Facebook in-app search accelerates need for brands to invest in interesting content

Facebook's new in-app search launch may help the platform stay relevant for users, says Abbey Torrance, digital account manager at global media agency Carat, but brands need to up the stakes on content.

Facebook is testing a new in-app search and share function for content
Facebook is testing a new in-app search and share function for content

According to recent reports, Facebook is testing an in-app keyword search engine on a small number of iOS users in the US, enabling them to find and share links to articles without leaving the app.

Facebook is really upping its game to ensure it remains relevant to its users

When a user wants to share a piece of content and post it on a friend’s wall, an option, ‘add a link’, appears, enabling users to type keywords to search for articles and easily share them on their friend’s wall.

Most shareable content favoured

The list of articles is aggregated by Facebook on the basis of the likelihood of content to be shared, for example the most talked about subject of the day, or articles that have already had a high number of shares.

Currently, users have to already have left the app environment and jump into a browser to search for the content they want to share, and copy the link, and then go back into the Facebook app. This new update offers a much more streamlined user journey, allowing them to remain within the Facebook ecosystem and never have to leave the app.

Upon hearing this news, alongside claims that Google now ought to be worried, the first thing that popped into my mind was that Facebook is really upping its game to ensure it remains relevant to its users.

Facebook traffic dips

The latest figures from ComScore show that Facebook has 29.4 million unique visitors in the UK, down 1.7% since March 2014. And in recent years, a few reports have been published claiming that millennials are allegedly abandoning Facebook and flocking to Twitter and Snapchat.

Facebook is obviously aware that social media networks are effectively working as content discovery platforms

However, this latest update highlights once again Facebook’s continued effort to both redefine its place within the social media landscape and devise innovative ways to retain and grow its audience.

Facebook is obviously aware that social media networks are effectively working as content discovery platforms – recent data gathered through CCS, Carat’s research tool that surveys 11,000 Britons on their attitudes and media habits, shows that 41% of people (and 33% of millennials) claim to feel overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of choice on the internet, preferring friends’ recommendations on social media to searching for content themselves.

Mobile status search engine

With the development of its mobile status search engine, the social network is continuing to prove that it truly is a ‘mobile first’ company, and is demonstrating it clearly understands that users want to discover, access and share content easily, whenever they want, wherever they are.

Publishers and brands focusing in native advertising will have to invest in really interesting pieces of content in order to boost engagement

This is bolstering Facebook’s position as a one-stop shop. Users will expect to see all the latest news stories in their feed and be able to share whatever they like straight away, directly from their mobile. To put it simply, if publishers choose not to syndicate their content across the Facebook platform, they will not be as viewable online

With the reach of organic posts somewhere now between 1 – 6%, publishers and brands focusing in native advertising will have to invest in really interesting pieces of content in order to boost engagement.

Diminished organic reach

Up until now, Facebook has been extremely valuable for publishers in building audiences and this latest in-app search functionality could take this relationship one step further. It is no doubt that this makes publishers even more dependent on the social network and it may eventually push them to publish their content directly on the platform. It is reported that as such, Facebook is looking to split revenue with publishers, but this is still to be confirmed.  

Overall, this is a great update for us as Facebook users – they are really thinking about the user journey and how to make it better. This is also a great move for publishers, such as The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, who use Facebook as the key part of their content strategy.


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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).

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