Facebook is beginning to show their hand regarding their overall plan related to users, brands and content. Many consumer brands are now quite entrenched within the Facebook platform with pages, video, and graphics are continuing to change how brands utilize the web and specifically social media as well as Facebook itself for marketing. However, it is important that you also realize that what has changed appears to be a very specific path that will also begin to impact B2B, Startup and SaaS brands on another level and this all starts with Facebook Instant Articles.
Facebook hasn’t been known as a standout effective platform for B2B in the past, leaving that to LinkedIn and to some extent Twitter and a few other platforms. Outside of the marketing, consulting and social media professional niche spaces, most startup, small through mid-market business to business brands have avoided active Facebook business pages and advertising focus on Facebook to reach and convert their business audiences. This has (up until now) largely made sense for many B2B brands, as the Facebook social platform has not been an incredibly effective tool for them. Though this hasn’t been 100% true for all business brands, as there have been niche exceptions for marketing professionals, consultants and other B2B niches that focus on smaller businesses, for the most part Facebook has been more known for consumer brand marketing.
Seen as its biggest rival, Google is seriously beating Facebook in search. In fact, the social network giant doesn’t even really have an effective search platform that can really help users discover what they are looking for. Why is that? Well, it might be far easier to understand than you might think. Facebook currently lacks a deep open web index of content. Though the largest social network also sees the most number of shares of content, the fact is that 90%+ of the content posted on Facebook actually resides somewhere else. So Facebook doesn’t actually have the content within their platform, or their index.
Is Facebook Building For Search?
“Though I don’t believe Facebook can or is trying to become THE internet, I believe what we are seeing right now is the beginnings of their fundamental transformation to directly take on Google for search eyeballs and more important search revenue.”
The next step for Facebook to take, that would provide them with substantial user feature expansion, ad platform growth, scalable increase in revenue PLUS a broader inclusion of B2B brands, is unequivocally Facebook SEARCH. I predict right here and now that the new Instant Articles platform that Facebook is rolling out will be the precursor to the next big feature we will see from Facebook within the next 6-12 months.
I strongly believe that Facebook is rapidly and quietly building behind the scenes a competing global content, page and video search platform designed to take on Google at their own game. If you think about it and consider everything Facebook has been releasing over the past several months and years, they all point to Facebook search being their next big focus.
A Facebook Search Platform?
As I have stated, there is really one area that Google still can dominate their rival Facebook. The Facebook model is focused on keeping users within their platform and presenting in feed advertisements to those users. One of the first steps toward their coming search feature was to get content creators to natively upload video content to their platform, which has been successful. We all know the impact Facebook has had on video and mobile video consumption.
The next step for Facebook to be able to provide a unique search platform would be to get content publishers to natively publish their blog and other written content directly into their platform, just like video. Facebook Instant Articles is addressing that specific issue. This will enable Facebook to index, control and manage video and blog content search right within their platform, making a very effective search capability much more feasible and effective.
With video, graphic and written content all residing within the Facebook ecosystem, the groundwork will have been laid to enable the social network to perform searches right within their platform. If users leave the platform, they can’t throw ads and sponsored content to them, which represents a massive opportunity Facebook will soon capitalize on. And since we know that their model is to keep users within their platform as much as possible, a new Facebook search function would do just that. Users will no longer need to leave the social network to conduct searches on Google, but would easily be able to find pages, videos and other content right inside Facebook itself. Thus keeping them where they can be monitized.
Yes, I am very aware that Facebook currently has a search function, but if you’ve ever used it, you know it is nothing resembling what Google does for the open web. A revamped and totally new Facebook search function is not only needed within the platform, it is THE clear next progression for the company. Instant articles will give them a huge advantage of in-platform content that users can discover and consume without leaving, and a massive new revenue stream that would compete with Google directly.
Facebook partnering with WordPress to create a plugin that is expected to automatically publish blog content to Facebook Instant Articles immediately from your blog is beyond interesting. It says that Facebook isn’t playing around and intends on gaining traction with content publishers quickly by making it easy for them to be involved. This fact also makes me more certain than ever that a Facebook search play is in the works.
What A New Facebook Search Means To Business
Facebook Instant Articles combined with a Facebook search function to compete with Google, I believe will be the biggest change to content marketing and search we have seen in over a decade. Whether you are a consumer brand or a B2B, a startup or a SaaS application business, your brand will need to focus additional attention toward Facebook like never before.
