Taking a leaf out of Snapchat’s book, Facebook is also gearing up to arm its users with the ability of instant content creation. The company is going about it in a manner similar to Snapchat and is placing a camera on the top of the news feed. The option is initially rolling out to Olympic-stricken Brazil and also Canada with a possible global roll out in case of a positive response.
The basic aim is to enable users to start creating content the moment they open up their news feeds. All of us have been there when we could have clicked a really memorable picture or recorded a really awesome video, but missed the opportunity because we were busy fumbling with our cameras. This is exactly the kind of issue the brand new test feature will tackle.
So now, instead of just the “What are you doing?” update prompt, users will see an open and active camera window that will ensure that recording a video or snapping a picture is only one tap away. I am quite certain that selfie buffs are going to go nuts when they hear about this brand new Facebook feature. Sadly though, the feature is in its test phase and will roll out only to Canada and Brazil. All iOS and Android users in Canada and all iOS users in Brazil will be able to see the active camera window on top of their news feeds, starting today.
Currently, the feature is slated to last until the end of the Olympics. However, it is reasonable to assume that if users show their preference for the camera, Facebook may just make it a permanent part of the news feed, besides also rolling it out to the rest of the world.
The feature is not really a surprise considering that Facebook has started laying greater focus on a photos and videos based approach. The company believes that using just text to update status is soon going to be redundant, if not obsolete. This may well be the first concrete step along the company’s plans to a video-first, photo-first Facebook.
Speaking on the topic to TechCrunch, Facebook Product Manager Sachin Monga said,
The way that people share has changed a lot. 12 years ago, most of what was shared was text. Now, mobile changed things a little bit, but we didn’t really change our tools. If you look at what people are sharing, now it’s mostly photos, and soon it will be mostly videos. Our strategy is really simple. We want to make it really easy to share photos and videos.
The company is desperately trying to combat the decline in original content. After all, social networking is a platform where content — and particularly original content — is the king and Facebook is no exception. There has been a marked decline in people sharing original content — as much as 15% year over year by some counts — and Facebook certainly doesn’t want that.
By making photos and videos easier to share, Facebook is giving people access to a whole new niche of content. Once the fever catches on, we may well see everyone posting home-made videos and pictures on Facebook. What’s more, the the new, awesome filters from Facebook acquired MSQRD are also being officially integrated with the camera for the first time.
The filters will enable people to do quite a lot of really cool stuff with the pictures and videos they are creating on the spur of the moment. For example, you could place very real looking Canadian or Brazilian flags on your face. You can also apply different Olympics face paint that match the contours of their face. And that is not all, folks can also add static graphic overlay filters to their videos and make them way more cooler!
When asked about weather Facebook got the idea from Snapchat, Monga said
I think they’ve done a really good job of building a modern composer. The thing that’s created the change from text to visual sharing is that everyone has a phone and a camera in their pocket, but they’ve definitely done a really good job with it.
Well, some may call it plagiarism of a sorts. However, Facebook can’t be expected to never integrate these features just because Snapchat got to them first. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see the effect of increasing the sharing of original content upon publishers. Will they be harmed if more of the news feed is occupied by original content or will they benefit from the traffic boost that will (hopefully) result from the original content sharing.
Monga appears to think it it will be the latter.
Hopefully we’re not changing much of the dynamics about how News Feed works. Sharing original content on Facebook is a really stronger driver of time spent on Facebook, so this change should benefit everyone.
Well, this is something only time will tell. Meanwhile, by adding the best features that are available on the web, Facebook is ensuring that its 1 billion plus users don’t have to go anywhere else.