Facebook has taken bigger strides to become even more of a content platform and tool to source content. Yesterday, Facebook announced Signal its newest effort to embrace media and journalists by providing them with the means to find and curate news across the social network. Andy Mitchell, director of media partnerships at Facebook said in a blog post, Signal allows journalists the opportunity “to make Facebook a more vital part of their news gathering with access to relevant trends, photos, videos, and posts on Facebook and Instagram for use in their storytelling and reporting.”Under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook has always been interested in the 24-hour news cycle. And Signal isn’t Facebook’s first move to better intertwine journalists and content on the site. Last week, Facebook opened up its Mentions app to all verified profiles, allowing more journalists and celebrities to see where and how they have been mentioned. Facebook Stories and Instant Articles also show Facebook’s new wave of providing content and keeping full articles on the site – without ever having to leave the mothership (Facebook’s news feed).
While Facebook isn’t the only social platform looking to deepen its relationship with the media – take Snapchat Discover or Twitter’s Project Lightning – Signal is a big move to better connect with journalists. Further as of the second quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.49 billion monthly active users. It’s definitely the platform with the largest audience.
In a format similar to the likes of TweetDeck, here are the functionalities of Signal and how it will better help journalists find and use content:
1) Discover what’s trending: Journalists can monitor which topics are trending on Facebook and display related content that has been shared publicly. Previously, trending topics were influenced by what people say they already like on Facebook. Signal gives journalists a more universal summary of what’s trending based on content from both people and Pages, unranked and in chronological order. There’s also a search function to find exactly what you’re looking for.
What it means: Similar to when news breaks on Twitter, journalists will be able to see what’s happening, in real-time across the world – no longer only based on categories and interests they’ve previously liked on Facebook. They will be able to react quickly, and stay in Signal to build out their article with the help of these additional functionalities below.
2) Data on who is driving the most conversation: Lists will show who is being talked about most on Facebook – from public figures, politicians, musicians, sports teams and more.
What it means: This clearly summarizes who or what is the most popular figure in the moment based on the different search categories. In a presidential debate, maybe Donald Trump is being mentioned the most, but the runner up might be harder to distinguish – Signal will tell you in real-time.
3) Search, gather, save and embed Instagram and Facebook content: Can’t forget about Instagram, right? By using location-tag and topic-related search functionality, journalists can search Instagram for photos related to the trending news. Further, to make it nice and easy, every Facebook post, Instagram image or video, and metric in Signal can be saved into custom collections for use in a CMS or with broadcast graphic packages. Posts and photos can then be embedded into an article by grabbing the embed code. Newsrooms can also integrate Signal APIs to add curated content onto their websites and into their broadcasts.
What it means: Facebook has been trying to better integrate with Instagram since they bought it in 2012. With Signal, journalists can easily search, save and add a photo of the trending topic right into their article. In theory, and if Signal really is successful, journalists might not need to leave Signal to write an article. Everything they need could be right there.
Even if it’s not a sole-hub for journalists, Signal lays a good foundation to help them get the news, data and even the images they need. This is a major step for Facebook’s quest to become a news discovery platform – not just a sharing platform.