The Internet at large exploded over the announcement of Facebook’s impending changes, slated to appear at the end of the month.
Reactions to Facebook’s news have ranged from “It’s gonna change the world as we know it!” from the techie crowd to “We’re all gonna die!” from, well, the entire Twitterverse (search #newfacebook, you’ll see what we mean).
Though some of Facebook’s announced changes do seem scary (Facebook tracking your browsing history even after you log out of the network, for example), some do seem pretty cool– like Pete Cashmore’s account on CNN of Facebook’s new timeline design .
But one change is of particular concern for the content industry– Mark Zuckerberg’s concept of “frictionless sharing.”
How Facebook’s “Frictionless Sharing” is Supposed to Work
Currently, Facebook users choose what they want to share. Read an interesting article? Hit “Like,” and your friends can read it too (or, as we reported last week, you can hit a developer-created Facebook share button instead).
What’s wrong with this arrangement? In Zuckerberg’s eyes, it’s that you have to choose what you share. Clicking the “Like” button seems an unnecessary step. Instead, certain apps (Spotify, for example) will come with auto-share features, meaning that Facebook will share what you watch, read, or listen to automatically. Hence the term “frictionless”– it’s a seamless sharing of what you’re doing online.
Auto-Share vs. Overshare
Sure, it’s a little creepy to picture Facebook automatically telling your friends that you just listened to Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” But many bloggers and pundits are considering another problem: is Facebook’s “auto-share” synonymous with “overshare?”
Many Facebook users are already sick of oversharing. We all have that Facebook Friend who shares a little too much info on the network, like the Wannabe Foodie who shares what they’re eating for dinner every single night. There’s the New Parent who shares every second of their child’s life with you (leading to frustrated blogs like STFU, Parents). And then there’s the Angsty Teen who posts passive-agressive song lyrics every hour, on the hour.
But when we share an article, blog, video, or song, it’s because we actually like what we saw– and we’re betting our friends will, too. As Slate’s Farhad Manjoo writes, “…it’s somehow eluded Zuckerberg that sharing is fundamentally about choosing. You experience a huge number of things every day, but you choose to tell your friends about only a fraction of them, because most of what you do isn’t worth mentioning.” If we only share about 10% of what we see online, we’re sharing the best 10%.
How Will Auto-Sharing Affect the Content Industry?
Will it make content writers’ jobs easier or harder?
It’s obvious why some would say easier– no more worrying over whether your content is worthy enough to share! As long as you can get someone to click on your link, it’ll get shared, right?
In fact, Facebook’s “frictionless sharing” will probably make our jobs infinitely harder.
What’s our main goal here? Why do we create content? What are we really after?
Quality content is king because it makes people move. It makes them laugh, makes them think, or makes them share with a friend. It compels, it engages, it provokes. The only content that matters is content that resonates. It makes readers remember you, your site, your company, your brand.
If every piece of content you write gets shared, it’s doubly important to ensure every piece you submit is good enough to warrant the attention. If you can’t promise that to your readers, then you’re the one who’s oversharing.