Want to see more baby photos on Facebook? You might have just gotten your wish. The world’s largest social network recently announced it would be tweaking its algorithm to show users more posts from friends and family.
The decision is consistent with Facebook’s News Feed Values, where content that informs or entertains takes a backseat to content from firsthand connections (i.e., your friends and family). So, what does that mean for the countless publishers who are increasingly relying on Facebook for web traffic? Well, take it from the social network itself:
“This update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages.”
That’s an important truth to note, and it represents the natural consequences of the algorithm change (there’s only so much News Feed space to go around.) Facebook, however, was careful to note that high user engagement would keep publisher content showing up in News Feeds:
“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.”
Regardless, we’ll need to brace for a few changes from the algo tweak. Let’s take a look at what it means:
You may have to pay more for traffic
There are some industry pros, like Parul Guliani at Forbes, that predict brands and publishers will try to stem the tide of lost traffic by paying for sponsored content on Facebook. It’s a clever move by the social network, Guliani says: Many publishers have become reliant on Facebook’s traffic, and now they’ll have to pony up for pageviews.
Shareable content will win
As many industry observers expect, publishers that create eminently shareable content (see BuzzFeed, Mic, NowThis, etc.) will be less affected by the Facebook algo change. Creating highly engaging content has always been important on Facebook, but doing so is now more imperative than ever. Time magazine, speaking about news outlets, wrote: “The savviest newsrooms will create content that compels readers not just to click and open a story, but to share it on their own pages as well.” Most brands would do well to heed that analysis — it could be key to their survival on Facebook.
It’s worth noting that if your brand creates content that spreads like wildfire, you might proceed to thrive on Facebook. According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest Facebook algo change “actually led to a bump” in traffic for media brand (and inspirational-content extraordinaire) LittleThings.
Expect more changes
Added Anderson: “These algorithms are pretty complicated. I’m not sure even Facebook engineers know their impact, they just have to measure and respond.”
The lesson? Stay on your toes and always expect Facebook to evolve. The more cautious among us might even say you should diversify your traffic sources beyond Facebook, and they’d have a good point.
Brands that have put too many eggs in Facebook’s basket have gotten burned before. The New York Times, for example, notes that the fortunes of game developer Zynga took a serious nosedive after Facebook “made a set of changes on how its gaming-related content appeared on the social network.”
The implication is clear: Take steps to cast a wider traffic net in a harmonious cross-channel strategy. The strength of your brand could depend on it! Looking for different platforms to create a presence on? Check out our articles on Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest.
Also, to connect with your audience on social media, you’ll need to know how to engage millennials. Take a look at our guide Marketing to Millennials: Engaging a Generation of Visual Buyers today.