Mike Isaac

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Toward a More Public Social Network: Facebook Rolls Out Embedded Posts

Facebook_F380The world’s premier social network is beginning to learn the value of publicness.

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it will roll out embedded posts, giving users the ability to stick their status updates in pages across the Web, and outside of Facebook. Photos, status updates, posts with hashtags, videos — all are now fair game to embed in pages on third-party sites outside of the social network.

In the ongoing battle for real-time relevance, consider this move a direct affront to Twitter.

The microblogging social network has had the ability to embed tweets directly into Web pages for some time, a way for third-party publishers to pluck tweets from the Twittersphere to often improve items like news stories or blog posts on their sites. (CNN in particular has done much in this vein with Twitter’s embedded posts.)

And Twitter’s strength here has been its public nature. By default, everything on Twitter is in the public sphere, unless you’ve locked your account.

Facebook realizes the value here, and has slowly inched toward making its network more public over time. Last December, Facebook made all profiles searchable by default, and earlier this year, Facebook brought Instagram embeds to the Web.

The point is this: Having the world’s largest “private” social network is certainly a powerful thing. But Facebook wants to edge in on the real-time nature of Twitter’s network, pushing Facebook content out to other sites and thereby increasing distribution and the reach of a global conversation.

The hashtag, for example, is only effective as a conversational threading tool if a great deal of people can see it. So if hashtagged posts are now spread across major news sites like Bleacher Report, CNN, Huffington Post, Mashable and People (Facebook’s first news partners in the embedded-posts push), more people will be able to see and participate in the conversation, ultimately adding their own hashtagged posts on Facebook.

And as Facebook has made it so crystal clear over the past few weeks, real-time interaction has the potential to be incredibly lucrative if the network can hone in on those prime-time big-brand ad dollars — just like Twitter wants to do with its second-screen strategy.

Facebook expects the embedded posts to roll out over the next few weeks, but as The Verge notes, there’s a slight catch: Sites that want to include the embed functionality will have to install a plugin (a few lines of code) on their site to make it work.

I expect that will slow the rollout some, but my guess is that the major sites will start first, and it will trickle down from there.


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