Friday, December 14, 2012

Fade out of friction-less sharing

Guardian is quietly shutting down its Facebook social reader app.  If you remember, social reader app is the app that shares what you are reading with your friends automatically.  It's akin to tracking every article that you read through social reader app, and publishing the log to all your friends.  When it first started, I posted my criticism about this "friction-less sharing."

After about a year of experimenting, Guardian is ending the social reader app program.  The reason is obvious.  As GigaOM reported, it's because Guardian realized that 1) they didn't control how their content was delivered to their end users, and 2) user experience happened all within Facebook even when user is reading a Guardian content.

At one point Facebook social reader was generating more referral than Google.

And it came crashing down when Facebook stopped showing
the spammy social reading posts on our news feed.

It brings up interesting points for all content creators on the web.

For instance, when I blog, it gets automatically posted to Facebook Page and Twitter using NetworkedBlogs.  But  the reach and clicks generated from the Facebook Page has been shrinking from earlier highs.  Since early this year, the number has been going down steadily, and it has come down more than 60%.  It looks like each time Facebook tweaks its EdgeRank algorithm, content creator gets the shorter end of the stick, and there is not much content creator can do, other than paying for the Facebook reach.

But that's not all.  Facebook has been monopolizing the content reading experience as well.  By providing social reader app, Facebook kept the user on its platform while serving the content in the name of tracking the user clicks, and providing social experience of reading articles with friends.

About the only thing that content creator got in return was reports.  How many users are active using the app, what type of content were popular among readers, which demographics were reading the content, and perhaps the most important, which is tracking who actually read the article.

Granted that tracking readership by first name is important.  But I don't think that it justifies the cost of not controlling their content subscription delivery and having to cobrand the content reading experience with Facebook.

One thing is for sure.  Reaching the audience through Facebook is getting more expensive.  This must mean opportunity for Google+.

No comments:

Post a Comment