With 1.71 billion users you can safely say that Facebook helps shape the future of the internet. As everyone who is involved in business with Facebook knows, Facebook changes and launches new services almost daily and tries out new changes. The main line in everything that Facebook does is catching attention for advertisements. For this, the company is now focusing entirely on collecting valuable content in its walled garden.
Completely in line with the trends of content marketing and 'thought leadership', more and more companies are transforming into publishing. Also for companies that do not see themselves as a media company, the focus is more and more on content. And Facebook sees a major role for itself in the distribution of that content.
Facebook wants all the attention
Facebook started out as the place where friends and family exchange updates and links to interesting content. Facebook is now working on a new set of tools for publishers and public figures that will bring that content exclusively to the Facebook platform and users will no longer have to leave Facebook:
- Video: Facebook works there hard to become the video platform and push YouTube off the throne. (sometimes a little too hard) The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge generated 10 billion views on Facebook and only 1 billion views on YouTube. Mobile Facebook users have noticed for a long time that videos immediately start playing in the timeline (and can only be turned off via that little cross). And Facebook page administrators generate more reach with uploaded videos than with a link to YouTube or Vimeo. Facebook videos can now also be embedded on external websites. Facebook also conducts conversations with record labels for placing video clips exclusively on Facebook.
To supplement this recent video that elaborates on the somewhat dubious way in which Facebook is involved with video. Content creators are currently poorly protected on Facebook:
- Articles: Facebook launched this summer Instant Articles with which content creators can place their content integrally on Facebook. National Geographic, BBC News, MTV and BuzzFeed are a few of those publishers who together provide thousands of articles per day on Facebook. Facebook has set up a whole team led by Justin Osofsky for media partnerships, with for example an HBO (for the premiere of Game of Thrones), CNN, The Rock and journalist Anderson Cooper.
Added value for publishers
In addition to Instant Articles, Facebook also has the app Mentions launched, with which public figures can see what fans say about them. And in August 2015 the app was expanded with Live: allows public figures to share a video live with fans. Think of a Q&A, announcements or a look behind the scenes, all in real time. As of April 2016, we can also go live with unknown Facebookers, a development that Nu.nl is eagerly anticipating with its app NUlive with which you can report Live of an event in front of you.
Facebook also addresses journalists with Signal, a free tool for collecting relevant news on Facebook and Instagram. This allows journalists to detect reactions, photos and videos related to news, sports and entertainment.
In December 2014 Facebook already released new tools on Facebook pages for publishers, including an extension of the target group definition with interests, and an end date for Facebook messages. The statistics were also expanded with insights into the traffic that Facebook sends to websites. Interesting, since Facebook surpassed Google this year as the number one traffic source for major publishers.
Now actually not being new 360-degree videos: spherical videos recorded in 360 degrees where you as a user can determine from which angle you want to look. Affiliated publishers include Star Wars, Discovery and VICE. So indeed, in December you can expect exclusive interactive videos on Facebook from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Also a nice step to the Oculus Rift that has been available since 2016.
Facebook offers publishers an ideal path to consumers, but as David Carr described in the New York Times, there are also threats lurking. What websites did for print, Facebook can do for websites. This is because publishers can lose their role as destination and distributor, whereby Facebook determines what is and is not shown in its own ecosystem. Will Lewis of the Dow Jones also note the potential loss of the deep relationship between the editor and the readers when the content predominates and not the sender.
Yet not everyone sees it gloomy: The Washington Post places all articles on Instant Articles, the main reason being that they obtain valuable analytical user data about their articles.
Retailers are also currently using content to inspire online shoppers and lead them to their site, such as one Wehkamp earlier this year. Reason for Facebook to retailers to seduce them to share their content with Facebook. The Facebook app is being expanded as an experiment in North America with a special buying section, and with a new advertising format consumers can look into the catalogs of retailers. This also makes Facebook a destination for online shopping, although it focuses on inspiration. The final purchase is currently on the website of the retailer.
Facebook is not only targeting the content of publishers, but also that of consumers with the blog service Notes. This allows users to post a large cover photo and adjust the density of the text. Now most Facebook users are mainly consumers and not publishers. Last November the message came that the 'like' will be expanded with several emoticons and the long-awaited 'dislike'. This in turn gives more opportunities for engagement, which already yields interesting data analyzes.
The Facebook Page Insights have also been expanded with emoticons, which will give publishers insights into the emotion that their content evokes. MarketingLand gives here tips for using emoticons in posts.
As a content consumer, we are increasingly at the helm of our timeline. We possess extra options to determine from which person or page we see and do not see the messages.
Facebook wants to be internet
When Facebook bought Oculus Rift, it stated Michael Wolf from Activate all that Facebook wants to be the internet. The reason he gave was the assumed expectation that after mobile, virtual reality will be the leading platform. I think the conclusion is correct, but not the reason. With the enormous growth in services and content, there is less and less reason for Facebook users to access the internet outside of Facebook. Everything you are looking for will place Facebook in its walled garden.