Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t joking when he said his vision was for the site to become more like a personalized newspaper.
Recently, Facebook noted that it plans to host content directly, sparking a debate in newsrooms everywhere.
So why could this be a good thing for publishers? We spoke with Christian Jorg, CEO of content marketing platform Opentopic, about why Facebook is doing this and why publishers might be willing to go along with it.
More and more publishers rely on Facebook for traffic, but it’s becoming apparent that Facebook would rather cut out the middle men.
For instance, look at the share performance of native Facebook videos vs. linked YouTube videos (tracked on top brand pages through December):
Seeing this chart, it’s easier to grasp that Facebook doesn’t just want to host videos, it wants those listicles and other pieces of content, too.
Jorg said that publishers should consider hosting content on Facebook — as sites/publications such as BuzzFeed and The New York Times are reportedly doing:
It’s going to be a tough decision for some publishers, but the truth is distributed content is really just one of many things they need to be thinking about. Those that are successful today are executing on multiple paths of innovation at once. Native advertising, branded video, curation – these are real opportunities that are in the mix right now. If whether or not to publish on Facebook represents the entirety of the innovation debate for a publisher, the future is already bleak.
But trusting Facebook can be a risky proposition. Brands have tried to build empires on Facebook, only to see reach and other key metrics crumble when the company changes its News Feed algorithm.
Jorg said that while it’s true that publishers would give up even more power to Facebook, the reward could be greater than the risk — especially on mobile. While the specifics are still a bit of a mystery, the devil will be in the details.
Jorg discussed the risk that publishers take by entrusting Facebook with some of their greatest currency — content:
It’s not easy for publishers to navigate something like this because, regardless of how optimistic you want to be about the opportunity, it’s still another strike against the old way of doing things. Change brings uncertainty and that’s not an ideal state from which to innovate and take risk. But, this is where we are now. So, if you’re taking advantage of this as one of many opportunities available, and doing it in a way that improves reach, revenue and gives you actionable insights on your overall strategy, you can participate without handing over the power.
Readers: Would you trust Facebook with your content distribution?