Facebook has started rolling out the "New Facebook," a redesign of the Facebook website. This change doesn't affect the Facebook mobile app, but does affect anyone who uses Facebook in the browser.
Overall, I love the new Facebook layout. I find it to be more modern and less clunky than the existing Facebook. The navigation is simple and intuitive in comparison to the cluttered old Facebook. The icons and visual elements have rounded corners.
In this article, I'll list all the changes we've noticed between the New Facebook and the old. I also speculate what these changes will mean for creators, marketers, small businesses, and publishers that use the Facebook platform to manage community, grow an audience, or run a business.
How to Get the New Facebook
Facebook has rolled out its new experience over the last couple of weeks. Facebook users will get a blue notification that says "You can switch to the new Facebook.com at any time" when they're eligible for the change. As a Californian, I I got the change about a week ago, and there are still some people on my team who have not gotten the new Facebook yet.
Once you're eligible, you can switch back and forth between the old and new view at any time. It doesn't seem that Facebook is going to deprecate the old view any time soon, which makes it a smoother rollout.
What "New" With Facebook?
Visually, a lot changed. Dark mode. Rounded icons. More modern design that matches the Facebook mobile app design.
Functionally, there are very few changes. Although it the new Facebook looks very different, it does mostly the same things as the old Facebook. Below, I list the changes I've seen and describe how publishers and content creators might react to these changes.
Watch, Pages, Groups, and Marketplace used to be tabs on the left-hand side of the page. When you clicked to one of them or to your profile, these navigations buttons disappeared.
Now, these other surfaces - Pages, Watch, Marketplace, and Groups - are equally prominent as the main news feed. You can access them from anywhere on Facebook.
Otherwise, the functional changes to the new Facebook homepage are pretty small. There's now a "Contacts" section in the right-hand side to give people quick access to their friends' profiles. You can also access your contacts from the person icon in the lower right-hand corner.
Takeaway: With more accessible entry points, more eyeballs will go to Watch, Pages, Groups, and Marketplace. Try starting a Page or Watchlist for your business to capture this attention.
Facebook used to be all "light mode" with a light-colored background and black text/icons. Now, they've enabled users to default to "dark mode" with a black background and white text and icons.
Takeaway: Consider how dark mode will definitely your visual aesthetic strategies. Dark mode means that colors stick out or blend in to the feed background in new ways. Overall, I think dark mode will make visual content - images, videos, and graphics - more important on Facebook as they'll pop more in contrast to the dark feed. You may consider increasing the brightness of your photos and videos to make them contrast more in the feed.
At a high level, the New Facebook puts more emphasis on Groups. In addition to the main news feed where users see mixed posts from friends, publishers, advertisers, and groups they're a member of, there is a new Groups feed that aggregates posts from Groups only.
From what I can tell, the Groups feed has no ads or sponsored content.
The Group page itself has changed its layout. In the new Facebook, groups have tabs for Announcements, Discussion, Rooms, Members and Media. Admin tools and Group Insights are now much easier to access, available directly in the left-hand menu.
In the old Facebook, members used to be listed in the right-hand column. Other tabs have moved from the left-side menu.
Takeaway: With the New Facebook and more time spent online during quarantine, Facebook Groups are going to become a much more important means of engagement for business owners and community leaders. If you haven't invested in a Facebook Group, it's time to consider it. Facebook is clearly investing energy in the admin tools and Insights tab, so leverage their analytics, Schedule Posts tab, and other tools to reach your target audience.
In the new Facebook, it's easier to search for content on profiles. There's a new "Search" and "Filter" functionality to access content from the past.
Profile photos are moved to the center of profiles instead of being offset on the left-hand side.
Takeaway: Profile banners will be more symmetric and use more left-side space. For example, we may see more Facebook cover collages. It's also easier for creators to find Facebook profiles that contain specific keywords using the new search functionality.
Photos that are square and vertical now get padding to make them 1.2:1 in the feed. The new Facebook automatically adds a colored background that matches the salient color of the photo. It's not exactly clear how Facebook calculates this color.
The maximum aspect ratio on the new Facebook is 2:3. If a photo or video is taller than 2:3, it will be cropped.
Takeaway: To ensure that the crucial content isn't cropped out, crop your photos and videos to 3:2 before uploading them to Facebook. If you want to control the colored background behind the photos and avoid Facebook's automatic padding, add your own colored background to make the media 1.2:1.
Annoyingly, it seems that Facebook has once again made it harder to upload videos as cover images. In the old Facebook, page admins could choose "Upload Photo/Video" from the cover area edit menu. Now, businesses must upload a video to their feed in order to use it as a cover video.
The new Facebook also doesn't support uploading videos to your Facebook Story. Previously, you could post a photo or video. Now, it's only possible to upload a photo.
Takeaway: Creators may need to use the native app to post videos on Facebook. Crop your video to the right size for the cover area before publishing it. Hopefully, Facebook will move towards more video support on the website so that creators using desktop and web-based video editors can upload their videos directly from their computer.
New Grid View in Watch
When you open a Watchlist, there's a new "list view" layout option vs the old grid view layout. Viewers can still go back to the Grid view by toggling the list vs grid option.
Takeaway: For Publishers, this means that there is more room for a title on the videos you post. There's less truncation and more space to pull viewers in with compelling titles.
Slightly Unfinished: Pages
Some features and capabilities are not yet supported in the New Facebook. When you hit an unsupported feature, Facebook shows you an error notice and projects the old Facebook within the main view. Here's a list of all the unsupported features that I've found so far:
- Page Inbox: Messaging with people from your page
- Page Publishing tools
There are many other things I still haven't tried, like creating an event or page, so I will update this list as I discover other uncovered features.
Takeaway: There are more changes to come! Follow updates here to learn how new feature rollouts in the future will affect business page owners and admins.
The New Facebook feels like a win for both publishers and for users. Groups are going to become even more important for businesses, so it's a great time to start building a community on Facebook. Here at Kapwing, we've started a big initiative to invest in a Facebook Group for Creators in light of these recent changes.
Notice other changes that aren't included in this article? Please Tweet at me or DM me with descriptions and screenshots, and I'll updated them here!
I hope that this article helps you prepare for the New Facebook as it rolls out to more people and nurture a growing audience. Here at Kapwing, we try to help content creators navigate changes on social media platforms and create images/videos to meet the new requirements. Thanks for reading!