It’s official – Facebook is 10 years old as of February 4! As someone who has used Facebook (personally) through all of high school and college, and now as a marketing professional, it’s super fascinating to reflect on how the site has evolved. This year, they celebrated their birthday by sending all users a link to a customized touching (or creepy) video of their time spent (or wasted) on Facebook – which any user can view here.
What Is Facebook Doing for Consumers?
As web marketers, it’s easy for us (me) to feel downright offended and pessimistic by Facebook’s ever-changing ways – cough, the auto-play video feature that launched at the end of 2013. But reflecting objectively has me mostly thinking otherwise. I’ll touch on three of the latest updates.
But first, I'll start by asking the question: What’s in a News Feed?
If you were previously feeling annoyed by the amount of pet photos and paragraphs-long ranting statuses in your news feed, you might have noticed more posts that are, oh, I don’t know, actually interesting to you! That’s because Facebook switched up its news feed algorithm to show users more high quality posts that should be relevant to them.
Next is the recommended articles feature, pictured here:
As a user engages with or clicks a link in their newsfeed, Facebook will display more relevant articles directly below the original post.
And finally, though it has taken a while to roll out, Facebook recently adopted one of Twitter’s most noteworthy functions – trending topics. To the right of the newsfeed, users will now see a list of current popular topics being discussed on Facebook. Clicking a topic will show you relevant posts from your friends and other public pages.
As someone who utilizes the site more frequently from a business perspective, this is a feature I am partial to – I tend to stick to Twitter for news and conversation. But for Facebook lovers, the implementation of trending topics is an excellent way to stay on top of pop culture and significant current events.
What is Facebook Doing for Marketers?
Because of the aforementioned tweaks to the site’s news feed algorithm, Facebook is now forcing us (businesses) to pay to play. While it’s really easy for me to complain that the awesome content I’m posting on my various business pages isn’t consistently reaching even 10% of my audience, I must reference the first half of this blog. Facebook is trying to create a more interesting, relevant experience for its users.
So as Facebook continues to emphasize the news in news feed – thereby lessening the exposure for small businesses and increasing that of media outlets – we’ll have to stick to what we know, and continue to monitor what’s working and what isn’t. We must also be sure to make use of 2013’s helpful ad platform updates, including:
- Free (!) stock photos to spruce up your ads
- The addition of ad objectives (goals, essentially)
- Streamlined reporting (see the direct results of your objective)
- Ad placement choice (news feed or right-hand column)
Happy Birthday, Facebook!
With billions of users and billions in revenue, it’s certainly undeniable that Facebook is simply ubiquitous – love it or hate it. Consider this: MySpace (remember Tom?) launched only a year before Facebook spread throughout the Harvard campus. So, in my opinion, Mark and the gang should totally be patting themselves on the back for not going that route, and staying relevant for so long.
It’ll be interesting to see what Facebook has in store for us during its teen years (video ads have been up for discussion). Do you have any predictions?