Facebook launches Journalist page but can it really become better than Twitter for news stories?

I read a great post on the launch of a new page Facebook has launched called Journalists on Facebook. It is Facebook’s attempt to get more journalists using Facebook rather than Twitter but I have my reservations with this as an overall concept. Journalists on Facebook

Firstly, I would like to point out that Facebook is brilliant at what it offers to a page admin because you can share a wider range of content with your likes/followers and you can get statistics from a page through its insights section. Add this to the recent upgrades for commenting on pages and the offer is much better than it once was.

Secondly, in Facebook you can also build up a relationship and encourage your community to get involved and help create something exciting around a particular topic. This has proved really successful for campaigns that need profile such as missing people etc. However, that said I still feel that Twitter is better for spreading news quickly. Why?

Twitter is completely focussed on being completely focussed. In other words its users post short tit bits of news and links that followers can then share quickly and efficiently.

Twitter users can share several updates during a day without annoying their followers. In fact, many people prefer it, Facebook Pages on the other hand should only really be updated around once or twice a day, depending on how you are managing the community. If you update a page too much you could find yourself losing likes. Worse still, your likes/fans (what do we call them these days?) could just hide your posts from their newsfeeds altogether because they see them as being too regular and intrusive. Because they see Facebook as a pleasure not business. So you feel like you are engaging with a huge wider audience when actually you are only communicating to yourself – sound familiar?

Now Facebook has a much bigger global audience, we all know that but I would ask “Are these users news hounds like those on Twitter?” because I don’t think they are. I think a lot of people on Facebook are on their to stay in touch with their families etc not to hear what’s happening in the mainstream news.

The Facebook page in question does have almost 40,000 likes, at the time of writing, so people do (pardon the pun) like it but do I see a time when people will get their news first from a page like this? Not really – the only way I think Facebook can do this is by widening how people can find this news and make it easier to receive regular news from pages without it being intrusive – possibly a new algorithm for the newsfeed for people like us newshounds. Another way to improve would be to create an easy to use application especially for journalists to use for news to get and share news.

I think these two channels have two very different audiences and are used for two very different purposes. What do you think? Can Twitter become the number one resource for news? I welcome your views.

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8 comments on “Facebook launches Journalist page but can it really become better than Twitter for news stories?
  1. Hi Chris,

    You’re right about different audiences. When Facebook and Twitter – and blogging, and YouTube, and Flickr, and LinkedIn and all those other guys – started up, we really didn’t know how things would pan out. But today it generally seems to be that Twitter is good for news, and Facebook is generally good for personal comms and maybe B2C.

    Audiences can change, it’s true. But I just wonder whether it’s a bit late in the day for Facebook to start adopting the role of news channel – and whether it can actually do it.

    Why? Because Twitter is open. You can freely follow people, unfollow them, use different clients such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite with them, use their API to make funky new apps and visualisations. Heck, it even still has good old fashioned RSS. Who’d have thought?

    But Facebook is still largely a walled garden. OK, so it’s opening up a bit, but on the whole it anticipates a model where, instead of a web with Facebook in it, we’ve got Facebook with apps inside it that are growing as complex as websites nowadays.

    I don’t like it. The web wasn’t meant to be like this. It was meant to be resilient, free and open. Even Tim Berners-Lee thinks so (http://robert.accettura.com/blog/2011/03/27/the-web-as-we-know-it-is-being-threatened/). One day Facebook will crash, and then we’ll all be sorry.

    So yes, I think I’m in agreement. If Facebook wants to change its audience, it needs to change its stance. Journalists in particular depend on freedom to be able to do their jobs properly. As far as I can see, Twitter offers that freedom. Facebook does not.

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  3. Chris
    I hear too many discussions among organisations that go something like: “we need to be on Facebook” without thinking why or how it’s going to help them. Similarly, I wonder whether Facebook considers that by leveraging its colossal audience it has the potential to be all things to all people.
    I think Facebook has proven itself as the place to be to enjoy what your nearest and dearest are sharing online, plus being a place to indulge your interests. But I’m not convinced that it crosses over well into the professional side of our lives.

  4. Good points and well made Brendan. Facebook is a walled garden and I totally agree that the internet was meant to be open not closed. I also agree about these new apps are making it even more complicated when it really shouldn’t be.

    @Jon I totally agree – I don’t think people want to be sold to in Facebook they want a consumer fun experieince. Twitter just is slightly different. I also have some concerns over spam within linked-in but we can save that one for another day.

    I think Facebook opening up more would be a good thing Mark Z and Co should look at that first.

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  6. Facebook may have a global userbase of 500 million + users, but it clearly feels threatened on some level by the other fish in the social networking sea. Not only has it launched Journalists on Facebook to try and attract the media away from Twitter, but we now also have the option to post a “Question” (Quora anyone?) and to ‘check in’ at various locations when using the Facebook mobile app – a pretty blatant attempt to copy foursquare. How long can Facebook continue bolting on new features before we start to lose the streamlined experience which originally tempted people away from MySpace?

  7. Having worked both as a journalist and a PR, I find the Facebook site to be very ineffective compared with Twitter.

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I can’t remember any news breaking on Twitter but I can name stories like the Hudson plane crash, Michael Jackson’s death and a number of earthquakes which broke on Twitter independent of any forced networking.

    Journalists are often working to tight deadlines and need instant help or copy. Facebook is not normally an application open all the time in the background like Twitter can be.

    You can’t search for hastags like #journorequests, you have to invest time. It might help long lead feature journalists, but even they need to latch on to key trends and hot topics.

    This is also a club for journalists and PRs, its not an open environment where Joe Public might wander in and get involved like Twitter.

    Facebook can be a good research tool for certain strains of journalism but this page doesn’t help.

    I’d see the Facebook site as a challenge to someone like Gorkana rather than twitter. The mistake is to try and “me too” a different medium. It’s like equating the News at Ten to the Daily Mail. Both offer a news service, but the reason for consuming the information is very different.

  8. It’s not an either/or proposition. To fully engage and get maximum exposure for content, journalists need to be on both Facebook & Twitter. That Facebook is putting some resource behind training journalists in how best to use the platform has to be a good thing.

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