How much do you depend on Facebook for traffic? One day, you may depend on it even more, and in ways you didn't even anticipate. The company is reportedly considering getting publishers to give their content directly to Facebook, where it would be hosted by the social network itself (at least for mobile).
Would you give your content to Facebook in exchange for traffic and revenue share? Let us know in the comments.
This is according to The New York Times' David Carr, who warns us that Facebook is a big dog, who may lick us to death (or something). He writes that Facebook has been talking to publishers about this concept, which would involve a revenue share program and publishers forfeiting control and data in the process. Carr writes:
The company has been on something of a listening tour with publishers, discussing better ways to collaborate. The social network has been eager to help publishers do a better job of servicing readers in the News Feed, including improving their approach to mobile in a variety of ways. One possibility it mentioned was for publishers to simply send pages to Facebook that would live inside the social network’s mobile app and be hosted by its servers; that way, they would load quickly with ads that Facebook sells. The revenue would be shared... If Facebook’s mobile app hosted publishers’ pages, the relationship with customers, most of the data about what they did and the reading experience would all belong to the platform. Media companies would essentially be serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns.
From the sound of it, this whole concept is just something that's being kicked around at this point, and isn't inevitable. As Carr notes, other Internet giants including AOL and Google have kicked around similar ideas in the past, which didn't really pan out.
While the idea of giving Facebook that much power over content seems a little scary to a lot of publishers, it could have its benefits. Getting Facebook to send that traffic has been increasingly difficult for many, as the social network continuously adjust its News Feed algorithm, and makes it harder to attain significant reach without paying for promotion.
The concept Carr's report discusses could potentially help increase that reach, while also offering another monetization stream for content that's otherwise not getting as many eyeballs. It's hard to say for sure without knowing more details about Facebook's plan, but in theory, that same content could also continue to live outside of Facebook as normal.
It will be interesting to see how this develops, if it even does. If there isn't a significant advantage for publishers, they simply won't bother. At the same time though, publishers will be watching to see if those involved with such a program start getting preferential treatment in the News Feed.
In terms of social referrals, Facebook drives four times as much traffic to sites as Pinterest, which is its closest rival in that regard. Look at these charts from the latest Shareaholic report on social media referrals.
Facebook traffic is actually doing really well. As you can see from the images above, there's not a whole lot of hope coming from all the other popular social networks, however.
We knew Twitter wasn't nearly on Facebook's level, but it's really going downhill as a driver of traffic. Since September 2013, its share has declined from about 25% to a 13-month low.
YouTube was even the biggest loser in this. It decreased its share of traffic over the past year by a whopping 87.27%.
Google+, which people always like to declare is dying, is actually growing. I suppose that's some shred of hope for generating traffic, but it's so far down on the list in terms of volume that it's not exactly anything to get too excited about. It looks like Pinterest is still your second-best bet for getting social traffic at this point, but Facebook is so far head that it seems like the one you should really be focusing on most.
That means that if Facebook goes through with this hosted content plan, you may seriously want to consider looking into it, and that's likely what Facebook is betting on.