How many times a week do you visit Facebook or Twitter?
Once or twice? A handful of times? Heck, maybe you check them out on a daily basis. If you do, you're not alone; an average of 313 million people a month actively use Twitter, while Facebook alone is currently averaging a whopping 1.13 billion daily active users.
Sites like Facebook are now big enough - and are attracting enough direct traffic - to take risks, and to start making major changes to certain parts of their businesses. As it happens, these sites are some of the biggest on the Internet, which means that any major changes these sites make to their products will likely have a knock-on effect on other parts of the web.
For a lot of people, social media is a place for them to find content recommendations from trusted sources.
Their friends (whom they trust) share links to something they've enjoyed, or they pop up on their timelines from Pages they've chosen to Like. They then click the links, and they're directed away from the social media site so they can read them.
Here's where my thoughts begin.
My guess is that the social networks aren't happy with people leaving their sites when they click the links. They don't want to act as gateways to externally-hosted content platforms. Instead, they want to become the platform.
In ten years' time, the majority of self-hosted blogs won't exist. The evolution of social media sites into content-hosting platforms will - for the most part - render self-hosting unnecessary. Instead, bloggers will publish their content directly to - and have it hosted by - Facebook, or Twitter, or whichever social media site they think fits them best.
Let me give you an example.
Jane is a 21-year-old office worker, and she runs a cookery blog in her spare time.
Right now, if you want to read Jane's blog posts, you'll have to either visit Jane's blog at www.janesblog.com, or you'll have to Like/follow her on Facebook/Twitter and hope that you'll see her posts on your timeline.
Easy, right? Well, it's about to get even easier.
Soon, the two will be combined.
You'll no longer visit www.janesblog.com - instead, Jane will host her blog on Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever equivalent 'destination platform' springs up over the next few years.
This will work out pretty well for Jane. For a start, more people will read her posts. Even if a cookery fan is not specifically looking for Jane's blog, there's a far higher chance of them finding (or being recommended) one of her posts if it's hosted on a social media platform than there is of them stumbling across her self-hosted blog on Google.
It'll also take away the hassle of setting up a self-hosted blog.
Anyone who's ever created a Facebook Page knows how easy it is - you pick a name, you upload a couple of photos, and you're done. It'll be just as easy to set up a Facebook-hosted blog. Jane will fill in a few boxes, and she'll immediately get a gorgeous blog, a suite of great social sharing tools, and a free www.janesblog.facebook.com domain. What could be easier?
It'll work out pretty nicely for the platform, too.
Instead of people being directed to external websites whenever they click a link on Facebook, they'll be directed to a Facebook-hosted blog. For most casual consumers, this means that they'll rarely have to leave the bubble of Facebook. For the company, this means that they can continue to serve advertisements to consumers who would previously have left their ecosystem.
Don't worry, blogging fans; it won't be the end of self-hosted blogs. They'll still exist, and there'll still be a market for them. The only difference is that they'll serve a more niche section of the market. Self-hosted blogs will continue to be the go-to option for real blogging fanatics, or for those who wish to highly customise their designs and UXs. For the Average Joe, though, the new platforms will have everything they need.
Do you like the sound of this newly-integrated blogging/social media experience?
Can you not wait to migrate your blog over to a social media platform? Well, here's some good news: the process has already begun. In September 2015, Facebook unveiled their newly-redesigned Notes feature:
If you're a WordPress user (or even just someone who reads a lot of blogs), that page layout will probably look familiar to you.
With their redesign of Notes, Facebook has laid the foundations for bloggers to begin using Facebook as a host for their blog.
As someone who runs a self-hosted site, I'm pretty excited about this. Not only will Facebook's transition to platforming give would-be bloggers a quick and easy way to set up their first blog, but it'll also provide bloggers who switch their sites to Facebook an opportunity to reach more people than ever before.
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