Facebook Takes Next Step Towards Becoming Publishing Powerhouse – Updates ‘Notes’

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Last month, reports circulated that Facebook was testing a new version of its ‘Notes’ blogging option to become more of a player in the long-form content landscape. At that time, we noted that on-platform blogging could be a big win for Facebook, following a similar model to LinkedIn which now has more than a million of their users posting long-form blog content direct to the site. Well, those reports have proven to be accurate – Facebook has today confirmed, via an official blog post, that a new version of Notes is now active, with a range of new features and additions to make it a more appealing proposition for bloggers and readers alike.

Facebook Takes Next Step Towards Becoming Publishing Powerhouse - Updates ‘Notes’ | Social Media TodayThe new version of Notes is a major improvement on Facebook’s personal blog offering – for context, a post in the ‘old’ Notes looks like this:

Facebook Takes Next Step Towards Becoming Publishing Powerhouse - Updates ‘Notes’ | Social Media TodayAnd while I could put a photo in there for additional context, there’s really not much more to it, it’s very simple, very basic. Very bland. The new version, according to Facebook, makes Notes “more beautiful and customizable”.

From the official announcement:

“With this update, you can add a cover photo that represents what your note is all about. You can caption and resize photos, and format your text into headers, quotes or bullets.”

Facebook Takes Next Step Towards Becoming Publishing Powerhouse - Updates ‘Notes’ | Social Media Today

Old ‘Notes’ on the left and New ‘Notes’ on the right

As has been pointed out by various outlets, the new layout looks a lot like Medium – which is not such a bad thing, Medium’s a great looking blog option designed to prioritize text content and improve the reading experience.

Facebook Takes Next Step Towards Becoming Publishing Powerhouse - Updates ‘Notes’ | Social Media Today

Medium (left) vs new Notes (right)

And it works – Medium has many high-profile contributors who praise the site, and with more than 17 million unique visitors per month, they’re clearly doing something right.

The new Notes is an interesting option, and one which aligns further with Facebook’s ambitions to dominate all time spent on the internet. The push into hosting more original content on the platform started with Instant Articles, which was then boosted when Facebook announced an algorithm update which would favor time spent reading posts – which, of course, means it’ll favor long-form content. That being the case, the increased reach of those longer form posts, as determined by the updated algorithm, might just be enough to get more people considering Facebook as a legitimate blogging option. Facebook’s reach capacity is unmatched, there’s no where else you’ll have the potential to hit as big an audience as you will on The Social Network. This is the carrot Zuckerberg and Co are holding out in front of all publishers at the moment, and just this week they’ve moved to ramp up Instant Articles and get more Instant content flowing through the network. Instant Articles is the first step at Facebook becoming a major player in publishing – add to that the new journalist tools they’ve added, like access to Facebook’s live-streaming functionality and the addition of ‘Signal’ for journalistic research, and it’s clear that this is something Facebook is taking very seriously, advancing their publishing project in a very calculated and structured way.

When viewed from this context, it’s not hard to imagine that Facebook may soon become the core hub of online publishing. Add in the fact that the vast majority of time people spend using smartphones is in apps, and that Facebook is the leader in terms of app time spent, and you can see how Facebook could spread it’s dominance into the publishing arena. Pretty soon, you won’t need to go anywhere else to read content or get your news fix, Facebook will find it all and serve it up for you, delivered faster than traditional web browsing and more specifically aligned to your personal interests and preferences.  

In this sense, building a new personal blogging option is a great move, as it will encourage more users to post more original content to The Social Network. As more publishers come on board, and more people come to rely on Facebook as a content source, bloggers will also be able to capitalize on that attention and build audience by aligning with the shift in reader behavior – a post on your WordPress page might get 100 readers, but maybe, on Facebook, you get a thousand, a big draw. But of course, building an audience on Facebook also means you’re building a reliance on ‘borrowed land’, and Facebook can change the rules on you at any moment, reducing your content reach and pushing you towards paid promotion. But maybe, by that stage, bloggers will be so reliant on Facebook traffic that they’ll have no choice.

This is all long term projection and speculation, but you can see how Facebook might be planning out their takeover of internet publishing, in all forms. In effect, this is how Facebook won over businesses, creating a platform that offered great audience reach, then slowly reducing that capacity and forcing businesses to pay for the privilege. Could this announcement be the first step in them doing the same to bloggers?

Facebook’s new Notes will be available to all users shortly via the desktop version and fully viewable on mobile.

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#SocialSkim: Pinterest the Purchasing Powerhouse, Plus 11 More Stories in This Week’s Roundup

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Pinterest is gearing up as a significant e-commerce player; we’ll show you how to take advantage. Also see how Twitter’s making data easier to use in real-time (and how your feed can influence your creativity). And learn how Instagram and Vine are improving their look and feel to stay sticky.

Skim to start your summer social!

Impulse pinning, impulse buying. Pinterest announced the coming arrival of pins with a “Buy It” button, and just in time: People like using Pins to plan purchases, whether for weddings (see No. 1, below), vacations, or DIY projects. Intent is there, and it’s strong.

The big blue button lets people purchase within the app. A price filter will help make cost comparisons by pin, and an “options” feature lets users swipe through pins to choose between product variations. Payment can be made via Apple Pay or credit card—info that’s stored so customers never have to enter it again.

To activate Buyable Pins, businesses using Shopify can simply log in, add the Pinterest channel, and enable Buyable Pins. Demandware customers will get Buyable Pins in the coming weeks. Say hello to the Pin-based impulse buy.

1. Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna be pinning

Summer is wedding season. To prepare yourself for Buyable Pins, stretch your board-building muscles by helping hopeful wedding planners out on Pinterest.

Jared Del Prete of EGC Group has tips for ensuring your matrimonial pinnables don’t go unnoticed: Make images pinnable, use the correct size ratios to ensure image quality (between 2:3 to 1:3.5 with a minimum width of 600 pixels), and boost your work with some handy-dandy self-service advertising.

2. Instagram: Opening to all advertisers!

Instagram’s also testing ads that let people click to buy a product or install an app. It also plans to open to all advertisers this year, letting them target its 300 million users based on interest, age, gender, and other factors.

Experts say if Instagram’s audience filtering features are as granular as parent company Facebook’s, it’s just a question of time before the social photo-sharing site becomes a thriving e-commerce hive.

Some aren’t convinced Insta will be the retail haven that Pinterest will be. Its users “are generally in a place of inspiration and discovery,” said DigitasLBi’s Jill Sherman. “Purchase behavior will likely be impulsive, so scarcity—like limited time and quantity—will be necessary to capitalize on this audience at first.”

RBC Capital Markets thinks the buy ads could generate $ 1.3-$ 2.1 billion in Facebook revenue this year.

To prep, learn to up your Instagram game (complete with totally theft-worthy ideas!)—just in time for Instagram’s flatter and less-cluttered redesign (meaning your pictures will pop in ways they never have before).

3. Say goodbye to a classic villain

Sir Christopher Lee passed on at age 93. You may remember his terrifying turn as Count Dracula (though younger readers will better recognize him as Saruman from Lord of the Rings). Social users are bereft.

Our advice for whenever a major passing occurs: Employees can mourn openly on personal accounts; the brand can pay respects if the gesture feels authentic. But please don’t attach a logo, tagline, or a product/service tie-in or mention to the act.

4. Facebook Place Tips open to SMBs!

The best time to connect with a customer is often while they’re in the store. Facebook’s Place Tips, launched in test mode early this year, helps people learn more about the places and businesses they’re visiting on their phones (for example, a restaurant can share its signature dishes or cocktails). Local businesses that tried it saw an uptick in Page traffic from in-store users.

As of this week, Facebook’s opening Place Tips to everyone. To activate yours, request a Facebook Bluetooth Beacon.

Pro-tip: Make your Place Tip more memorable by adding a welcome note with a promotion!

In somewhat related news, Tealium data reveals that brands increasingly see Facebook as an advertising partner… and it’s moving in on Google territory.

5. Introducing Heron, real-time Twitter analytics

Twitter’s introducing Heron, a Storm replacement that’s equipped to better support Twitter’s huge analytics and activity load—without so much as a burp.

The more robust system makes it possible to provide real-time analytics, up to billions of events per minute with “sub-second latency,” so it won’t freeze up if there’s a major event going down. The result: better developer productivity, better overall performance, and more current analytics for you!

Overwhelmed? SocialBro provides details on how to read Twitter data to meet objectives.

6. Save time with social templates

The kind folks at Buffer App released 24 social media templates to help you prepare reports, build strategies, campaign-plan, and more.

Three of our favorites are the 15-minute social media audit, the Tweet headline formula template, and the editorial calendar publishing schedule.

7. Too many tweets? Never lose the plot again…

Twitter’s made it easier to follow and read ongoing conversations in its timeline. Conversations will be grouped together, with the most “interesting” exchanges highlighted just below.

Use it for ongoing news about an app update, or to follow a Q&A with a celeb. The feature’s already begun to roll out among desktop users; the mobile version will come later.

8. Your Twitter feed can influence your creativity!

Research finds that employees with a diverse Twitter network generate better ideas than those with homogenous networks.

“Diverse” networks are defined as networks that expose users to ideas they don’t already know, which means Twitter is great for cross-pollenating innovation between sectors. The more diverse a person’s network, the more likely she is to be innovative.

The phenomenon was compared to Steve Jobs’ approach: As CEO of Pixar, he insisted that the building be constructed in a way that forces staff to mingle and mix with people from other departments.

Hello, serendipity! And think how much funner your feed will be when it’s not crammed with SEO tips.

9. Shoot and Share landscape vids on Twitter!

We weren’t all born Ansel Adams, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share glorious views worth panning over. To activate Twitter’s new landscape mode on your phone, click on the feature that lets you add a photo to your post. Then hit the camera icon and click the red video button. Turn your phone sideways and start shooting!

10. Vine: Flip through recent and popular videos

A much-needed search update makes it simpler to find inspiring Vine content to fuel your creative juices. Now, when you hit the Explore tab and enter a search term, you’ll have the option to watch top posts or recent ones in addition to related people and tags.

Expect the rollout in coming weeks for iOS; Android might need a longer wait.

11. We’ll wrap with something inspirational

HSBC’s “Lift” ad follows a young company founder over the course of 40 years… without ever leaving an elevator. Set to a pretty tune by Yann Tiersen, you’ll find it hard not to identify with his ups and downs; even in digital, starting a company requires personal sacrifice, crazy hope, and a lot of love.

If you’re a period costuming fan, you’ll love how the clothing, settings, and even the man change as the ad draws to its emotional close, leaving us with the following words: “It’s never just business.” A nice reminder of what matters when trying to approach people on social—which is all about expressing the human side of your company.

HSBC – Lift from Grey London on Vimeo.

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