Facebook launched a new Album Sharing service today, allowing up to 50 users to come together to create a communal album which can hold up to 10,000 pictures.
It is yet another push by CEO Mark Zuckerberg to increase engagement on the site and ultimately attract advertisers, which have thus far helped Facebook's market value pass $100bn.
Although the Album Sharing feature is only available to individual profiles, meaning company Pages cannot yet use it, The Drum caught up with industry insiders to gauge what the latest update could potentially mean for brands and advertisers.
Rachelle Thompson, community strategist, TH_NK
Facebook's new album settings are a nod to increased sharing behaviour on its site. Albums currently include data points recognising people (tagging) and location (geo tagging) for shared interests, but users have been thwarted on sharing based on theme, until now. If this feature was to get a roll out into Pages for brand use, then I imagine most brands will apply it to creatively tailor UGC. Most brands are frustrated by the current restrictions of the Facebook image features. Perhaps we would see some of the more conservative large brands feeling more secure in accepting user content, due to the permissions of the album host. Given Facebook's history with competition restrictions I suspect any brand that tried to get too experimental with a feature like this for the purpose of a competition would quickly become a case study in what not to do. There’s been conversation about Facebook ‘killing hundreds of start-ups’ with this new feature, but I think it’s a naïve point of view. Facebook will always look to market to find which start-ups are growing, and any new functionality they are proposing. This way they don’t over invest in product development, and can leverage concepts being tested in market by smaller companies. It has given these early developers a chance to prove that they are broad thinking and able to predict user needs - in a start-up environment that is critical. A wise entrepreneur would mitigate against this and be more forward thinking, working on ways to enhance features, or move into another gap in Facebook’s offering, with the proven record that they understand what the next big iteration will be.
Ben Phillips, senior strategist, Work Club
It’s an important, but not revolutionary, development in bringing shared galleries to a broader audience. Currently hashtags do a very similar thing, albeit without the same level of control. Lots of weddings and large parties in the past year have had a unique hashtag so the attendees can share their photos whether they’re friends on social networks or not. That said, photo hashtagging around events still feels niche compared to sharing photos on Facebook. The inclusion of shared galleries into core Facebook functionality will lead to much broader uptake. For brands, two opportunities jump out. Firstly, creative treatment of a shared gallery. For instance, I’ve been a holiday with a few friends and we’ve all been contributing to an album. Brand X creates an app that turns our photos into a cool social object. The Vaccines ‘Wetsuit’ Instagram music video is a good reference for this.Secondly, it gives selected Facebook fans of a brand an opportunity to attend and capture a launch event. This would work particularly well for fashion and auto brands.
Jed Hallam, head of social strategy, Mindshare
The introduction of group album creation on Facebook is notable for a few reasons; Facebook’s continued emphasis on photo storage (from simple mechanics like the iPhone integration, to the billion dollar purchase of Instagram), which I think might be a play to securing longevity – after all, who would leave a service that contained in excess of five years of personal photos (that are notoriously difficult to download from the service). It’s also quite a big play at squashing services that perform a similar process; from relative minnows such as Flock, to bigger players such as Flickr and Google. What seems clear to me is that Facebook is looking to collect even more data on users – by allowing people to co-create albums, it’s then encouraging uploads, more tagging, and more interaction on those photos – and all of that data then becomes incredibly useful in tying together relationships between people, popular locations, and user-generated content. Which, ultimately, helps Facebook to provide brands with a greater depth of information to advertise to people.