Last Tuesday, at its F8 conference in the United States, Facebook made available Instant Articles, the initiative where publishers can post content and have it hosted on the social network, to any publisher from around the world.
Instant Articles was introduced last year after rampant speculation. Publishers including BuzzFeed, The Guardian and the BBC took part in the initiative, however it came with questions as to Facebook’s overall relationship with the publishers.
At the time of its release, it started a new way for journalists and news organisations to get their content out there, but also at the same time, a new way for audiences to consume media, in an age where younger audiences in particular are being exposed to a media driven by screens, especially with mobile, and pieces are being shared every hour of every day.
Yet, at the same time, it signalled a change in the relationship between social media and the business of journalism itself. With the introduction of Instant Articles to every publisher in the UK and around the world, it has become a relationship with mutual benefits, with benefits for the organisations that decide to take part and for the social networks themselves.
Content whenever you want it
For Facebook, journalism has become the focal epicentre of the future of its business. Instant Articles’ availability to publishers around the world comes alongside the recent rollout of Facebook Live.
— Journalism.co.uk (@journalism) March 21, 2016
Yet, this is not exclusive to just Facebook. From the introduction late last year of Moments on Twitter, to the Discover platform on Snapchat, these platforms have become hubs for content.
Whether it is a piece on David Cameron and his tax issues, or a piece about Britain’s Got Talent, you will find these pieces not just on news organisation’s web sites themselves, but on social media, ready for your reading pleasure. All you have to do is click your mouse or tap on your phone, and there it is, alongside all of those cat memes and the reminder of that contest to win tickets to Radio 1’s Big Weekend for you and your mates.
It appears to be a win-win situation for everyone involved – publishers get the revenue from adverts and traffic generated from those pieces, Facebook and other social platforms can increase their user base to allow access to this content, and users themselves can find more ways to get access to this content and share it as they see fit.
New consuming trend
However, it signals a new trend in how we will be consuming journalism in the future. Not only will we be able to access journalism through regular means (radio, TV, newspaper, web site), but we will also see Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others continue to rise as platforms alongside them. No matter what time it is, no matter what platform you’re on, that information will be there, whether you want to see it or not.
When it comes to engaging audiences and retaining users, content is king. As a result, journalism has now become a fundamental component into how the business of social media will work in the future. While it confirms the necessity for journalists irrespective of platform, it also will give a constant into how much information and news we can access.
The business of journalism has been replicated as a core part of the business of Facebook and other platforms. Ultimately, it will be down to how you, the user, will respond.
What do you think? How has social media impacted how you consume journalism? Have your say in the comments section below.