Facebook announced a new look-and-feel for their news feed designed to provide users a more engaging, graphically-rich experience. The new design will provide users the ability to engage with Facebook in a cleaner environment, much like Google+.

This is long overdue for Facebook which is a platform that has succeeded despite itself. The klunky, cluttered user interface doesn’t seem to bother vast swaths of their nearly 1 billion followers, but Facebook has seen the future the the future is what Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ are all about — graphics.

Let’s start with a fundamental fact — people process information better through visuals than they do through the written word. According to research collected by HubSpot, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

Of course, if you’ve been hanging around Google+ for any length of time, you’ve noticed that Google+ is all about the graphics. Only about 25% of what’s shared on Google+ comes in the form of text. The rest are graphically-rich images that users create and share on Google+’s fast-growing platform (now up to 350 million+).

(Side note: Are we connected on Google+ yet? If not, just click here and add me to your circles.)

All that said, Facebook didn’t steal everything from Google+. They couldn’t resist putting a big, ugly black bar down the left-hand column. Check it out.

From a business angle, graphics will be more important than ever before. Bigger, richer images in the Facebook news feed will be an enhancement for most users. And the businesses that leverage that aspect of Facebook will position themselves well against their competitors in the future.

The future is in mobile. One of the strengths of the new news feed is the fact that it has a similar look-and-feel across multiple platforms. Of course, maintaing your brand across platforms is Marketing 101, but the big, ugly black bar on the desktop interface renders quite well on the smartphone interface.

With the growing importance of mobile (outlined in my book Go Mobile), it was smart for Facebook to develop an interface that seems to work very well on smartphones. In fact, if they went about the re-design the correct way, they probably used a mobile-first strategy which starts with a smartphone design and works backwards from there.

5 ways you can benefit from Facebook’s new news feed. Right now, your competitors are reading this post or one like it. They’re trying to figure out how to use Facebook’s new design to get the attention of your users or customers. With that in mind, we’ve come up with several things you can do to get a head start on your competition.

  1. Incorporate video into your content marketing strategy: We’ve been at the forefront of using video to engage prospects for a long time at the 60 Second Marketer. When I’m asked to appear on CNN or HLN to talk about social or mobile, we’re always quick to upload it to our YouTube channel. We’ve even created a new video series called On Air with Jamie Turner designed to leverage the jump to video. You can do the same kind of thing. After all, if you don’t, your competitors will.
  2. Upload highly-visual content on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and others: Remember, once you’ve created visually-appealing content, it’s your job to share it across multiple platforms. You’ll definitely want to share it on Facebook, but what about Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram? The more places you share your graphics, the more likely you’ll be able to drive leads to your business.
  3. Engage your most influential fans: Here’s a great trick. Identify your biggest fans, then promote them using your graphics on Facebook (and elsewhere). 21st Century marketing is all about helping others. The more you help others, the more they help you.
  4. Upload quotable quotes from employees and thought leaders. People love sharing great quotes, especially if they’re 1) uplifting, and 2) presented in a graphically-appealing way. At the bottom of this post, I’ve shared a quotable quote that’s presented in an engaging manner. You can do the same with your employees or thought-leaders in your industry.
  5. Encourage users to check in at your business. Location has been getting a lot of traction lately. Google+ has integrated Google Places into their platform. And when Facebook launched Graph Search, it had location-based technology built into it. By finding ways to encourage people to check-in at your business, you’re helping others find your business in their friends-only feeds. Give it a try.

When Facebook makes a change, you have an advantage. Business is competitive, no doubt about it. So when Facebook or any other social media platform makes a change to their interface, it’s your job to leverage the change and use it to create a competitive advantage.

I know what you’re thinking — you’ve got enough on your plate already and you don’t have the time or bandwidth to jump all over the new Facebook news feed. But I’m going to encourage you to do so. By getting a head start now, you can create a competitive advantage for you and your business tomorrow.

Action Steps: Here are several steps you can take to benefit from these changes. By putting them into action now, you’ll be a step ahead of your competition.

  • Get on the waitlist: Facebook currently has a waiting list for people interested in using the new interface. You can sign up here and be one of the first to use it when they send you an invitation.
  • Share the waitlist link with your fellow employees: If you’re really going to leverage the new Facebook, you’ll have to do it with your fellow employees, so share the waitlist link with them.
  • Gather together for a brainstorming session. Mashable has a good article about the new Facebook platform here. Check it out and look at the images they’ve pulled. Project it up on a screen and brainstorm about it during a lunch session.
  • Most importantly, execute. What’s the point of having a brainstorming session if you’re not going to execute your ideas? Once you’ve whiteboarded out your ideas from the brainstorming session, collect the 3 or 4 strongest ideas. Then, execute. That’s where most people fall down. You don’t want to be most people.

Good luck. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. And keep us posted on your progress.

Jamie Turner is the Founder of the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile.He is also a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.