequency
Since the Following Feed shows all stories from pages a user follows in chronological order, it might become even more important to publish content to your Facebook Page on a more regular basis. This way, users who check out their Following Feed will see your stories near the top of their feed more consistently. (Source: HubSpot)
What about Facebook Advertising?
Facebook didn’t offer too many details about advertising in yesterday’s presentation, but what little we do know is leaving marketers with mixed feelings at this point. Ad Age pointed out that ads would now have much greater visual competition and that the user base could be fragmented and harder to reach because of the sub Feeds.
However, Mashable points out that there is suddenly more real estate for in-stream ads. Facebook has expanded the size of the News Feed itself and shrunk the right and left rails surrounding the Feed. “Having a larger canvas to work with will be a real benefit to marketers,” said Debra Williamson, an analyst with eMarketer. “[Marketers] have always wanted more real estate and Facebook has always been more reticent to give them more play. By expanding the News Feed, that by default gives advertisers more room to play with as well.”
Additionally, a Facebook rep confirmed to Mashable in an email that Sponsored Posts will appear in-stream in the new News Feed just as they do in the current version, only “richer/bigger.”
I’m confident Zukerberg and his team will provide more information about this in the near future.
Will the Facebook News Feed Impact Your Apartment Marketing?
Between Graph Search and News Feed, I think marketers have some challenges in front of us. Since this will be a slow rollout we can do our homework and prepare our Page and adjust our content marketing strategies accordingly.
I highly recommend that you sign up for a chance to beta test the redesigned News Feed. You can sign up at http://www.facebook.com/newsfeed.
What do you think of the News Feed redesign? Do some of the new features make you rethink how you’ll market your apartment properties on Facebook?