The curtains have officially closed on another SXSW. As always, the event was chock full of inspiring keynotes, thought provoking panels, Twitter chatter and, yes, device charging woes aplenty. The Taylor Digital team was onsite at SXSW Interactive attending panels, absorbing keynotes and walking the tradeshow floor. Though many topics and technologies were discussed – from social media influencers to evolutions in mobile – a few key themes rose to the top for our team.

Gets a New Look

Overview: Facebook recently announced a major update to the news feed aimed to reduce clutter that will affect both users and brands. Content is now the visual centerpiece of the news feed and the overall Facebook user experience, with photos and videos being front and center. While the redesigned news feed has begun to roll out, it’s currently only available to a limited user-base as the company is continuing to gather feedback to make any necessary changes before the overhaul on web, mobile and tablets. This is also timely with YouTube’s roll out of new channels, to adjust images to fit with increasing desktop screen sizes and to be more mobile and tablet friendly.  This roll-out does not appear to have any impact on current age-gated pages.

Impact on Consumers: CEO and Co-Founder Mark Zuckerberg referred to the redesign as becoming a “personalized newspaper” for Facebook users. The new look and feel will allow users to have more control over what appears in their feed – giving them the ability to subscribe to different feeds – from friends, music, games, and brands they follow.

Opportunity for Brands: Brands will now be able to have their own news feeds, which fans can opt in to subscribe to. Currently, a fan who “likes” a brand page may see as few as 1 out of 5 updates that brand sends.  Now brand updates will appear in users’ news feeds like those of their friends (consistently), making it a massive change from the current system of “liking” a brand’s fan page and then seeing only some of the posts that brands share, so this is a huge opportunity for brands to engage with their Facebook audience. On the other hand, the changes also makes it easier for consumers to segment brands from their feeds, which potentially means that content may go unseen. Content is more important than ever, so this is something the brand teams should keep in mind when planning updates and creating branded images. Part of the experience will be a “test and learn” with brands, but overall, creating solid branded content is key. Currently, we do not know how this will directly impact brand metrics and measurement, as well as advertising on the platform, but will follow up as more information is released.

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