What the New Facebook Layout Means for Social Media Marketing

Lance Concannon Lance Concannon, Marketing Director, Europe

Facebook is making some dramatic changes to its layout. Many users are seeing the message “Welcome to a fresh, simpler Facebook.” The new Facebook layout isn’t yet available for everyone but Facebook began rolling it out in early September. It’s actually a new desktop layout so it doesn’t affect mobile users. Nevertheless, many people still access social media from their computers at least some of the time. It’s worth considering how these changes will affect the experience for your followers and customers.

An Introduction to the New Facebook Look
As the welcome message suggests, the new layout provides a simpler, more toned-down look. All of the features are on the left side of the screen or above. To the left is Home, under which you’ll find Friends, Events, Memories, Saved, Pages, Jobs, and a tab for See More.

At the top of the screen are a series of icons for Home, Notifications, Watch, Profile, Marketplace, Groups, and Messenger. Users may notice that the new Facebook layout resembles Twitter. While rearranging elements and appearance may not seem like a major change, it does change the experience for users. This, in turn, will undoubtedly have some effect on how people interact with the platform.

The new layout, of course, doesn’t add or take away any features. However, it does give people a very different experience when they log onto the site. This should be enough to perk the interest of business owners and social media marketers. There are several features, in particular, that have a different and more noticeable appearance with the new layout.

Stories
Facebook Stories, along with the same feature on Facebook’s sister site Instagram, have become an increasingly popular feature. As it’s been getting more difficult to get newsfeed posts seen, Stories became a way to stay visible in followers’ timelines.

The new layout also makes Stories even more prominent, with images enclosed in large rectangles displayed directly above the newsfeed. When you click on a Story, you see a list of all your Stories on the left. Each Story practically screams out “Look at me!” Unlike ads, which similarly scream out to be noticed, Stories originate from followers. They’re also short-lived content, giving them urgency.

The obvious lesson from this is to create more Stories. If you haven’t used Stories to connect with your followers, now is the ideal time to start. Another point to keep in mind is that people will take notice of the image that identifies your Story. While Stories are meant to be a friendly and informal way to connect, you should still pay attention to how everything looks. Try setting your Stories in eye-catching locations. Play with filters and effects to make your Story stand out from the others.

Groups
While groups have long been an important feature on Facebook, they haven’t always been easy for users to access. It’s easy to join groups and lose track of them. Long-term Facebook members may belong to dozens or even hundreds of groups. If groups aren’t very busy, activity may be hidden from members. Facebook usually displays activity from those groups in which users are most active. If you belong to 25 groups, only a handful may be visible on your screen without you actively searching for them. Under the new layout, it’s a little easier to find all your groups.

For one thing, the Groups icon at the top of the screen may remind users to check out group activity. When someone clicks on the icon, Recent Activity appears at the top of the page. This may be a group you recently joined or a conversation where you commented. Seeing this content is likely to motivate users to get back into discussions. When you click on Groups you see a menu on the left that lists your groups. You can scroll down the page and see all the groups that you’ve joined. This may not seem like a big deal but it’s actually an improvement over the old system. Previously, it was quite difficult to find groups where you haven’t been active recently.

For businesses and social media marketers, it’s a good time to start a new group or resume activity in any slow or dormant groups. Whether it’s your group or merely one you joined, you might try to rouse members’ interests. The new layout is designed to remind members to pay attention to their groups.

Messenger
Facebook Messenger is another key feature that the new layout is highlighting even more. Most Facebook users spend at least some time on Messenger. However, as with Groups, the new arrangement of icons may remind people that they can send messages at any time. Notifications for messages are also a little easier to see now and less likely to be overlooked.

There are a few ways to use Messenger for marketing that many businesses haven’t tried or may not even know about. For example, you can place a chat widget on your website that lets visitors send messages to you on Facebook. This can be a good way to turn your website visitors into Facebook contacts.

Another option is to invest in Messenger Ads, a type of ad where people respond to the ad by sending a message rather than clicking on a conventional link. As with chat widgets, Messenger Ads help you grow your list of Facebook contacts.

The Effects of the New Layout
Only time will tell how popular the new Facebook layout will be or even how long it will last. As it unrolls, however, it will surely have an impact on user behavior. The new layout isn’t a reason to completely overhaul your social media strategy. For one thing, it’s only relevant for desktop users. However, any significant change will have some impact on how people interact with a platform. The above tips are in fact helpful, independent of the new layout. However, as Groups, Stories, and Messenger are now more prominent than ever, it’s the perfect time to rethink the way you use these features.