True to expectations, Facebook unveiled changes to its drawing card. Its latest attempt to address complaints from users who think the social network has turned into a flat pile of online content, with random photos cluttered all over the website.
In an announcement and a succeeding blog post on Thursday, Facebook uncovered new controls to organize into sections the streams of photos and content on its News Feed.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he is optimistic that this will turn News Feed into a newspaper-like environment with customized interests for each of social networks more than one billion users worldwide.
The redesigned News Feed creates more space to show bigger and more dynamic advertisements, even though Zuckerberg did not mention anything on the topic. Facebook still seeks for different ways to rake in revenue and increase its stock price.
Facebook wants to ensure that its users see all stories in one page, so it introduced new feeds on top of the main News Feed.
1. All Friends – a feed that shows all posts shared by friends
2. Photos – a feed of photos from friends and liked Pages
3. Music – a feed with posts about favorite songs
4. Following – a feed of news from liked Pages and subscribed people
The new News Feed design basically allows Facebook to offer the same look and feel across multiple platforms on mobile, tablet and web. For example, the left-hand menu is easily accessible anywhere on Facebook. Apart from that, users can jump to the top of News Feed whenever new stories arrive.
To learn more about the thinkers behind the new look of Facebook, see this video.
This is not the first time Facebook changed its News Feed, but previous redesigns have sparked protests from its users. Now the company hopes to lessen complaints as it rolls out the changes in stages.
Facebook said the new News Feed is now available to some users, but it will likely take six months to one year before everyone sees it.
The makeover will likely shock users who visit Facebook only on a desktop or laptop computer. It comes with features already found in the mobile app versions for smartphones and tablets.
The News Feed facelift boasts a new control that allows users to filter streams of content. For example, a user can sort a stream that contains only the photos or posts from close friends, relatives, or favorite brands.
Another control allows a user to study content about music or sports as if reading a section from today’s or yesterday’s newspaper.
Other newspaper-like features include lists of events that a user’s social circles have marked to attend for the coming weekend, and other brief statements to look like a table of contents.
Facebook’s new personal touches proves that the company knows how its computer-generated formulas are amiss. That its current algorithm to check contents shown to users are less effective or not functioning properly, as social circles inside the network discuss a wide range of unsorted topics and share information about it.
Despite the complaints, Facebook still plans to use algorithms to choose materials featured on the News Feed. This is similar to a newspaper editor who picks the content worthy of the front page.
In his talk about the revamped News Feed at Facebook’s HQ in Menlo Park Zuckerberg said this gives users the ability to focus on topics they mostly care about.
The redesigned front page and other sections will offer more space exclusive to photos and videos. Facebook has realized how important and dominant visual elements are on mobile devices so it wants to apply a similar approach to desktop computers. New smartphones are now equipped with high-quality and high-definition cameras so it’s easier to share photos and video clips.
Zuckerberg said 50 percent of News Feed posts now have a photo or video. This is a 100 percent increase from the 25 percent in late 2011.
Larger photos give marketers and advertising agencies a bigger canvass to create ad banners. Facebook hopes these firms will grab the opportunity to be creative and lure more consumers. If the campaign is successful, advertisements will be more worthy of acceptance on Facebook.
Above all, the changes to News Feed are meant to make Facebook a dynamically engaging social network for its users. Because if it stops evolving and adding new features, it risks of losing traction and become the next MySpace or Friendster.
Facebook remains a top destination on the Internet, but there are now signs of the social network losing its flair for young audiences.
Reports say that teenagers now spend more time outside of Facebook. That the younger generation now use and visit other social service providers, such as Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, a photo-sharing site that Facebook bought for $1 billion last summer.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project recently released a new study to highlight a new phenomenon called “Facebook Vacation.” It found that 61 percent of adult Facebook users had taken time off the social network willingly for different reasons. Some took a hiatus from Facebook due to loss of interest, boredom, spam, security concerns, ads, and irrelevant information.
Surveys by the nonpartisan Pew Research Institute are reliable and robust. Even Facebook will find that the study shows a troubling trend because the social network must make sure its members keep returning. Without regular site visits from its users, Facebook ads will sell less – a scenario that the company wants to avoid if it wants to earn more revenue.
In recent years Facebook has scrambled to look for the perfect mix between happy users and content investors.
Since last year’s initial public offering (IPO) of more than $104 billion, Facebook has seen its stock price drop steeply. Only now has it finally gained traction and seem stable.
According to Bloomberg data gathered earlier this year, analysts on average see more losses for Facebook in 2013. Estimates of a 35 percent increase in stock price last year has dropped to an estimated 30 percent, or $6.53 billion, this year.
Sales of digital items rose to 88 percent in 2011, but sales for online goods on games dropped in the third quarter of last year.
In Facebook’s third quarter earnings call last year, Zuckerberg said the company still plans to release new paid products. At the time, he asked each product group head to build ideas on how to generate revenue.
Zuckerberg said in Facebook’s IPO regulatory filing that monetization will not be the company’s top priority. He wrote that they will not build services to earn, but make money to improve services. The filing read that Facebook is a social network before a company.
Still, Facebook showed how quick it can release successful products and new features. Shares are back to its former healthier condition, with a 60 percent increase after growth in mobile ads since it slid down to $17.55 in September last year.
Last year, Facebook took advantage of the proliferation of mobile device sales and rolled out its tools on the platform.
Now the people in Wall Street seem to believe the revamped News Feed is a step in the right direction, as Facebook’s stock price rose $1.13 to close Thursday at $28.58. However, the shares remain 25 percent below the $38 stock during the IPO in May last year.
The new mobile-friendly version of News Feed highlights Facebook’s ramped up efforts on mobile devices. As the number of consumers who buy smartphones and tablets increases, Facebook will continue to focus on those devices in future projects.