Facebook never sleeps, and neither does its dev department, with a seemingly ever-growing range of tests and tweaks in circulation. Indeed, the version of Facebook you see is probably not the one I have – in almost every region, and among different users within each area, Facebook’s constantly trying out new things.
It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the various shifts, but we’re working to help you stay on top of them by publishing a weekly listing of Facebook tests and updates seen ‘in the wild’. And while not all of these projects will ever see it through to a full rollout, they do give you some idea of where The Social Network is looking, what elements they’re seeking to amplify, which can help you plan for what to expect next.
Here’s this week’s listing of tests, including two new ad options which are of particular interest.
1. Partial watch indicator
As Facebook moves deeper into video, they’re also looking to implement new tools to improve the viewer experience on the platform. One of their latest tests is an indicator of how much you’ve watched of a specific video (or read of a specific post) within your saved items listing, so you can go back to it at any time and pick up where you left off.
The option will make it easier for users to scan through the content they’ve saved, as they’ll be able to see which they’ve already completed, encouraging more use of the save function and more content consumption on platform overall.
Facebook’s Save option is likely more popular than you’d think – late last year, Facebook reported that more than 250 million people use the save feature every month. Given this, improving its functionality makes perfect sense – and as noted, with video becoming a more significant element, it’ll also make it easier for users to pause and resume their video watching in a more seamless manner.
2. New Events tab
Facebook’s also experimenting with a new ‘Events’ tab, even adding it to the lower function bar for some users.
Particularly interesting here is that the Events icon has been added to the bar, as opposed to replacing something – most users still only have five options along the bottom bar, but Facebook has been experimenting with adding another for various purposes.
Facebook’s been working to improve Events this year, adding a range of new functions and tools to help generate more engagement with events content. Indeed, the push on Events can be clearly linked to Mark Zuckerberg’s revised vision for The Social Network, with both ‘civic engagement’ and ‘community inclusion’ highlighted as key areas of focus for the platform moving forward.
If Facebook can get more people engaging in real-world events, that could help improve Facebook’s position as an essential utility.
The option appears to be in fairly limited testing right now.
3. ‘Create Similar Ad’
Here’s an interesting one for marketers – Facebook recently added a new option to their drop-down menu on ads which enables Page managers to ‘Create Similar Ad’.
Clicking on it doesn’t give you a heap of information, but it does show you the objective that ad was created for. Combine that with this simple process for examining how your competitors and using Facebook ads, and it provides another way to help you determine the tactics being used by your competitors, which you can then adopt and/or adapt for your own purposes.
Some users have reported seeing this option available for some time, so it may not be entirely new for you, but either way, an interesting option to consider when going about your Facebook ads process.
4. Audience indicator
There’s a lot of potential in this one also – some Facebook users are now seeing a new indicator on their video posts which shows where most of their viewers are tuning in from.
This would enable Pages to better target their promotions, and act on viewer trends as they occur.
We’ll likely see more of this type of proactive targeting in future as Facebook looks to better utilize their massive audience data set to encourage more ad spend. This type of insight isn’t new, you’ve been able to track performance metrics like this in Facebook Insights or via Ads Manager for some time, but the option will help users not as attuned to the platform’s targeting depth to make better use of such trends.
It’s fairly small, in isolation – but helpful nonetheless, and Facebook could use these prompts in various ways to better promote their ad options.
And the last new addition this week is Facebook’s new ‘Snooze’ tool for taking a break from annoying accounts.
It’s similar to the ‘Take a Break’ option Facebook rolled out to most users in late 2015, though more all-encompassing – click on the ‘Snooze’ option and you’ll be able to temporarily unfollow friends, Pages or Groups for 24 hours, 7 days or 30 days.
Everyone has friends or Pages they follow that overshare from certain events or with certain news, and sometimes you just need to shut them off. Rather than unfollowing, ‘Snooze’ provides a means to tune them out till they settle down, allowing you both the time and space to do what you need without causing tension.