Facebook is gearing up to debut ‘Bulletin’— a subscription platform that will provide free and premium news content to readers. Anticipated to launch near the end of June, users can soon subscribe to journalists who cover topics like sports, culture, and local news.
Recent insights indicate that Bulletin will operate as a stand-alone platform separate from Facebook’s mobile app. Additionally, Facebook is hand-selecting who can write on Bulletin and will initially avoid hosting controversial topics on the platform.
The social network has 2.85 billion monthly users it can market Bulletin to. In the meantime, Facebook has committed $5 million to employ local writers. Once the platform launches, users can access recurring newsletters written by their favorite journalists. The model will be free for readers, with a paid version to be available soon afterward.
Read on to discover how Facebook hopes to create a reputable news platform separate from its wildly popular social network — and why.
Facebook Prepares a New Subscription Business Model
The social media conglomerate isn’t new to the subscription space. It introduced fan subscriptions in 2018, allowing creators the ability to create gated content and recurring revenue streams. Since then, Facebook has expanded its service by giving creators more tools to thrive off of subscription models.
The company also launched a news portal in 2019, keeping social media users up to date on the latest news without having to leave the platform. Bulletin will take key aspects from each model and add more features to benefit journalists.
Facebook’s writer-focused angle is in line with other recent initiatives, where the company is prioritizing creators’ needs to drive content production and engagement on its platforms.
“We’re exploring ways to help them benefit from the news products we’ve built, like Facebook News and subscriptions, while also building new tools to complement what journalists already find useful,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Vice President for Global News Partnerships.
On Bulletin, Facebook will give writers more accessibility in uploading content and growing their readership. Specifically, it will help creators monetize their portfolios and supply them with resources to build sustainable writing careers on its platform.
Facebook is now looking for ways to optimize profitability, so it’s planning on separating Bulletin from its mobile app. This would eliminate the burden of taxes Google and Apple collect from in-app subscription purchases, which could save Facebook money in the long run. Facebook can use this capital to compensate journalists, but it’s unclear whether it will pay writers commission based on their newsletter revenue.
However, creating an entirely separate platform introduces new branding and customer acquisition challenges. Bulletin will open via a browser window, which can have unknown effects on the new platform’s customer acquisition rates.
Establishing Reputability & Harmony on Bulletin
In an effort to provide value on the platform, Facebook is hiring independent journalists who cover local news. The company will prioritize hiring writers who are “Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian or another community of color, or who extensively cover these audiences,” according to its blog. By doing so, Bulletin can better serve underrepresented populations and bring important news to and from communities that lack information resources.
Facebook can also increase the breadth of its content production and lure new audiences to the platform by acquiring diverse writers. “We want to do more to support the independent journalists and experts who are building businesses and audiences online,” Brown said when Facebook journalism began to take shape.
Facebook plans to initially focus on neutral topics like sports and fashion, according to Vox Recode. As of right now, Bulletin is not expected to feature topics that could lead to disagreement and hostility between users. This is particularly interesting considering Facebook has a track record for contributing to inharmonious online conversations.
The company’s decision to crack down on controversy can allow it to market Bulletin as an unproblematic platform. However, in doing so, users may feel disconnected on certain topics, and Facebook may face the same freedom of speech issues it has dealt with in the past.
Facebook’s team continues to refine the details of its latest subscription strategy. One thing is for sure: Bulletin is a large priority for the company. Facebook paid $6 million solely for the domain ‘Bulletin.com,’ company officials told Vox Recode.
The social network plans to invest $1 billion in the news sector over the next three years, and Bulletin may be a significant conduit for this expenditure.
- Facebook is gearing up to debut ‘Bulletin’— a news subscription platform — near the end of June.
- Facebook is hand-selecting Bulletin’s writers and is expected to initially avoid hosting controversial topics on the platform.
- The social network has already committed $5 million to employ local journalists and plans to invest $1 billion in the news sector over the next three years.