3 Big Questions About Facebook Newswire

The newest chapter in the Twitter–Facebook rivalry is being written by Facebook. Well, technically, it’s being curated.

With a goal of curating and publishing more newsworthy information (think updates on nuclear conflicts rather than updates on nuclear explosions in baby diapers), the social network has paired with Storyful to roll out FB Newswire—a curation of breaking news that users and media organizations have posted to Facebook.

Laura Stampler of TIME reports that the main intention behind the new service is to be a go-to resource for journalists looking for breaking news. (If you think that sounds pretty similar to the role Twitter plays, you’re not alone.)

“FB Newswire is a tool accessible via Facebook that features an updated stream of newsworthy and embeddable public content,” Stampler writes. “This includes photos, videos, and status updates about categories ranging from hard news to lifestyle to celebrity to sports. Journalists can grab that content to use it in their own stories across the web.”

Why is Facebook doing this?

One speculation is that Facebook is angling to get in the good graces of media companies—essentially throwing them a bone. The theory goes that by providing them with a useful, professional service, more media organizations would think highly of the platform and be more willing to invest in distributing content via the platform—both organically and through promoted posts.

At the same time, by providing users with the opportunity to get their news on the platform, Facebook creates more competition for Twitter. If done correctly, Facebook could strengthen its control on the flow of content and social referral traffic on the web, and, yes, beat Twitter. We’ve written extensively about Facebook’s master plan to control the flow of social traffic on the Web.

Who is this really for?

GigaOM reporter Mathrew Ingram addresses an excellent question in his article about FB Newswire: Who benefits more from the Facebook–reporter relationship? Is it the journalist, who is able to find real-time news and content? Or is it Facebook, who gains more exposure and links from news sources who share the stories?

The posts made to FB Newswire are available for anyone to see; so whether you’re a journalist, a marketer, or just a plain-old regular reader you can get and share the news from the platform. This has raised some questions about whether the service is truly meant to be B2B, or if it’s also B2C-friendly. If Facebook truly wanted to make a news service that provides breaking news strictly to journalists, wouldn’t they have made it so regular users would be blocked from getting access?

“Even though it’s being pitched at those in the news industry, the page seems like it would be of more interest to the casual news reader,” writes Terrence O’Brien of Engadget. “It’s not about getting stories to reporters before they become viral sensations, it’s about highlighting the best stories out there—whether they come from a news organization, a personality (such as the president) or a person who just happened to be at the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time). News simply isn’t as new by the time it reaches that scale.”

Will it work?

It seems like almost every week there’s a new feature being launched by a social media site. While many disappear into thin air, others manage to make more of an impact. In its first week, FB Newswire has gotten more than 650,000 likes on Facebook and almost 16,000 followers on its Twitter account, @FBNewswire. Those numbers are paltry compared to Facebook’s 1.3 billion users, but they’re also figures that any news startup would be thrilled to reach in a week. The jury is still out on FB Newswire, but if early returns are any indication, this new idea may change the face of news gathering yet again.

What’s the deal with The Content Strategist? At Contently, storytelling is the only marketing we do, and it works wonders. It could for you, too. Learn more.

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