One of the lesser noticed announcements at Facebooks annual F8 conference was a change to how your News Feed is going to look. What’s changing, and why should marketers pay attention?
New Look News Feed
At first glance, the change sounds like a minor technical change; the aspect ratio of ads on Facebook’s mobile app is being changed from 2:3 to 4:5. In practical terms, this means ads will be shorter, as shown here:
To stay on top of this, the first thing you will need to do is resize your video to 4:5 aspect ratio. Any videos taller than this (I.e. in the old 2:3 format) will be masked. Conveniently, Facebook’s Video Creator Kit has just had an upgrade. They now say videos can be resized with a single click.
The other important thing to notice is that you’ll only get 3 lines of text automatically showing in your post. If your text is longer than that, your followers will have to click “See More” to keep reading. This means you’ll have to deliver a killer Call-To-Action with fewer characters than you did before.
The good news is that you have until August 19th to get your content ready. So start planning now!
Good or bad for marketers?
As ever, there’s more than one level to unpack here. Facebook’s official literature says that the change will “simplify our formats and improve the consistency of our mobile experience.” This tallies with their planned merger between Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. A more consistent standard across platforms is good for content marketers, as it saves having multiple versions of every video taking up space wherever you store your files.
The need to be pithier and more succinct might sound frightening to marketers who are better at writing long-form pieces, but no need to panic! You can track how well your writing is going down. The “Post Clicks” metric on Facebook Insights includes clicks on the “See More” prompt. This means you can tell whether your 3 lines are doing enough to catch attention, or simply being scrolled past, regardless of whether your links are receiving clicks.
Overall, this move to more concise content means you will need to adapt your brand-building strategy. With less space to sell, you will need shorter messages, delivered more often. Use the data from your existing Facebook strategy to identify your hot topics and see how you can deliver nuggets of information on them effectively. For example, for a 1000-word blog, 4 key points in 4 posts will perform better in this new environment than posting the whole blog in one go.
The View from CommuniGator
On the whole we think this is a positive change. It makes ads less intrusive in the mobile environment (where 88% of Facebook use takes place). At the same time, it will make Calls-To-Action more prominent, giving leads less content to wade through and most likely improving conversion rates. The final benefit is that it will separate effective marketers from rubbish ones, by forcing messages to be delivered in concise language, stripped of waffle and jargon.