Mixed blessings: can Facebook Instant and content marketing work together?

Perhaps one of the biggest changes to define content marketing in recent times has been the mindshift among brands that they too can be publishers. Quality objective journalism does not have to be on a magazine or website.

It seems the publishing industry could be coming to this realisation too. Recently Facebook announced Buzzfeed, the New York Times and Guardian are among publications that are testing out the social media giant’s new platform Facebook Instant.

In essence, Instant allows publications to publish articles directly to the site and seems to be aimed primarily at mobile. Among the benefits is greater access to Facebook members, faster downloads of content like video, a title’s ability to design its own portal to suit the title. Importantly, the traffic and the ad revenue go to the title.

And Facebook pays the costs -barring the production of the content itself. It seems like a win-win for Buzzfeed etc — as long as you ignore the fact they’re putting their most valuable asset, i.e. the content, in someone else’s house.

So if content marketing is about brands becoming publishers, how will the sector be affected by Facebook’s move? And bear in mind, if it becomes a success, the likes of Google will undoubtedly follow.

At the moment, this is still a trial. But in a ‘change is good’ scenario, it could be beneficial to content marketing. If Instant becomes the favoured way to consume media, it could provide a one-size fits all solution for brands and publishers.

The only issue is cost. Facebook may be happy to allow the NY Times to use the platform for free on the basis provides a greater reason to interact with the site.

However, it is doubtful brands would be given the same product without a price. If companies applied to use Instant, they could end up having to pay and thus subsidising the service for the likes of the NY Times.

At the same time, if this is to be the case, and let’s assume it is, and then brands could still get something out of it.

Like many of the publications, one difficulty for brands has been accessing Facebook newsfeeds. A Facebook member could ‘like’ to a company’s Facebook profile, but it is unlikely that person will see its posts. If you want to be read, pay Facebook and they will boost your the number of views.

One thing is also certain. Companies will always be able to publish on their own sites and print publications. There is a line of thought that Instant could turn into a more evolved version of Outbrain, albeit one with more bells and whistles.

One thing you can say about Facebook, it is strong in terms of what it can offer technically. This will increase as content becomes more diverse. If you want to use video or push through its mobile app then you will be able to display a range of content that is difficult to integrate on many company sites. This could mean video but even extend to web applications.

The desktop is still a big forum for showcasing content. But if mobile and tablets take more of the market, there is a case to take an approach to content marketing where you can use more than just text.

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