Facebook has cemented its importance in the world, much like Google. Useful for both individuals and marketers, it exists as a technological marvel that’s become so engrained in our culture, it’s hard to imagine it ever disappearing.
But that doesn’t mean that Facebook isn’t willing or able to make critical advances to its platform. In fact, the social juggernaut is constantly making revisions, some substantial and some barely noticeable, in order to improve its user experience and make advertising more useful and affordable for businesses. It’s a great business model that allows them to continually make more money, appeal to more users, and make the users they already have happier.
What Facebook has in store for the distant future is anyone’s guess, but one of its most important developments in the next few years is going to be the setup and presentation of its newsfeed. Newsfeeds are arguably the most important element of Facebook, since it’s what most users rely on exclusively when visiting the site for news, updates, or information.
First, Facebook is starting to partner with more online publishers. In a relatively recent revelation that the majority of socially shared articles are found on Facebook more often than on their native publisher’s site, Facebook decided to take things a step further. Rather than hosting a link and a preview to an offsite article, which then sends a user to that site, Facebook will start hosting the full article within Facebook itself. Publishers would still be responsible for producing and placing the content, but the newsfeed would no longer send users offsite for the material. Facebook users on the mobile app would be able to read the entirety of the material within the newsfeed.
In order to please its growing network of advertising customers, Facebook has been fiddling with its ad offerings for years. For starters, general improvements to the ad system have allowed advertisers more freedom and flexibility in the targeting and planning of their campaigns, and improved metrics allow them to get a better feel for how their ads are performing. Quality scores were recently implemented to help marketers gauge how valuable their messaging is, and new multi-product ads make it easier than ever to show off multiple options with a possibility for direct purchases within the newsfeed.
While Facebook hasn’t announced any concrete plans for future development, it’s highly likely that the diversity of ads will only increase, and that ads will become even more tightly embedded into users’ news feeds.
Additionally, Facebook is allowing greater degrees of customizability for its user base. Shortly after Facebook evolved into its modern form, certain privacy controls were put into effect. Users could unfriend people easily, block users who they didn’t want to associate with, and even turn off notifications and news feed presence for people they want to remain in contact with but don’t want to listen to. Today, these options have expanded and are continuing to expand thanks to AI algorithms that custom-produce individual newsfeeds. Users can interact with posts, flag which ones they like and which ones they don’t like, and essentially “tell” Facebook what they do and do not want in their newsfeed.
This customizability element is sure to grow even further as Facebook’s technology grows more sophisticated and users grow more accustomed to the idea of having a newsfeed individually created for them.
Facebook has been integrating more interactive elements into the body of its newsfeed. Videos can be displayed and played automatically by a scrolling user. Gifs are now animated automatically. Different medium types are now accepted and can be easily viewed, and “buy” buttons are starting to show up on ads. It’s only a matter of time before a range of even more diverse functions are available to the average user.
In an effort to streamline the online user experience, Facebook has announced plans to integrate multiple other social apps into the body of its own messaging system. Rather than forcing users to switch between apps every time they want to talk to someone else using a different feature, Facebook is hosting a kind of “one size fits all” solution that aggregates many different platforms into one area. This feature has yet to fully roll out, but it will serve to radically alter the way people use communication apps to connect with others.
If you’re into content marketing or social media marketing, the changes Facebook is making are going to have a drastic impact on your existing strategies. New functions will be available, more tools will be at your disposal, and users will demand newer, more innovative online experiences in order to be satisfied.
The way I see it, Facebook has three major motivations with these (and future updates):
When you look at these motivations, all of Facebook’s emerging newsfeed updates make sense. They just want to keep their users as happy as possible, on the app for as long as possible, and keep their advertisers spending money. Motivations aside, these updates will likely improve the community, both as individuals and as marketers.