Facebook: The Gateway to News

Heather Fernandez / May 19, 2015

Last week Facebook announced Instant Articles, the company’s first major partnership with publishers to bring news to the masses in a fast and seemingly beautiful way. This new feature, which will pilot with publishers such as The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, NBC and The Atlantic, will include interactive media, photography and visual aids to bring storytelling to life.

The evolution of media and how we consume it has always been fascinating to me. The one constant theme spanning the decades has been this: How fast and easy can I get my news?

The data doesn’t lie. Consumers are growing increasingly impatient and distracted when it comes to consuming media, on any platform. Publishers have had to move from paper to web and from web to mobile and now from mobile to pure social media.

This move on Facebook’s part is also an attempt to officially put their mark on the news media landscape. Many studies have proven that consumers are spending more and more time on social media and are sharing and receiving news through these platforms – in some cases exclusively. Up until know, your friends and curated social networks played the publisher, busying your News Feed with links to “relevant” stories (Read: all the cat videos you can stomach). Facebook’s algorithms also played a part in what you did and didn’t see on there.

Now, with Instant Articles, Facebook is working with publishers to deliver hyper-visual content at an ever faster rate. So far publishers are excited and eager to participate, citing that this provides them with an entirely new avenue in reaching their target audiences.

What does this mean for PR professionals? Well to start, we already know that content rich stories and those with strong visuals get the most viewership and help a journalist envision how the story will take shape. Given the visual nature of Facebook and how quickly a potential reader can scan through their newsfeed, pitches to outlets should continue to be strong in this area.

But what about Facebook controlling what readers see and consume? Time will tell. But if history shows us anything, storytellers, journalists and the like will have to adapt to Facebook’s ever-evolving ways.