Facebook looks to mobile with newsfeed update

Facebook has updated its newsfeed yet again, this time to improve mobile use

Reuters Nicole Kobie
8 Mar 2013

Facebook has updated its newsfeed with a new look and focus on photos, designed to make it a user's "pesonalised newspaper".

The changes to the newsfeed, whose look and feel had remained largely unchanged since Facebook's inception, include a division into several sections, with separate areas for photographs and music.

The newsfeed is the ever-changing stream of photos, videos and comments uploaded from friends, and is the first page most users see upon logging in.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the makeover was part of an effort to position the social network as a "personalised newspaper," complete with different sections for users to explore. The alterations standardise the network's look across different types of desktop and mobile devices.

The makeover comes roughly a month after Facebook introduced a new social search feature it dubbed "Graph Search", which makes it easier for the social network's more than one billion users to discover greater content on the social network.

The update brings in four additional newsfeeds: all friends, showing items your friends are sharing in chronological order; music, showing songs being listened to and posts from bands; photos, integrating Instagram and other photo services; and following, to highlight posts of pages you follow.

"The basic idea is sometimes you want five minutes and you want to see the top stuff; sometimes you want to spend an hour and go through a lot of different stuff," Facebook's vice president of product, Chris Cox, said in an interview after the event.

Facebook newsfeed

The additional feeds could also provide Facebook with greater space to offer ads, although a spokeswoman said the additional newsfeeds wouldn't initially feature them.

"The newsfeed was kind of outdated. This sort of brings it up to maybe what's comparable to...their competition, and partner sites that are focusing on media and richness," said Brian Blau, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner, about the revamped newsfeed.

The changes will begin rolling out over the coming weeks, Facebook said, heading to iPhone and iPad versions and then Android soon after. Users who want to get the newsfeed first can be added to the waiting list here.

Bigger ads, better return

Marketers will be able to fashion more compelling ads thanks to the increased real-estate for photos, said Hussein Fazal, the chief executive of AdParlor, a firm that helps companies advertise on Facebook. "Larger images will result in higher clickthrough rates, a higher level of engagement and better performance," Fazal wrote in an email.

Still, analysts say the company needs to tread carefully to avoid inundating users' various feeds with advertising, as Facebook tries to sustain the rapid pace of growth that helped it debut on public markets at the highest-ever valuation for a technology company. The makeover is partly prompted by complaints about increasing clutter on Facebook's network.

As the social network has grown to more than one billion users, the amount of content that users and companies post to its website has surged. Facebook users only see a small portion of that content; much of it is culled by Facebook's proprietary algorithm.

Facebook's Cox acknowledged that as Facebook has grown in size, there has been "more pressure on the system" to feature various content.

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