Facebook has kicked open the door to the world of online publishing. It’s been quite some time in the making, but they’ve finally achieved what many people had thought they were going to do – become an online publisher.
Other online publishers – such as The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed – have enjoyed a massive influx of traffic from Facebook for the last couple of years now. Even unknown websites and start-ups have been able to use Facebook ads to grow a following and turn their digital publishing brands into something much bigger.
But now, it’s Facebook’s turn!
With 1.44 Billion users worldwide, it’s easy to see why Facebook wanted to jump into the game. And just recently, on the 12th of May, Facebook announced the introduction of their new product ‘Instant Articles’.
According to the Facebook media website, the purpose of this new platform is to allow publishers a vehicle to quickly publish interactive content. As more people continue using mobile devices for sharing content on Facebook, Instant Articles will offer a variety of interactive features.
Some of these features include:
- Zoom in and out for better image viewing (simply by tilting your phone).
- Scroll through stories and watch auto play videos.
- Explore interactive maps with ease.
- Like and comment on particular parts of an article, in-line.
This system enables publishers to have more control over the content they produce. And of course, there are many options for monetisation too. Publishers have the ability to sell ads within the articles through revenue sharing. More importantly, they can track data – and traffic – through the use of comScore, as well as other analytics tools.
At present, Facebook is in a working partnership with several organisations that are already very prominent brands within the online publishing world. These include:
- National Geographic
- NBC News
- The Atlantic
- Spiegel Online
- The Guardian; and,
- The New York Times
In fact, the President and CEO of The New York Times recently noted that “The New York Times already has a significant and growing audience on Facebook. We’re participating in Instant Articles to explore ways of growing the number of Times users on Facebook, improving their experience of our journalism and deepening their engagement. We have a long tradition of meeting readers where they are and that means being available not just on our own sites, but on the social platforms frequented by many current and potential Times users.”
The very first sign that Facebook might be releasing some type of digital editorial product came when David Carr let loose in the The Times that Facebook had been in negotiations with publishers regarding the implementation of content directly onto their social network.
Carr, who passed away just last year, said that Facebook’s strategy in this situation is difficult to predict, and “is a bit like that big dog galloping toward you in the park. More often than not, it’s hard to tell whether he wants to play with you or eat you.”
Of course, there’s the chance that online publishers will simply overlook Facebook’s new platform. However, if their video player is anything to go by (which essentially puts owned video in user’s news feeds, and has had a tremendous amount of success), there could be quite a substantial benefit to using Facebook’s platform.
Is Facebook merely an evil genius? Or are they actually doing something for the greater good? Only time will decide.
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!