Is Facebook Trying to Knock Out Blogging Platforms Medium, WordPress With Notes?

By Justin Lafferty Comment

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 1.29.43 PM

Facebook recently teased a more visually-pleasing test of Notes, its long-ignored blogging format. There has been much speculation that Notes would be the next Facebook tenet to get a facelift, and the recent design test shows that it could be coming soon.

But is the move by Facebook a strike against popular blogging sites such as WordPress, Medium and Blogger? It could be.

Facebook wants you to spend more time on Facebook, not other sites. It has partnered with some publishers for Instant Articles, hosting content directly on Facebook instead of relying on an external link. Facebook has also been giving more weight to videos uploaded directly to the site, not linked from Vimeo or YouTube.

Top brands have taken notice of Facebook’s native play.

Here’s a look at how major brand Facebook pages have chosen to upload video natively, instead of link to a video on YouTube, as provided to Business Insider by Socialbakers:

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Facebook could strive to bring home some of the traffic driven to blogging sites much like the native video push.

Platforms such as Medium (used by prominent tech employees and companies), WordPress and Blogger (owned by Google) have found success by embracing a more visually-pleasing format, with big, bold images and a smooth flow at the forefront.

Facebook has a huge opportunity to make Notes a fully-formed blogging tool. According to data provided to SocialTimes by insight analytics firm SimilarWeb, from January through July of this year Facebook sent more than 49.1 million visits every month (just on desktop) to WordPress. Medium enjoyed a little more than 7 million monthly active visits from Facebook links and Blogger roughly 914,000.

Share of Social Traffic by Network

For WordPress and Medium, Facebook was the primary social driver of traffic, and the second-biggest for Blogger.

You don’t think Facebook would like having some of that traffic back?

Here’s a look at the total pie, in terms of overall desktop traffic of those three sites:

Total Traffic Volumes

Notes, in its current iteration, looks like a format that is stuck in the mid-2000s. It was fine when college students were sharing lists of facts or their favorite movies, but now it can be so much more.

Facebook confirmed to SocialTimes that it is testing a new format for users (but not for brands… yet):

We’re testing an update to Notes to make it easier for people to create and read longer-form stories on Facebook.

There’s a huge opportunity at stake for Facebook, and it could definitely impact users, publishers and brands. Facebook could offer a similar deal to those who rely on video. By posting directly to Notes (even The New York Times has done this, in a pinch) instead of on a blog, those posts could see higher reach and engagement than a link.

Matthew Klein, content manager at Falcon Social, thinks proper utilization of Notes could help brands:

First, it could be a major channel for pieces from company leaders—Linkedin Pulse has proven to be a powerful platform for executives to connect with new audiences and Facebook could promise even more exposure with Notes. Posts about company culture, and communication about businesses’ CSR efforts (like this post from Apple about its forest conservation program, on Medium) could fit very well here too.

I also see it becoming a major site for brands that are investing in longer-form content. There have been a number of interesting campaigns on Medium from brands, like one Marriott created focusing on telling more in-depth stories with enchanting images. It would be natural for any lifestyle brand—companies in travel sector, the food world, home, or design, for example, could be great fit for this type of content. If brands can succeed in telling great stories that grab readers, they may be able to reach a significant audience with Notes.

Readers: How do you feel about the Notes format Facebook is testing?

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