In a move to highlight their respective business-friendly credentials, both the biggest social networking site Facebook and the virtual social pinboard Pinterest have unveiled separate platforms designed for marketers and corporations in a move that has clear ramifications for the newspaper industry.
In their latest move to declutter the standard 'News Feed', Facebook will today role out a new ‘Pages Feed’, an unfiltered section devoted solely to promotional posts and updates from businesses. Introduced to minimize any unwanted juxtaposition between business concerns and genuinely social interaction, the concept exemplifies the balancing act Facebook must constantly perform between everyday users and those who use the site for commercial or promotional purposes. The feature, which users can click to from a button on the left side of their profile page, was reportedly developed in response to criticism from some businesses that their activities on the site were failing to reach a sufficiently wide audience.
In a similar announcement, Pinterest revealed new business accounts, whereby the use of the platform for commercial purposes is explicitly accepted without mentioning retail or advertising. Whilst the innovation is free of charge, and comes without any enhanced functionality (they are not specifically ‘brand’ pages in the tradition of Facebook, Twitter and Google+), the decision represents a symbolic courting of business and commercial interests in what has been regarded largely up till now as a medium dominated by the social and the informal.
Opportunities for newspapers, themselves ‘brands’ constantly in search of new audiences in the burgeoning landscape of social media, are varied. Whilst the argument that the creation of Facebook’s Pages Feed sidelines and annexes where it should integrate instead is to an extent valid (the feed is, ultimately, easy to ignore), it does mean that those who do click on the extra feed will see more posts from the brands that they follow.
Pinterest aims 'to connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting.’ The website states: ‘With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.’ In terms of ‘things’ to be virtually ‘shared’, newspaper companies worldwide must be hoping that informative, investigative and entertaining journalism comes high on the list. As the website notes, ‘Pins are the most useful when they have links back to the original source’: redirecting traffic to news sites from a larger base of excerpts and quotations on Pinterest, and indeed on Facebook, could prove potentially lucrative.