With Twitter recently acquiring newsletter maker Revue, Facebook is also looking to jump on to the newsletter trend, by developing its own newsletter creation and distribution tools as a means to help creators generate more revenue from their efforts.
Reports of Facebook's likely move into newsletters circulated back in January, shortly after the Revue announcement, and now, the platform has provided some insight into how its process will work.
As explained by Facebook:
"As writers, experts and journalists publish more of their work independently, we’re working to better support those efforts and make it easier for those content creators to build businesses online. In the coming months in the U.S., we’ll introduce a new platform to empower independent writers, helping them reach new audiences and grow their businesses."
Facebook's newsletter offering will be built upon a free self-publishing tool, with a range of style and layout options to help creators establish their own, unique content style.
Using this as the base, Facebook will then offer various distribution and presentation options, including:
- An integration with Facebook Pages to enable publishing across various multimedia formats including photos, live videos and stories
- The ability to create Facebook Groups and nurture a community of readers
- Features to help audiences easily discover new content and writers, and in turn help those creators build direct relationships with their audience
- Insights for writers to understand how content is performing
- Monetization tools to build successful individual websites and businesses, starting with subscriptions
- Accelerator services to help creators come together and learn best practices
Facebook could have several advantages on this front. As the most used single platform in the world, at 2.8 billion users, Facebook's potential reach is unmatched, and it has the capacity to ensure that more people are able to access your content via its platform.
If it so chooses. Right now, Facebook's organic Page reach is very limited - as in fractions of a percent of your Page audience - so it's not as big a lure as it could be. But if Facebook were looking to, say, promote this new option, it could open up that distribution to a wider pool, which would pique the interest of many creators.
Integrating groups provides another advantage - Facebook groups are used by 1.8 billion people every month, and can facilitate direct, consistent connection with your audience.
No other platform can come close to Facebook on these elements - and while, again, Facebook doesn't necessarily make it easy to reach all of your fans all the time, it could. If it wants to win out in the newsletter game, this distribution potential could be a key benefit.
But then again, as we recently saw with the Australian publisher shut down - if you are looking to build a business through Facebook, you don't want to leave yourself too reliant on the platform. Facebook cut off all Australian news publishers last month due to a dispute with the Australian Government over potential revenue share agreements with local media outlets. That left many small publishers, who are reliant on the platform, with nothing, and no recourse to get their Pages reinstated.
Luckily, Facebook did restore all of those Pages after coming to a new agreement with the Government, which it has now solidified via deals with the major media players in the region. But the action was a stark reminder of the power Facebook wields in this respect - and that could leave some creators hesitant to build on 'rented land'.
Facebook's reach, again, can overcome this, but it's another consideration as Facebook moves into the next stage of this project.
In terms of which creators, specifically, Facebook is looking to appeal to, the company says that:
"A large part of this initiative is aimed at supporting independent local journalists who are often the lone voice covering a given community. We’ll work to include them at launch, and build tools and services specific to their needs."
Again, there will be a hesitancy for some to sign-up for Facebook's offerings - particularly experienced journalists who've likely seen their industry decimated over time by Facebook itself. But if the option offers direct connection, and provides a level of security around how you can build an audience, it still could hold massive appeal.
Ensuring creators can effectively monetize their content is key to keeping high-profile users on-platform, along with their engaged audiences. That remains the key challenge for TikTok, which is developing various monetization options, and with each platform looking into more revenue-generation tools, the race is now on to see which can provide the best, most viable alternative income streams in order to attract the best creators and their content.
Newsletters have slowly become a key part of this equation. Substack now has over 250,000 paying subscribers, providing publishers with direct connection to people's inboxes, while more media players have gradually moved towards newsletters as a means to establish that direct connection, and facilitate first-party data pathways to maximize opportunity.
Facebook, again, could be hugely valuable on all of these fronts - but its past relationship with publishers and creators will be an element that it needs to overcome.