By now, we can all agree Facebook is a dominant force in how we use our mobile devices. Lately, the company has been working hard to convince media partners to more deeply integrate with its network through the introduction of new services.
On Wednesday, the social network launched its latest effort: Notify, a news-driven app that feeds content directly to the lock screen of a user’s mobile device. As a dedicated app for iOS, it’s designed to be a central hub for alerts from a variety of partners, including BuzzFeed, CNN, and the Weather Channel.
However, Facebook is claiming that Notify is NOT a news reader. And that’s because you can get all kinds of content on Notify that isn’t news, like music videos from Vevo or daily deals from Groupon. Also, like Facebook mentioned in a blog post, the stories feed could be customized by choosing from several different categories, including movies, music, sport, news, and celebrities. There are also categories for daily meditation exercises and another from the Getty picture library showing iconic images from the same day in history.
Notify users are asked to follow publishers or “stations” which will then push content throughout the day to their phone’s lock screens. The push notifications only include a snippet of information, like a headline, but a link within the notification will send you to the publisher’s mobile webpage, which surfaces inside the app. If you don’t have time to read something right away, you can save content to read later or share it with others through platforms like Facebook, or course.
The name of Facebook’s new feature isn’t a coincidence. For many mobile users, especially younger ones, the notifications screen of their smartphone has become their home page, the place they turn to in order to find out what they need to know.
The social media giant has more than 70 media partners for Notify, from Comedy Central to Harper’s Bazaar, all of which control the content they push out to their followers. The benefit to these partners is obvious – an easy new way to get content in front of people without the same competition that comes with posting in a person’s Facebook or Twitter feed. When users click on a link, they are brought to the publisher’s mobile webpage, not to Facebook, meaning publishers still get the clicks and ad impressions they value.
At the same time, Facebook clearly sees Notify as the next step in a process of using content from media partners to make Facebook and its apps part of the core behavior of mobile users. Notifications have already become a powerful new interaction layer for younger users, and Facebook wants very badly to be part of that.
Basically, Notify is looking a lot like a Facebook-based version of a Twitter list, or a modernized version of an RSS reader, something that was popular back in the days before Twitter, when people wanted to keep up with the latest posts on their favorite blogs, don’t you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section.