Not only will Brands need to be creating content for their blogs at higher rates in the coming months and years, but now you will need to be publishing that content to Facebook as well. You will also need to be watching the changes to search and content optimization as all of this unfolds. Furthermore, both B2C and B2B brands are going to have to reevaluate their Facebook business page strategy and resource allocation to keep up with these impending Facebook changes. The sooner you are making thoughtful adjustments to your digital marketing and content marketing and Facebook strategies ahead of what Facebook is doing, the more effective your brand will be at content marketing and search moving forward.
What do you think about a possible Facebook search that competes with Google?
I think you are right on! I never thought I would say this (2 years ago) but Facebook presence is imperative. It is getting so posh that keeping up with it is a full time job for us. The fact they are partnering with WordPress is scary good. I have always been an advocate of keeping control of your content (forums will never die, IMO)…making sure you create that content inyour hub and share from there so that you get that reciprocity and traffic back to your mother ship. But as we get closer to the innevitable, we will have to double whammy into this platform too. At the end, what we want is to be able to be part of the best search engine. Facebook is not be the best BUT if they create an UX irresistible to the masses, and they focus their efforts on other types of search we cant get with Google and others, we become part of the grid and there is nothing we can do about it but keep duplicates and serve two masters (them and us). I believe in having your own town around your niche. Articles with the ability to build a community around them and keeping all that data within your systems is what we have always called Forums. That is where we are heading to. See to believe.
Indeed. Times are constantly changing and this one will be the monster of all changes. Will be interesting to watch this unfold. Thank you for your input
I thought for sure your article was going to be about the death of blogs thanks to Instant Articles on Facebook. You went way deeper, if what you say happens, then the next few years are going to be very interesting online!
Quite the opposite Randy. I think blogs just got more important for many reasons and are going to be critical for all businesses on Facebook now as well, but B2B brands that often ignore Facebook, will also have to make some hard adjustments. Indeed the next few years are going to be interesting! :-)
I use Facebook search. But usually leave it after a few tries. I even prefer site:facebook.com over FB’s search. I agree that if this occurs, it will change the landscape…but not sure how good that will be.
The Chicago River is part of the infrastructure of the city. People, places, and products were created around that infrastructure. The river wasn’t able to handle the sewage created by the population growth. So they reversed the flow of the river. On the surface it works. But a study 100 years later shows that there is also a ‘river under the river’ that still flows in the other direction. There are issues this flow has caused, and will continue to cause. The current residents ‘go with the flow’. But if the river had its’ choice, it would flow in the other direction. All natural disasters have proven that we simply are powerless in the face of nature. Perception is only reality until the real powers show their stuff. The real power in this arena isn’t the technology. It’s the users. Their perception of what they can anticipate from the technology better match up with reality. If Facebook’s efforts into search go the way of Google’s foray into social… it will diminish user trust. Just think about Google Orkut, Jaiku, Wave, Buzz, Latitude, Plus, and more. Their core survived it, but trust in ANY other arena is low, IMHO. They appear to lack the intestinal fortitude to complete the transition. Ironically, I may have to end this with “I guess I made this clear as mud!” :-)
Thanks for the tip on Instant Articles.
lol There’s no question that Google completely failed at social. Their arrogance and lack of understanding of what social networks are and how they are used as social media, were a few reasons. In Facebook’s case however, they continue to beat Google at their non-core business game. Messenger, video, etc. This will continue, because Facebook understands social to a certain degree, or at least enough to make it work.
You are correct that the current FB search is worthless. That is why I believe Instant Articles is positioning Facebook to develop a usable search that will keep users within their platform, deliver similar search results to Google and result in the kind of revenue streams that will make them unstoppable by Google. It is inevitable.
Google doesn’t have the content they index on their system, either. Facebook’s search stinks, but so does Google’s. Facebook’s search currently isn’t meant to find content, but to find pages and users, so the advanced options are more about searching profile attributes.
Sadly, Facebook is trying to be the Internet. In India it’s actually an option to get access to Facebook only on mobile and it’s typically free.
Yes, Josh. I mention that Facebook currently has a search and is not what I am referring to next. I am also aware that Google’s index is not content on their network, but from the open web, however what Facebook is creating will be that and a unique advantage.