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Why the new Facebook News Feed matters to your business

Changes to Facebook's News Feed offer new opportunities for businesses with a Facebook presence.

Facebook is rolling out a revamped News Feed starting Thursday that changes the way users view shared content. If your business has a Facebook Page, here's how the updated layout can help you engage users in new ways.

Facebook appears to be following in the footsteps (or stepping on the toes) of the popular Flipboard app. At a media event Thursday announcing the new News Feed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg likened the updated layout to a "personalized newspaper." Facebook won't have the broad diversity of content that Flipboard offers, but the way the new layout segregates content will make it more inviting.

Think about a newspaper for a minute. (They do still sell them at corner stores and gas stations, or you can ask your parents.) A newspaper is laid out in sections. The front page has the most important news, but there are sections devoted to sports, entertainment, politics, and other categories. That's essentially what Facebook is trying to let users create.

The existing News Feed displays a mash-up of posts from friends alongside Facebook pages you've liked . Those posts include check-ins, photos, videos, and status updates in some arcane order determined by an algorithm. The updated News Feed, by contrast, separates  types of content, and lets users choose to view only photos, or only music, or only updates from businesses like yours--in other words, the pages they've liked.

What the new News Feed means for you

Facebook claims that the average user spends 22 minutes on the site each day. One of the primary goals of the new look is to entice people to stick around longer. With some billion Facebook members, your business has a significant opportunity to engage that audience.

At the press event, Zuckerberg also revealed that 50 percent of the content in the Facebook News Feed comprises photos and videos. Put simply, Facebook users like to view and share photos and videos, so focus on developing engaging, high-quality pictures and videos for your business.

Facebook has had much more success with mobile advertising than it has from desktop platforms, so it's no coincidence that the new layout, coming to mobile devices over future weeks, brings many elements from the mobile layout into the desktop browser. On top of providing a consistent look and feel for Facebook across platforms, the shift makes Facebook ads more prominent. If you choose to invest money to market on Facebook, the updated News Feed should help you get a greater return.

Don't end up in the Classifieds

There will be a section of the new News Feed dedicated to pages that users have liked. Borrowing the personalized newspaper analogy, that section will be the equivalent of the classifieds section.

It's fair to assume that the users who have liked your Facebook page are at least peripherally interested in your products and services. However, people spend time on the social network to be, well, social. They want to see what their friends and family are doing, read interesting news, be entertained, and view cool pictures and videos.

Their first thought won't be, "Hey, I wonder if that company I liked has anything new to say." It probably won't be their second or third thought, either.

Don't wait for users to find you in the equivalent of the classifieds. To stay in the game and engage with your community, take your business to them. How do you do that? Use lots of photos and videos to help you business show up in the sections of the new Facebook News Feed, such as Photos, that will have the most traffic.


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