Just three weeks after announcing its new newsletter platform, Bulletin, Facebook has released a new round of over 30 new and established journalists, activists, sportswriters, podcasters, and culture writers. These writers have contracted with Facebook to contribute consistent content on the Bulletin platform, which has close ties to Facebook but lives on a separate domain.
Bulletin writers will keep all subscription payments, which will be handled through Facebook Pay. They will have full control over the design of their domain and will be able to upload audio, video, images, and even conduct live audio sessions. For now, Bulletin is available invite-only, although if they plan to compete with Substack, the platform will likely open up to more creators soon.
Copying for success is a strategy that works for Facebook
The newsletter platform is another in Facebook’s moves to incorporate tools that have made other companies successful, a trend that began when Facebook instituted the news feed in 2006. Other companies like Flickr and MySpace had similar features prior to the news feed’s inclusion in Facebook, despite Zuckerberg’s claim that he invented the tool.
But while copying successful features of other social media sites doesn’t work for everyone (see Twitter’s ill-fated Fleets), Facebook—and by extension Instagram—have made it work. Perhaps it’s the wide user base and robust data products that keep these tools going, or maybe they actually pull the features off better than the competition.
Or maybe the real value of this strategy is that Facebook can learn from the failures of its competitors while incorporating the parts of the tools that actually work for their users. Whatever you want to say about Facebook, the features they introduce work. And who really cares about who did it first, when billions of people use the product?