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04 May, 2015

How publishers can fend off Facebook's offer to host all of their content

Facebook is playing hardball with legacy news publishers

They say that links to news stories outside of their platform provide a poor user experience. 

Facebook claims that news articles can take up to eight seconds to load. 

If that metric true, I would be inclined to agree with Facebook that a long load time is a horrible user experience.

Facebook has a solution, just give them all of your original content instead. 

In essence they are saying, “Fire your Web team, shutter your home page and just hook us up to your API. You had your chance, you failed. We’ll take it from here.”

Facebook’s claims that their 1.4 billion users can consume your news content much faster if you just give them all of your stories. 

Your news consumers never have to leave Facebook! Isn’t that better for everyone?

To sweeten the deal, Facebook says that if you serve up your content with an ad, you will get to keep all of the ad revenue. If Facebook sells an ad against your content, you keep 70 percent.

But there is an obvious problem in giving Facebook the power of your press.

What will happen to the stories that you post that are critical of Facebook? Or their partners? Their investors? Their spouses, Their friends?  

Nobody knows. And that should scare the shit out of you.

No tech company has earned the privilege to exercise that kind of editorial judgement. 

Least of all Facebook. They have no demonstrated expertise in running editorial operations to the benefit of a civil society.

Worse, they have a reputation for suddenly changing their terms and conditions, tracking user behavior around the Internet and abusing privacy rights.

What is curious to note is that at the same time video content is on the rise and earning the most advertising revenue.

Today, advertisers and brands want to be associated with video content. So why even put links to your articles on Facebook in the first place?

What publishers and broadcasters should instead be posting to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are video story cards. What is a story card? 

Look how CNN uses vertical story cards in the Snap Chat Discover section to promote their stories. 

Look at the story cards that the BBC publishes on Instagram. 

Story cards are self-contained, tightly edited story summaries and promos that invite engagement with your original content. 

There is no reason to give tech platforms like Facebook complete access to your article text when there is another option.

In a 15-second story card you can include three pictures (video or still) with eight words per image and still have a three-second slot for advertising in the form of sponsored content. 

Story cards can be tagged with your branding and can automatically be shown on your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and chat app streams with your images, words, branding and advertising intact.  

Think about that for a moment.

If you can deliver visual summaries of your best stories to social platforms using story cards, you will get to keep more of the ad revenue, keep your customer relationship, and deliver your content in mobile-first, mobile native form.  

Story cards are streamable, swipeable, shareable, searchable, snackable, stackable, social, and wearable.

Yes, story cards are a wearable-ready story form. Properly designed, story cards are well-suited for the Apple Watch and it’s clones.

With smartly-designed story cards, you can get viewers back to your platforms where they will get the rest of the story. 

What is missing is a great tool and an independent platform that provides publishers and broadcasters with the ability to create video story cards that can do all of these things and do them well.

That company is something that I would like to build.

That is why I am launching

Contact me if you are interested in forming a startup to deliver this smart story card technology. 

Storeez will allow publishers to maintain editorial independence and financial independence from third-party platforms that prefer not to pay for content and have no idea how expensive independently-produced journalism actually is.

I live in Silicon Allee, not Silicon Valley, and here in Berlin it is possible to make a project like this happen.