If you use Facebook on a regular basis, then you've probably noticed some subtle changes happening to the news feed in recent weeks. They haven't come out with any big announcements, but they have been quietly rolling out new features to try and make the feed more dynamic.
It always been the most important part of the site in terms of keeping users engaged, but Facebook is known for their ability to continuously re-invent themselves and their latest efforts are all the more impressive since the company's IPO is in a couple of weeks.
The other interesting thing to see is how the company is starting to introduce new revenue streams into the feed and how they're trying to shift the feed over to the 500 million mobile users that engage with the site every week as well. Here are all the changes that Facebook is making to the feed and forcing us all to start using.
There's a bunch of new social reading apps out there that use the Facebook platform and they are growing rapidly. Facebook really wants you to spend more time reading articles within the site and to help promote these apps, they've introduced promoted articles. To be honest, it is pretty rubbish at the moment as there are not enough apps or people using them to make the articles relevant. This feature will probably only get better over time though and could be a valuable source of curated content for us all.
We wrote about the initial success of Facebook offers yesterday and it's clear that it's going to be around for some time. You can expect brands and businesses to start flooding the site with offers once it's rolled out to a bigger audience. There has been much talk about social commerce over the last couple of years, but this is clearly the dawn of something really special and you can expect to see it in your news feed in the future.
This is probably the most controversial of all the additions as anybody who owns a page can now advertise directly into the news feed. These are premium ads and you will only see one per day, but the fact is that for the first time ever, ads are now appearing in the feed.
Because of the way that Facebook has opened up the platform, you are probably seeing more apps appearing in the news feed. Content like songs your friends are listening to, what films they're watching and what articles they're reading. This sort of content used to only appear when you implicitly choose to share it, but now it will appear automatically thanks to frictionless sharing.
There's always been videos in the news feed, but you used to choose to share them via Youtube and other video sharing websites. In the past couple of months, you will have noticed how video sharing apps have started to take over the news feed. As soon as a friend watches a video, it makes its way onto your feed automatically, meaning that videos are being spread virally.
What Does It Mean For You?
If you use Facebook for personal reasons, although the site is changing drastically, it is probably doing so for the better as it usually knows what's best for users. If you're a brand, you'll find that it's getting noticed is harder and you either need to have a really good app, or be able to buy advertising. The news feed used to be a simple place, but it's becoming dynamic as Facebook tries to find additional revenue streams while also improving the user experience.