Yesterday, Facebook announced changes to the News Feed that will show related articles, posts with recent comments, and better quality news and articles. While the related articles piece and comment highlighting may have garnered the most attention in the update, they weren’t the most important change.
The biggest element of the announcement for marketers is the fact that Facebook will now be putting “More relevant articles in the feed.” This means that Facebook users will see more, well, news in their News Feed and fewer images and memes. This comes as a complete 180 to much of the image marketing posts that were highly touted just last year.
This Has Been In The Works For Awhile Now
In case you haven’t been following Facebook’s changes that closely, a big change came 3.5 months ago when they added more prominence to the way that Link posts were displayed in the News Feed. The change was a significant one that helped to put link posts on par visually with image posts.
Before the September update (since the launch of Timeline), image posts had a much greater display size when displaying in the News Feed. This led to an influx of image marketing by Page Admins that wanted more real estate and visibility in the Feed; they would simply show an image with the link in the description.
The image with linked description was clearly poor form and something that Facebook needed to fix. Instead of actually showing the structured signal (link to article of importance) the signal was an images with the article shoehorned in via the description. Earlier this year we highlighted the importance of image optimization for link posts and how Facebook has gradually been allocating more and more space for Link posts. Well, in September, Link Posts hit the tipping point as they took up equal space to Image Posts.
Yesterday Facebook officially pushed link posts beyond tipping point and into the “best practice” realm.
If You Haven’t Changed Your Ways Yet, It’s Time To Start
Many marketers took heed and made the switch from Image-based posting to Link Posting when the link change in September occurred. If you haven’t made the switch from properly using link posts for articles, here are some reasons why to start:
- Facebook Has Been “All-In” On Becoming A News Source A recent study showed that 1-in-3 Americans now use Facebook for a News Source. This is a big boon for Facebook, as they have not only become the go-to source for friend-to-friend updates, but also for providing accurate, custom news. In yesterday’s release Facebook proudly stated that referral traffic from Facebook to media sites has increase of 170% over the past year. Facebook wants to be the source for informative, pertinent news that users don’t need to sift through. Link posts are a quantifiable, structured format that will help Facebook continue to own this space, Image posts are not. An additional benefit of link posts is that a “more from” box with related articles from the site in question and related sites will now be showing.
- This Will Be Occurring Even More For Mobile Users In the release Facebook states the following: “we’re now paying closer attention to what makes for high quality content, and how often articles are clicked on from News Feed on mobile. What this means is that you may start to notice links to articles a little more often (particularly on mobile).” As you may remember from the most recent earnings call, Facebook’s mobile user base jumped 45%year-over-year. As mobile growth continues, optimizing articles for mobile devices will only behoove marketers.
- Facebook Blatantly States That Less Images & More High Quality Articles Will Be Shown
The final reason why you should use Link Posts for all articles isn’t scientific, it’s because Facebook implicitly states it. The quote from Facebook is:
“ This means that high quality articles you or others read may show up a bit more prominently in your News Feed, and meme photos may show up a bit less prominently.”
Ladies and Gentleman, Link Posts and News/Articles are here to stay on the Feed. There are still valid reasons to share images (when image sharing is the goal) but you’ll miss out on the new attributes that the News Feed change offers.
Marketers Can No Longer Simply Push Links
One last takeaway is that if you are only providing a simple story share on Facebook, you are not doing your due diligence as a marketer. With Link Posts and the ability to see comments, shares and clicks, getting users engaged is now essential. Adding context around your article links that can entice users to take an action is critical. Examples provided showed The Atlantic pulling quotes and creating mini-articles to surround the baked-in title/description:
Facebook admins should now entice clicks/comments/shares by framing links with additional content now more than ever.
Is This A Good Thing For Users?
On the surface, I think this News & Link focus will be beneficial for users as long as it doesn’t overtake and water-down the person-to-person updates. While Grumpy Cat, Scumbag Steve and someecards give users a laugh, providing custom tailored news provides value. It should also be noted that Facebook is in a unique position where they can provide custom-tailored news in a way that no other source can at this moment.
With these changes expect to see more people across the globe looking to Facebook as a source of quality content and news, and look for Marketers & Brands to continue pushing ad dollars that direction as long as users stay engaged.