From Walls to Timelines, profile pictures to cover photos and friending to subscribing, Facebook (News - Alert) users have seen a number of changes over the past nine years. Tomorrow, they’ll see even more, as the social network is planning to make some changes to the news feed.
When Graph Search was announced in January, the news feed was identified as one of the three pillars of the Facebook ecosystem, which also includes Timeline (News - Alert). The news feed is a crucial part of these pillars – it is where the majority of users spend most of their time. Facebook uses the EdgeRank Algorithm to determine what each user sees on a news feed, which is personalized for each user, and there are two key factors for Facebook to consider: what to show and in what order. For companies, there is a lot of competition to reach fans and customers through posts, which is what sponsored ads and promoted posts aim to help out with.
Facebook is holding a press event tomorrow to announce updates for the news feed. Reports predict we could see multiple news feeds based on categories, such as Instagram photos and music feeds of what friends are listening to, concerts and new albums, larger photos and image-based ads. The feed dedicated to images uploaded to Facebook and Instagram will be the most pronounced integration of Instagram into Facebook since its acquisition.
Image via VentureBeat
Facebook introduced the news feed in 2006, and updated it with some new features in 2011, including a more customized feed based on your interests, doubling images in size and a real-time activity ticker.
The music feed has existed since 2011, but it is hidden deep in the Apps section of the sidebar. It includes songs friends are listening to and posts from artists and bands you like and/or follow. Facebook also already has a Pages-only feed that only shows updates from Pages you like. The rumor is these feeds will become more surfaced and attractive to users; providing a new design for the news feed that prominently offers the option to switch between different content-specific feeds. Two sources said that on the Web, buttons located at the top of the feed below the search box will let users switch to view one of the different feeds at a time.
The Future of Facebook
The social network is also testing a new Timeline redesign in New Zealand, which features a new look for the toolbar at the top of the screen, a new About widget below your profile picture, moves Timeline navigation to the top right of the page and features a Like button for a site when you share a link. Example:
There will also be a big emphasis on mobile in the upcoming year. As we continue to replace computers with laptops and laptops with smartphones and tablets, companies need to keep up with the momentum and ensure they are delivering a quality mobile experience. The number of active daily visitors checking their Facebook accounts on their mobile devices surpassed the number of users who log into Facebook on their computers for the first time in history of the social network – of the 1.06 billion active Facebook users, 618 million visit the site daily and 157 million are doing so from their phones.
TechCrunch’s Josh Constine reported earlier in January he got a first-hand look at the employee-only iOS app build of an evolved form of Facebook’s mobile news feed, which replaces the traditional blue and white design with full-screen photo tiles and overlaid text, similar to Flipboard, Google (News - Alert)+ for iPad and Microsoft Metro. It’s unclear if we’ll be seeing the mobile updates to the news feed tomorrow, but it is definitely in the works for sometime this year. Stay tuned for updates!