College Media / industry news / social media

Facebook's changes and college media: appification on the way?

Some of the biggest news in social media the past two days has been the announcement by Facebook of a whole passel of new features, changes to their interface, and ways for news media to interact with the Facebook mob of users (now around 700 million).

There’s more coverage in the tech blogging/press universe than I could possibly link to, although I’m including some links at the bottom of this post if you’re interested.

photo via GigaOm

The big change for users will be the Timeline. But for media operations, the big change is in the application space. Several large media outlets – Washington Post and the Guardian UK among them – debuted new “social reading” applications. These applications allow you to read articles within the Facebook interface and then notify your Facebook acquaintances as to what you’ve been reading.

Now why do I think this is going to be important for college media? Perhaps an illustration is in order. I’ll pick on a large media outlet like The State News at Michigan State.

Let’s say they develop a Facebook app like the ones listed above. Facebook users can then allow that app to hop into their newsfeed (or whatever they’re calling it this week at Facebook). When one of The State News’ readers reads an article in Facebook, a link to that article will be shared with that user’s friends, which may push more readers into The State News app, and bring in a wider connection to the paper’s online content.

From what I’ve read, the media outlets are able to sell advertising in the app outside Facebook’s advertising platform (from the Guardian story above), so there’s added value for online advertisers.

And as much as I talk about developing web sites, it’s pretty obvious that a huge number of college students spend a lot of time in Facebook. And getting content in front of college students’ eyes (especially online) is always a challenge when college newspaper readership remains committed to the print edition.

Will college media outlets do this? It’s too early to tell. I’m aware of some outlets that have been using Facebook pages for a social media presence. This is a slightly different paradigm, and totally new on the radar. But I’ve already seen information on my FB page about what articles people are reading on the Washington Post Social Reader. It’s worth experimenting with, at least, as a way to expand the reach of your digital footprint.

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