For some of us, social media is something we love to hate. While social networks such as Facebook may be entertaining for us, its popularity and expansion as a massive, global business can feel a bit intimidating, especially when it seemingly competes within our industry. Whether or not these reservations are justified, there is no denying a heightened sense that sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have a certain level of influence over our culture. This does not just include the way we perceive ourselves and those around us, but equally as important – the way we absorb information.
Facebook is an extremely popular and important source
News, information, and sharing for people of all ages. Facebook is a content juggernaut (and guess what, they don’t produce any of the content) and it wants more pieces of the so called “freedom of information” pie. In a recent notable move, Facebook revamped their Notes feature to make it more like a blog. This way, more and more people can write, produce, and access content that reaches a built-in audience of over 1.5 billion people. The spruced up new Notes feature looks remarkably similar to other blogging platforms such as Medium, and allows people create posts under their own name on Facebook. This way, their musings can all be found in one place and be associated with their name or online persona.
Instant Articles and Notes are driving Facebook’s vision
Even more significant than Notes is Facebook’s plans for Instant Articles, which are pieces of content that brands and publishers create somewhat exclusively on Facebook. Users that click and want to read an Instant Article can do so, and they never leave Facebook. Many are calling Facebook’s Instant Articles an industry game-changer, and we have 11 reasons why they might very well be.
So what’s the problem with this exactly? While this may seem like a win-win for the expansion of content and accessibility to diverse opinions, it also poses a problem in terms of content ownership. Simply put, having a variety of content platforms like we do today helps both individuals and brands own their opinions, while also building an audience for brands and businesses across the world. Can the Notes feature and Instant Articles on Facebook compete with the likes of the New York Times? Definitely not… well, not yet. But that doesn’t mean there is no reason to be a bit concerned.
Today, every publication has a voice
Every publication has a voice, but if all of web’s content were to live solely on Facebook, these unique voices, stories, and perspectives would get lost in the madness of one gigantic feeding ground. More importantly for brands, their content loses its connection to loyal fans and readers who seek them out. This type of move to Facebook means these companies no longer own their own content. Facebook does
According to the New York Times Innovation Report, only 10% of NYT’s traffic arrives at their site from Facebook. This means promoting their content on Facebook is not in fact an effective strategy for getting people to engage in the site. Instead, it does the reverse as people tend to choose Facebook as the platform of choice to continue the conversation of specific articles and stories.
That’s why more and more publishers are employing social features such as chat, newsfeeds, and notifications on their sites. This gives people the social experience they crave without the need to turn to social media. Sites such as Littlethings.com use Spot.IM’s social tools to create a robust onsite social experience. Other sites such as BoredPanda.com employ social features such as “likes”, “upvotes”, and a point system to give users a prominent role in their online community.
Yes, Facebook is impressive and successful at what it does
They have succeeded in creating a community and business where people can connect deeply to causes and brands they identify with. But, by trying to do it all, they may actually hinder the positive effects of information that has been made possible through the growth of the internet. So while Facebook and other social media platforms are not necessarily to blame for our generation’s obsession with selfies, if they can stick to what they know, they will continue to be a key player in furthering the production of information.