The day many marketers and publishers have dreaded has arrived: Facebook is changing its algorithm to send less traffic to content sites.
In a blog post this morning, the social giant announced it will increasingly prioritize posts shared by friends and family over those from publishers, brands, and other pages.
“The growth and competition in the publisher ecosystem is really, really strong,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president of product management, told the New York Times. “We’re worried that a lot of people using Facebook are not able to connect to friends and family as well because of that.”
The move doesn’t come as a total shock. Research by SocialFlow earlier this month found that the reach of publisher stories had already dropped by 42%.
Facebook doesn’t announce its algorithm changes unless they’re going to have a big impact, and this one will. After all, 40% of publisher traffic comes from Facebook, according to recent research from analytics company Parse.ly.
I spend my life obsessing over Facebook’s impact on marketing and media. As this news broke this morning, seven big thoughts came to mind:
#1. Some are saying this won’t affect publishers that much; IT WILL
As you may have seen on Twitter, there’s an easy way to downplay the algorithm change. If the posts of “friends and family” will get top ranking in the News Feed, then publishers just need to get those folks to share their stories.
But if you’re a publisher with a massive Facebook presence like BuzzFeed or Vox, a big reason people share your stories on Facebook in the first place is because they see them in their News Feed after you post. In other words, publishers’ Facebook posts are the seed that grows into a giant tree of traffic. (BuzzFeed’s Pound technology does a great job of showing how this works.) Fewer seeds means much, much less traffic.