Facebook’s investment in newsletters confirms the future of data sales belongs to the media
Facebook recently announced the creation of a blogging and newsletter platform to support small journalism and creators. The news came in January just after Twitter invested in newsletters by acquiring Revue, but Facebook confirmed its plans in a blog post in mid-March.
In the US, we’re going to introduce a new platform to empower freelance writers, help them reach new audiences, and grow their businesses. We’ll start by partnering with a small subset of freelance writers. The platform will include a variety of mediums focused on content creation and audience growth.
Facebook explained how its newsletter functionality would be integrated with current business and creator functionality within the main app, including Pages and Groups. The main self-publishing platform will include
robust styling options for creating individual websites and email newsletter.
It’s a smart game. Small businesses and creators who already have a thriving Facebook following can add to current Facebook tools without the need to transfer their mailing lists or train their fans to follow them on another platform. If Instagram’s integration into the larger Facebook ecosystem is any indication, the tools should work seamlessly, directing newsletter readers to online groups to comment on posts, giving easy access to posts. registrations through the creator page and by showing recent posts in user timelines.
This investment in providing small businesses and creators with a platform for their own media is nothing new. Substack raised $ 65 million in Series B funding at the end of March. Patreon, Memberful, Vimeo, online courses, streaming services, subscription sites have all exploded in popularity with creators looking for ways to monetize the content they create.
But not all of these creative monetization platforms are the same, and they don’t all treat data generation the same.
The risks of borrowing a platform
Risks have increased for small businesses and creators who use third-party media platforms like social media sites to help them reach a larger audience. Many small businesses don’t realize they don’t own the audience they attract, the data they produce, and in some cases, the content they publish on apps.
This has become increasingly evident as social media users report being banned from Instagram, TikTok, and other major social media sites. When social media works for you, it’s easy to forget that it’s run by an algorithm that doesn’t care about your results.
And people worry about how businesses use the data they collect. They like the targeted advertising they get when businesses use their data, but they don’t like the idea of being the product itself. This has led various companies to adopt stricter privacy controls, including Apple’s new warning on app data, and Google has decided to ban the third-party cookie in its browser by 2022.
These changes have plunged Facebook into buying anxiety for full-page ads about the future of data, making this shift to semi-owned media even more frightening.
Proprietary media have long been the gold standard of marketing. Social media is great for small businesses that struggle to make their website or app compete with the big players, but in the end the company’s email newsletter is what gives the highest conversion rates. When you use an email platform like MailChimp, you keep your data. Email platforms make their money from subscriptions to their product, not the data you store there.
When you have your email list, sales data, and customer behavior insights, you can add them to your analytics tools (whether it’s BI or CRM or both) and you’re in a better position. understand who your customer is, when they buy, and how well you serve them.
Facebook ads have always worked very well as they provided CRM segmentation and Marketing as a Service automation targeting. You buy ad space and set targeting, and they bring you traffic. You pay for this service with your data instead of a monthly subscription.
Facebook’s reputation deteriorated because it couldn’t just help companies sell products. His decision to sell huge amounts of data to Cambridge Analytica and others has made businesses and individuals skeptical about giving their data to Facebook.
It will be interesting to see what Facebook, Twitter and others are doing with the newsletter tools. Currently, Substack is making money by taking a portion of the subscription price from writers and creators. If you write on Substack (and I do), you own your mailing list, you own your content, and you can take it all with you if you go to another newsletter or blogging platform. The same goes for LetterDrop, MemberSpace and other similar services.
What I’m guessing is that given its long history of engulfing data for repackaging and selling as a product to marketers, data factories and the like,Facebook won’t be happy to turn newsletters into another source of income. I’m assuming that Mailing Lists, Reader Data, Writer Data, and Reader Behavior will eventually be repackaged as another data product.
Tamara Scott is a Nashville-based writer and content strategist. With a background in English, she plans and writes clear and informative content for marketers and technology users of all skill levels. To follow @t_scottie