Social Media: What to Like About Facebook’s Recent Changes
With so much news from Apple and Netflix lately, Facebook’s recent changes have flown somewhat under the radar. While most of the focus was on the upgraded news feed and the new Timeline feature, we found the focus on content partnerships – and content monetization to be specific – more intriguing. As this story put it:
Facebook … is where you go to see what your friends are up to. Now it wants to be a force that shapes what you watch, hear, read and buy.
The plan is to orient users to start searching through Facebook, based on the idea that “friends will direct other friends to content.” Said one Forrester analyst:
“It changes the game for what social networks have been doing. What Facebook is saying is, we are your life online, and also how you discover and share.”
This analysis claims that Facebook is on the verge of replacing Google as the “fabric of the Web.”
Interestingly, Facebook won’t get directly into the business of providing media (like music or movies) for users to consume, but rather to become a channel for its partners (including Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, The Washington Post, Yahoo and others) to make the connection.
Everywhere on the site, users will be able to more precisely signal what they are reading, watching, hearing or eating. This will let Facebook reap even more valuable data than it does now about its users’ habits and desires, which in turn can be used to sell more fine-tuned advertising.
In other words, it’s all about the Web analytics – tracking user behavior in terms of how they follow recommendations and convert “likes” across into actual purchases. If you’re going to connect with customers and prospects via the “new Facebook,” you’ll need robust Web analytics capabilities.
Competitively, becoming “a hub for content discovery—places [Facebook] more firmly in opposition to Google,” as this analysis put it. And its partnership with Spotify ups the ante against Apple. From the partners’ point of view, they are banking on more likes and more sharing from Facebook leading to more traffic to their own sites, where they monetize their own content (through ads or subscriptions).
This sort of centralized hub approach does have risks. Some pundits suggest it might lead to more privacy concerns among consumer advocates and drive some frustrated users to Google+. It also raises the dangerous “walled garden” factor. But, it’s interesting to see Facebook continue its strategic evolution – and to do so aggressively. These are bold moves, and an interesting spin on the typical content monetization strategy.
Digital media companies are battling over content ownership (and driving up the price in the meantime), while consumers just want easy and reasonably affordable access to content (no matter who owns it). Facebook may have just made itself a link that no one knew was missing.