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March 25, 2013

Last week we laid out the major ways in which Facebook’s News Feed is going to change in the upcoming year. Today we’re going to examine what those changes mean for employers and brands in general and how Facebook recruiting, branding and marketing will need to adapt in order to stay effective.

I’ll try not to get too heavy on you, but these changes are serious for anyone using Facebook for business.

Of particular importance will be a major new emphasis on image-based stories and an increase in a user’s control over what they see in their feed.

Currently users have a rather limited ability to curate the content they view in their News Feed. They can hide specific posts, but not much more.

With Facebook’s recently announced updates, users will be able to filter content much more selectively. They will have the option to view updates from specific groups, such as “Friends” or “Close Friends”. Users will also be able to view content from their “Following” feed (brands whose Pages they have Liked), but some marketers are worried that users won’t choose this option.

Facebook has pitched these changes as a way to please users and that makes sense. The updates are in response to concerns that many users are finding their News Feed increasing cluttered. They complain that they are missing personalized content, such as a friend’s important status update, due to this clutter. But I would also suggest that another reason for the updates to Facebook’s News Feed is that it will make investing in Sponsored Stories, and paying for Facebook ads, a necessary step in increasing brand reach.

The other major change is the increased focus on image-based posts. With over 50% of the updated News Feed devoted to image-based content, brands would be wise to shift away from using text updates. Brands will also have to curtail how much text is embedded in images that are used for marketing (no more than 20% is allowed).

What this means for you:

  • Investing in Sponsored Stories and Facebook Ads will no longer be optional. Yes, I know, not having options isn’t fun. But really, even without these changes, I’ve always advocated investing in both of these tools. It’s inexpensive and a great way to learn more about your customer base.Silver Lining: Sponsored Stories and Facebook Ads will have a much larger visual presence, making them more impactful and engaging. Considering how easily users can tune out the small-scale content appearing on the right-hand side of their screens, having the News Feed center-stage is a pretty great thing.
  • Creating or purchasing eye-catching images will be a must. Again, this is something brands should already be doing. It is a bit of an investment, but social media is becoming more and more image-based and brands need to adapt, News Feed updates or not!Silver lining: It’s a kick in the pants to make you take your branding’s visual appeal more seriously! The updated images you use for Facebook campaigns can also be used to spruce up your company site.
  • Having varied media content is more important than ever, which is yet another argument for using video to boost employer brand! Sharing links that are accompanied by images will also be more important, so choose content to share from sites that include images with their posts.Silver lining: You have another awesome excuse to make an employer video! And hopefully blogs and online newspapers will make a greater point of including large, beautiful images with their articles.

All in all, the updates to Facebook’s News Feed are definitely going to affect how employers and brands reach Facebook users. Hopefully, the overall effect will be only a slight cost increase in exchange for greater impact and visibility. Sign up here to check out what Facebook will look like when all is said and done.

We’d love to know your thoughts, advice and concerns in the comments!

Happy Monday.