There’s no question: Facebook is changing the way news is consumed. Some news outlets, such as BuzzFeed, have even begun to tailor their articles to increase the likelihood that their article gets shared on the platform. Facebook, and other social media platforms, allows news organization to reach a wider audience, so it follows that news organizations alter the way they report the news in order to increase readership.
Realizing this trend of news reporting and news reading via Facebook (and hoping to capitalize on this), Facebook has begun rolling out several tools specifically for journalists.
Published natively to Facebook, Instant Articles (and the advertisements) load within a mere second or two. News publishers upload their articles directly to Facebook, add their advertisers to the article, and share it on Facebook. Readers can load the content more quickly because they don’t need to load an external webpage and/or another app. Plus, it keeps readers on the platform.
Created first for celebrities and then rolled out to journalists, Mentions allow for easier engagement with fans and readers.
A platform specifically for keeping up to date with what is trending on Facebook, Signal allows journalists to source content from the platform.
Just today, Facebook announced they will allow independent writers to publish Instant Articles. Although the articles must first be uploaded to a website, this opens up the doors for nearly anyone to become a reporter. “Citizen journalists” might just take on a new meaning as Facebook rolls out this new feature.
Additionally Michael Reckhow, the product manager for Instant Articles, told Nieman Lab that he envisions that “individual pieces of media inside the article can break out and have a life of their own.” These pieces of media may then become stories apart from the larger article. This type of snackable content will likely become huge in the coming years (more on snackable content later).
I also believe video, especially short ones with captions, will become more widely used on Facebook. One news organization that is already doing this is Business Insider. They post short 1-3 minute videos that highlight the most important pieces of the video; some videos don’t even include speech. This feeds information to their followers quickly and also opens up a dialogue in the comments section.
Snackable content is king
According to Slate, a full 38% leave an article before even reaching the end of the first paragraph. We are in “the age of skimming,” the article continues. Posting short articles and videos directly to Facebook (like the Instant Articles pieces of media and the Business Insider video mentioned above) help Facebook users to consume more content.
Posting content natively to Facebook does, of course, does raise a few eyebrows. And for good reason: should news outlets place all of their content on “rented land?” Mark Zuckerberg makes a compelling argument. News organizations are beginning to shift toward posting content directly to Facebook for a reason – they are seeing results and receiving ad dollars that could be spent with a competitor if they don’t receive said results.
Will Facebook become the number one source of news in the coming years? Only time will tell, but it seems they are investing a great deal of effort and research to reach this point.