Facebook has become one of the biggest sources for news for many people. Every day, we get fresh content fed to us by our friends, brands we follow, bands we like and myriad other pages and people. But it’s never quite got the better of Twitter when it comes to breaking the big stories.
Facebook wants in on this action – more than ever before. With this in mind, it launched FB Newswire. In the words of Andy Mitchell (Director, News and Global Media Partnerships at Facebook), FB Newswire is “a resource that will make it easier for journalists and newsrooms to find, share and embed newsworthy content from Facebook in the media they produce.”
“This will include original photos, videos and status updates posted by people on the front lines of major events like protests, elections and sporting events.”
To power this, Facebook has partnered with Storyful (“the world’s first social news agency”), which will be providing the back-end discovery and verification power. It’s not been disclosed just how Storyful works within the back-end of FB Newswire, but it’s interesting to see Facebook shortcut the potential development time of creating its own software by partnering up with someone. It’s also worth noting that Storyful is owned by News Corp – something that was mysteriously left out of the announcement.
According to Mashable, Storyful “will use an algorithm to find popular and breaking news stories on Facebook in categories like sports, entertainment, tech and politics. Storyful will then follow up on these stories using human verification from its journalism team before surfacing that content on FB Newswire.”
The biggest and immediately visible plus of FB Newswire from the PR/journalist angle is that it’s another earned media avenue to take advantage of, and at a time when Facebook is moving towards operating as a straight-up advertising platform, it could represent a sliver of hope for ‘organic’ exposure. It also offers another source for journalists to quickly grab rich content to enhance stories they’re already working on.
Your new criteria
What does this mean for those of us producing content who want it to be shared in high volumes, and therefore be in with a shot at getting featured on FB Newswire? Well, you’re going to have to dance to Facebook’s tune at least a little bit when creating it.
PR Daily’s coverage of the announcement listed four ‘keys’ to making it more likely that your content will feature on FB Newswire:
- “Understand your fans and their preferences. Analyse the last several months of your brand’s Facebook posts, and notice what sort of content drew the most unique users and total interactions.”
- “Build content that appeals to them. Instead of simply posting press releases to Facebook, go to school on your Facebook Insights data, and develop unique posts highlighting the messages most likely to resonate with your FB audience.”
- “Utilise multiple visual images. Most Facebook posts contain a visual, and the effectiveness of visual content on social channels is well documented.”
- “Share on Facebook (and encourage broader social sharing). Sharing is one of the most powerful signals of content quality, and broad sharing of your message across Facebook and other social networks will be a key factor in garnering FB Newswire pickup.”
Also mentioned were the stock suggestions of compelling headlines, bullet points, using visuals and embedding social sharing buttons. All things you no doubt already knew, but will clearly become increasingly important if you want to encourage your news to ‘break’ on Facebook and achieve traction via FB Newswire.
What do people think?
Opinion is divided on whether FB Newswire is a good thing or merely more to ignore for most of us – as these comments from coverage on PR Daily show:
“The idea is good enough — sorting news based on whether its target audience is engaged enough to promote it — but it fails to inspire because it is limited to one site, Facebook. Social media is more than just Facebook.”
“You act like you’re the customer; you’re really the feedstock. Once you have that perspective, everything makes more sense.”
“At what point do we say enough is enough of helping a billion dollar company grow on the backs of its users?”
– Sailboat Scotty
It’s worth remembering that the average user isn’t the target audience for FB Newswire – it’s aimed squarely at journalists – but there’s nothing stopping people from following it on Facebook and Twitter if they want another, more socially-derived news source. And make no mistake, the audience for FB Newswire is growing, with 70,000+ likes at the time of writing, despite the low levels of interaction on individual pieces of content.
“News is finding a bigger audience on Facebook than ever before,” says Andy Mitchell. “Journalists and media organisations have become an integral part of Facebook.” With moves like FB Newswire, it’s clear that Facebook is betting on this being the case for some time to come.