Let newsmakers embed your content and they’ll look to you for material, likely publish more to you, and you’ll have more content to advertise against. That’s why Facebook today begins allowing “public” posts to be embedded on third-party sites, a strategy pioneered by Twitter in 2010 and recently copied by Instagram. Embedding is slated for a full roll out, but for now you can get preview on five sites.
Bleacher Report, CNN, Huffington Post, Mashable and People are the first sites to be allowed to embed Facebook posts, but soon the drop-down arrow on news feed and Timeline posts will include an “Embed” option that lets you copy the HTML into any site or blog. That’s still a bit clunky, considering some sites like WordPress can render Twitter embeds from simply pasting in a tweet’s permalink.
These embeds will come with all the bells and whistles. You can embed posts with text, pictures, or videos; Like and comment, Follow public figures, Like Pages, and click hashtags to go back to Facebook and see related material.
Facebook is going safe and conservative with embeds by only allowing public posts to be pasted off-site. Of course, a fair amount of people post publicly without realizing it so you might end up seeing some funny Tumblrs of embeds of idiotic Facebook posts with no privacy locks. It all means Facebook will need to do an even better job of communicating how privacy controls work.
Why do embeds matter enough for Facebook to open them from Instagram earlier this month and from its own site today? You can tell from Facebook alerting users to the embeds documentation, “which also has best practices for finding high quality public posts on Facebook to embed.”
Similar to Facebook’s embeddable Like button (which was in turn copied by Twitter with its Tweet button), a basic goal is to increase its footprint on the web and create more in-roads to its site. But there’s a longer-term vision here, too. If it can become a popular source of content for newsmakers, they’ll spend more time combing it and may publish their own work and commentary to it more frequently in hopes of getting embedded. Similar to how Facebook courts third-party app developers in the hope that they’ll contribute content, Facebook wants more interesting stuff in the news feed it can show ads next to.
The move comes as Facebook increasingly tries to embrace the idea of public content despite its origins in private sharing. The launch of hashtags was another recent step in this direction. The fact is that there’s huge traffic and influence to be had by hosting breaking news and eye-witness accounts. Its those world-galvanizing moments, and not just private tidbits about our friends, that stir our emotions.