There’s a referral traffic goldmine on Facebook, and today 13 more news outlets are staking their claim. The Daily Show, MSNBC, Buzzfeed, and The Huffington Post are launching Facebook Open Graph reader and video watching apps today or soon, Facebook just announced.
By automatically publishing stories back to the Facebook Ticker, Timeline, and News Feed, these apps will hope to score the same traffic boosts attained by The Washington Post, Yahoo, and Digg. However, they’ll also need to provide “mark as unread / unwatched” options to let users curate what they share.
Soon when you watch a Daily Show video clip of Jon Stewart exposing lying politicians, you won’t have to copy the URL and paste it into the Facebook publisher or search for a Like button. After granting publishing permission to The Daily Show’s dedicated Facebook app or Facebook-integrated website, your media consumption will be published automatically unless you opt out.
The new apps range across platforms, with CBS Local New York running as a website integration, while Pixable provides news about photos your friends upload via its mobile app.
Just a few months after Facebook launched its “frictionless sharing” Open Graph application platform in September, it’s proving a valuable asset for news outlets and other services. Yahoo reported it was seeing 500,000 referrals a day from its Facebook reader app. Now over 2 million articles are auto-shared from Yahoo to Facebook each day.
Some believe these Open Graph apps pump Facebook full of noise because content isn’t explicitly shared. Consumption activity is instead published to Facebook instantly and automatically as soon as a user clicks through a link to an article or video.
I disagree. By sharing reading activity data with Facebook, it can create compelling news feed stories like “5 friends read article X”. I can also get a deeper sense of a friend’s identity by delving into their reading history on their Timeline. Facebook still has work to do on refining this algorithm, but eventually it could surface the media consumption trends of your friends, even if knowing just 1 friend read an article would be boring.
There is the potential for spam and incentivization of sensational headlines, but publishers can choose to reduce this risk by providing a “private reading mode” or prominent “mark as unread” buttons. Some apps like The Guardian make it easy to excise media consumption activity stories from Facebook, while apps like News Corp’s The Daily don’t provide unshare buttons, degrading the user experience and exploiting Facebook to grab some extra page views.
I urge the new publishers joining Open Graph to make unsharing simple. If users are confident they can click links to your apps and unshare an article they disagree with or a video they don’t enjoy, they’ll click more often. Otherwise you might drive up referral traffic while driving your reputation into the ground.
Here’s the full list of new Open Graph media apps:
▪ CBS Local: Los Angeles and New York
▪ The Daily Show
▪ Huffington Post
▪ MTV News
▪ Sporting News (launching in March)
▪ TODAY Show