Facebook Moves To Enter The Top News Media

  • Facebook launched Signal, a free news discovery and curation tool for journalists.
  • Signal includes tools for automatically embedding news related content from Facebook and Instagram in news stories.
  • The launch follows other media initiatives including Instant Articles, which allows media companies to publish stories directly on Facebook.
  • Facebook is also gearing up to become a top player in online video distribution.
  • Facebook is marching on traditional media at full speed.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) isn't satisfied with being the top social network. It appears that the Internet giant wants to enter the top news media as well. The launch of Signal, a free news discovery and curation tool for journalists, is the latest indication of Facebook's media ambitions.

"We’re excited to introduce Signal, for Facebook and Instagram, a free discovery and curation tool for journalists who want to source, gather, and embed newsworthy content from Facebook and Instagram, across news, culture, entertainment, sports, and more," notes the Facebook announcement authored by  Andy Mitchell, Director of Media Partnerships at Facebook. Mitchell added that the move follows the launch of Facebook Mentions for Profiles as one more step in Facebook's push to offer useful services to the media.

Saying that Facebook is the top social network is very much of an understatement. Actually, Facebook - which recently had one billion users in a single day - is for all practical purposes the only social network that matters. In July, the company reported in its Q2 earnings that it had about 1.5 billion people logging on at least once a month.

Many companies, small and large, tried to challenge Facebook's total leadership in social networking, but none succeeded. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) itself had big hopes that its own social network Google+ could compete with Facebook, but Google+ never came even close to Facebook’s popularity, and is still a desert compared to the crowded Facebook meeting point. Recently, Google gave indications that it might be giving up on Google+. With no effective competitors in the social network space, Facebook is diversifying and marching into other sectors at full speed.

Registered journalists will use Signal to monitor trending topics and find relevant and timely content that has been shared publicly by any Facebook user and Pages, without needing to friend, follow or "like" the source, with search functionality. Similarly, journalists working on news stories will be able to quickly find relevant pictures and videos that have been publicly shared on Instagram - the popular picture sharing service that Facebook acquired in 2012 for $1 billion.

The Signal killer app is the possibility to automatically curate Facebook and Instagram content for news gathering and packaging. "Every Facebook post, every Instagram image or video, and every metric found in Signal can be easily saved into custom collections for later use in a downstream CMS [Content Management System] for digital writers or for integration with broadcast graphics packages for broadcast teams."

This is really a major step forward in Facebook’s continued efforts to become a major hub for news discovery, notes TechCrunch. "By giving journalists more effective tools to use the site to discover content and embed it in their stories, Facebook is building up a symbiotic relationship with publications that may grow to see more of the actual articles being published entirely on Facebook through initiatives like Instant Articles and those that follow it."

Facebook's recently launched project Instant Articles allows media companies to publish stories directly to Facebook. Instant Articles, powered by the efficient Facebook platform, will substantially reduce load times, especially for mobile users, and give publishers access to a much broader audience. The publishers will keep 100 percent of revenue brought in from ads that they sell and 70 percent for ads sold by Facebook, a win-win deal which can bring more money to both publishers and Facebook.

Google and other partners including Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) are launching initiatives in competition with Instant Article, Fortune reported last week, but so far Facebook has been unbeatable when it comes to social media.

Facebook is also gearing up to become a top player in online video distribution. The social network recently announced platform updates aimed at video publishers, and upcoming support for 3D spherical video on both the Web and smartphone apps. Of course, video advertising is a main commercial target for Facebook's video push.

In summary, Facebook is launching an organic set of media initiatives to become a top traditional media group by leveraging its unique position in social media. If recent history is any guide, Facebook's push to become a top player in news media is likely to be successful and will boost Facebook stock price.

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