The Guardian launched a Facebook social sharing app in September 2011 and has now decided it wants more control. The social sharing app hit a peak of over six million monthly users in April 2012 and currently has over 2.5 million monthly users.
In the social sharing app, The Guardian now has a large banner that says “The Guardian app is changing” which links directly to this blog post. In it, Product Manager Anthony Sullivan talks about the success of the app and how they plan on utilizing the recently introduced Facebook login on Guardian.co.uk:
We have decided to switch our focus to creating more social participation for our users on our own core properties, beginning with guardian.co.uk.
In the future, for example, users on our site may be able to ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ with comment pieces, take part in polls or express their view on the likelihood of a football rumour coming true. The key thing is that the user will be in control and if they’re not interested in sharing it will not impact on their experience of accessing our content on guardian.co.uk.
As part of this switch in focus, from Monday 17 December we will begin directing users who click on a Guardian link within Facebook straight to our website to view articles, so over time all users will no longer be shown the content on a page within Facebook.
Anthony makes it clear that the social network is still an important part of The Guardian and its strategy moving forward. With this change, readers will have more control and for those who don’t want to connect with Facebook, they can use the site as they normally would.
One reader by the name of Pete Austin commented on the issue with frictionless sharing offered by social sharing apps:
Good move. “Frictionless sharing” was a total misnomer.
What would happen was: I’d see someone had shared a story, click the link, find it went to some dumb app, curse, copy the story text into google search, click one of the results, copy the story URL back into Facebook with a comment such as, “here’s a link that actually works”, and finally read the story. So much harder than just clicking a link and reading!
The Guardian may be leaving behind a lot of views and in the process of having more control but some sacrifices must be made to keep readers happy and properly engaged.