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When you work in social media, you start to take a lot of things for granted. Things like having more apps on your phone than you know what to do with, actively participating in Weird Twitter, and having to repeatedly answer the question, “Why do I need a Facebook?”

When asked, I used to go on these long diatribes about speaking to your audience, the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO), and eventually landing on “It’s just what the teens are doing, man.” I’ve realized recently I was completely off.

Now I simply ask back, “Why do you need a Google?”

The reason that question sounds so strange is because we can’t fathom a world where Google doesn’t permeate every facet of our day. Google transformed from a simple search engine into how we communicate, keep our schedules and even find events to fill said schedules.

That being said, Facebook isn’t trying to become the next Google, because they can’t. That’d be like trying to replace oil as the dominant fossil fuel on the planet, and we know how well that’s going. So rather than reinventing the wheel, Facebook is attempting to show users another — dare we say better — way to stay informed, connected and socially active on a platform they already know and love. And here’s how they’re doing it.

Facebook Instant Articles

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Facebook is tired of being the middleman for news. That’s why they’ve recently unveiled new stories from The New York Times and BuzzFeed that will live completely inside Facebook – more like a status update than a link. So when a user clicks on one of these stories, they’ll remain inside the live, interactive post rather than be pushed to a page outside the app. They can even contain audio, video and other interactive elements. This means more news, faster and in a more engaging format, all while being a simple swipe away from your friend’s constant baby updates.

Messenger Can Track Packages and Crack Skulls

The Internet has been an amazing tool for tracking your online purchases. And by amazing, I mean horrid and agonizing and downright illogical. Seriously, why are you sending it to Horsham?! Or North Jersey! I live nowhere near either of those places! Stop taking the turnpike!


Soon, you’ll be able to voice this frustration with e-commerce companies directly through Facebook’s standalone Messenger app. Track packages, field customer services questions and even send them your favorite hate GIFs, all from the same app. It probably won’t help your packages arrive on time, but you’ll feel a little better about it.

Embeddable Facebook Videos

If it’s not already, Facebook wants to become the center of your and your friends’ universe. That’s why they’ve recently made it possible to embed any video you upload to Facebook. Not really cutting edge, I know. But if it’s easier than sending you a YouTube link, it’s a game changer.

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Facebook Comments Transcend Websites and Apps

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As if we needed another reason to never read the comments on stories we read online, now they’ll automatically appear under the story when it’s posted to Facebook. This was mostly done to help publishers who saw their engagement fragmented across a variety of platforms. But I think this falls under Facebook’s new mantra of bringing more content onto their platform, and keeping users there longer.

Facebook Parse

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You knew it had to happen eventually: Facebook is getting into the Internet of Things. It’s not clear yet how Facebook will integrate with IoT devices, but it’s clear they definitely want to start experimenting. Does this mean Dad commenting on you changing the NEST temperature in the house? Or maybe getting the chance to “Like” a post from your car about improved gas mileage this week? We don’t know what this will look yet, but we’ll be sure to update you when we do.

So for the average Facebook user this means, ideally, a seamless, interactive social network filled with relevant local and world news alongside updates from close friends and family. Deep down that’s what every social network wants to be when they grow up, and it’s all aimed at holding more of our ever-waning attention spans.

This war started the moment there were two different newspapers to read, or two different radio signals to pick up, and it’s been raging battles on every medium in between. While Google’s been the historical winner, the tide seems to be turning in Facebook’s favor. With a robust advertising platform, gargantuan user base and impressive suite of mobile apps, Facebook is poised to remain the dominant social network if their vision for the future holds.

 

 

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Justin Lehmann

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