Facebook's latest update to the way it presents shared information to users could help bank marketers.
A battery of changes will include larger photos and four new feeds (to keep tabs on all friends, the photos friends are sharing, music the user has indicated he likes, and the latest news from pages and people the user follows). The new feeds could help bank customers keep up with what their financial services companies are sharing, assuming they "friend" their banks.
The Menlo Park, Calif. company says the new look of its news feed, which it began rolling out this week, is meant to align its online look and feel with the company's mobile browser display on smartphones and tablets.
What Facebook isn't saying is that the changes will most likely have the greatest effect on advertisers, says Rakesh Agrawal, a consultant on mobile payments and marketing. That includes banks that buy social media ads.
"All advertisers should benefit from more engaging creative opportunities," he says in a note to American Banker, if they can create good and engaging content that users will be able to more easily find, he says.
Though the design changes won't directly affect how banks do business on Facebook, they could stand to gain from the new look by providing more visual content in their social media posts.
"It will be an ongoing trend to add easier navigation around visuals and personalization to make data tell your story," says Bradley Leimer, who leads digital channel strategy for Northern California-based Mechanics Bank, in a direct message to American Banker on Twitter.
A bank could display credit and debit card transactions with images rather than text, for example.
"Imagine your transactions laid out with imagery that you select, or a focus on the location of the transaction," Leimer says.
In addition, there is a premium being placed on good Facebook content, says Jim Marous, a senior vice president of corporate development at digital direct marketing agency New Control, and author of the Bank Marketing Strategy blog, in an email to American Banker.
"With the changes, banks that develop engaging videos for their services and products will have a greater likelihood of this content being seen by the desired audience and of the video content being positioned more favorably," he says. "Traditional, copy-heavy messages that announce new products or try to cross-sell will be skipped or get less desirable positioning. As with all digital content going forward, the changes to Facebook will require more advanced content development to take advantage of both positioning and targeting changes."
Marous references statistics that say banks believe roughly 16% of their content served reach their Facebook followers. "With the changes, it is believed this number can go up significantly for those who are avid followers or interested in a bank," he says. "The value of good content is emphasized — the user will 'reward' people and businesses that have good content by positioning these people [and] organizations favorably in their feed."