Facebook Changes News Feed; Is All Lost for Publishers?

It looks like the day has arrived. The day Facebook seals their effort that cuts down on sending traffic to publisher (and brands) sites. It’s not surprising since they’ve been working on this effort since April. And they’ve cut down on the effectiveness of page posting for over the past 2 years.

It makes sense. Since they went public, they need to make money. To do this, they need to provide their customers with the best possible experience so they stay connected to their platform where they provide services for advertisers

According to comScore, Facebook ranked #3 in unique visitors in the U.S. last year. It’s only natural for publishers to ride the wave and drive traffic from this resource. However, with the News Feed change, the free lunch is over. Publishers will need to adapt a digital marketing playbook if they want to keep their content in front of their audience.

Some vendors argue that publishers, particularly news outlets, will not be affected like retail brands. However, I disagree with this. Of course a vendor offering a social media posting platform will tell you this their business model relies on this not being true.

If the average Facebook user has more than 200 friends and follows an average of 70 pages and the News Feed algorithm determines the top 300 posts that it thinks users care about most, where does that leave brand pages exactly?

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, and if you’re reading this article, I’d assume you’ve heard this before. The key is for brands to ensure their posts are highly engaging if they want to stay in the game and they need to make sure to pay attention to their insights if they want to stay successful. Unfortunately, most news publishers just steadily stream out their content without paying attention whether or not it resonates with their followers. Until they adapt a digital marketing philosophy about how they post their news stories, they will see huge reductions in their social media traffic.

I’ve had this love/hate relationship with Facebook in the years I’ve been working in online publishing. From a digital marketing standpoint, Facebook is great with the targeting capabilities it offers when you pay for advertising. From a publisher perspective, there’s no longer the free lunch it used to provide. This is a hard pill to swallow for many publishers because they spend a lot of resources in providing content to Facebook.

Will this impact publisher content? It will if they rely solely on inbound traffic from Facebook.

According to Facebook –

The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.

News publishers will be affected by this change and they will need to make decisions about what kind of resources they will need to put into Facebook to find the returns they’re looking for.