As you probably know, Facebook has launched the newest version of their Facebook Platform last week at their third F8 conference. This new platform “puts people at the center of the web” and boosts personalization while making websites more social. On the Facebook blog, you can even see an example of how they are leveraging the new personalized Facebook tools to display the most popular news from their blog:
This is a glimpse to how the new platform can be used to display popular content … but will this new fangled connectivity change the current social news format?
The current social news scene
Right now Digg, Reddit and Fark are the largest sources for social news, each of which serve very different content to very diverse audiences. These sites have millions of users and generate hundreds of thousands of page views each day to those articles that have become popular. Currently, they work loosely on the following model:
- User submits an interesting article with a title.
- Users of the site (or in some cases a moderator) choose what they like by voting (or approving), those with the highest number of votes become popular.
This new Facebook platform bypasses the first step of the current social news process (submissions) and lets users ‘like’ something directly from the article itself. Will this be the apocalypse to these networks? Not likely. These sites thrive off of their active passionate communities, and fresh content.
Many times, the comments and interaction on the social sites far outnumber that of the actual content because of this audience. However, these new Facebook platform changes may affect the way that social news sites will operate in the future.
How the current social news sites are changing
While the current social news leader, Digg, has approximately 3 million estimated users, Facebook dwarfs it with over 400 million. Digg has already started to harness the power of “the ‘Book” by integrating with Facebook Connect and has a Facebook application that synchronizes with your profile. Digg is looking for even more social unity though, and is in the process of a totally new version of the site.
The company revealed tidbits of information as to the coming changes to Digg that will help to integrate Facebook even more along with other areas of the social web like Twitter. Early information from the upcoming redesign talks about and how they are going to be more real-time, while empowering their users (again) by having a top contributor leaderboard.
Changes like this that bring more outside users to the site while cultivating the current user base, could solidify the future of social news sites like Digg and help ward off the new Facebook Platform.
Where will Facebook be in all this?
The new Facebook Platform with its 400 million users, has unbelievable potential in the news space simply because their audience towers above all other social networks. The sheer number of users makes sense to aggregate members “likes” into a centralized location for news.
Even more, the fact that Facebook will have the ability to get a “current profile” with this new information will give them the ability to deliver unparalleled personalized social news. It’s hard to tell where this new platform will go in the future of news, but the possibilities that Facebook have opened up are virtually endless.
What can I do to help with this now?
The answer is simple, build your presence on Facebook … as quickly as you can. The larger the audience that you have, the more possibilities you have in getting your content seen, and liked by users which could play a part of future news initiatves.
Facebook is putting out a lot of tools like Insights for Your Domain, a Developer Section for Social Plugins and Showcases of Current Implementations to help you find what can work for your site, so test them out and see what works.
Also, don’t forget that he current social news sites are king, and far and away the best way to get your content seen; so don’t stop targeting these current sites while building that Facebook presence.
While it is still too soon to tell how this will affect the social news scene, allocating resources to build your Facebook presence now should set yourself up for optimal success in any upcoming Facebook revolution!