By: Farzin Andrew Espahani
Today’s publishers and marketers are constantly watching the trends and algorithms of social media sites in an attempt to build traffic to their content sites. Unfortunately, Facebook has now changed the way in which shared posts are seen by others.
On June 29th, 2016, Facebook reported in a blog post that they are increasing the priority of posts made by close acquaintances such as friends and family versus those shared by businesses, organizations, and other brands.
Adam Mosseri, the vice president of product management for Facebook, recently pointed out to the New York Times how the ecosystem for competition and growth for publishers continues to grow and strengthen. Because of this, it is believed these posts may supersede the posts from family and friends—the posts many people would prefer to view on their news feeds.
Though the change is recent, many publishers have already seen a drop in their views—some up to 42% from the previous month. Facebook only announces changes in the algorithm if it will have a significant impact on publisher traffic, which is exactly what will occur with these new so-called “improvements.” According to Parse.ly, most publisher traffic—approximately 40%–comes directly from this social media giant.
Here are some concerns that come to mind in regards to the changes that will occur due to this shift in Facebook algorithms:
The affect this will have on many publishers using Facebook as a traffic platform.
Many publishers may feel as though this won’t affect them nearly as much as they are led to believe. Publishers may encourage individuals, these “friends and family,” to share their posts so they receive high ranking in their news feeds. However, many large publishers that rely on sharing of news feed posts, such as Vox and BuzzFeed, will notice a considerable drop in traffic because these views will be harder to achieve with the new algorithm set forth by Facebook.
Many publishers will have to shell out money and pay more for traffic they were already receiving.
The first cut in brand reach on Facebook that occurred three years ago caused many publishers to start shelling out money in an attempt to get their posts seen. This algorithm will likely cause the same effect, and many businesses and brands will begin to pay money to Facebook to get their posts visible again.
The cost of advertising will continue to rise.
Facebook knows how businesses depend on its social media reach to promote content, and the cost of getting this content seen by others will likely rise in a steady yet noticeable manner. As seen by supply and demand trends, since more brands will be looking to purchase Facebook ads for promotion, the cost per engagement for these connections are going to grow.
Instant Articles will take a hit.
In the past year, many brands have taken advantage of Instant Articles. These are articles that publishers can post directly to Facebook for improved prioritization in the news feed. They provide reliable links to publisher sites with a comparable CPM. However, this algorithm shift is expected to hit just as hard as traditional publisher posts. At the same time, it will likely make publishers unsure as to whether or not they want to give their content straight to Facebook and instead reroute the traffic back to their originally owned websites and blogs.
Video posts will also be affected in a negative way.
Many marketers have been jumping on the bandwagon of posting videos thanks to Facebook’s autoplay strategy. However, these numbers are highly inflated but hasn’t kept publishers from offering video posts as a way to catch the attention of others through their news feed. As marketers begin to notice how the algorithm changes the way autoplay videos are viewed, they will likely jump off the bandwagon in an attempt to find more cost-effective ways of drawing desired traffic to their site.
Native advertising will likely be affected.
Facebook recently rolled out a requirement that publishers tag brands in their posts when they share content from others. Native advertising allows for the original brand to get the post insights which made it easier for these brands to set up a successful and inexpensive advertising campaign. However, this does not provide the results many companies are truly seeking, including the results that they could achieve with more organic website traffic. This results in views from Facebook users who may not even be readers or followers of a certain publication or brand. It also opens up viewing as to the margin these brands are taking on these campaigns. But this isn’t all bad. This change now allows publishers the ability to share branded content on their own page in an attempt to increase their organic traffic, though this can make publishers resort to buying traffic with native advertising more often than they are now.
Facebook will cause users to become more narrow-minded with related content.
It has been no surprise that Facebook has begun to change the content that is viewed in a more personal standpoint. This means showing content that matches that of our like-minded family and friends. In turn, this causes us to be much more narrow-minded than we were before the shift.
All in all, it is important for marketers and publishers to stay abreast of the continued changes on social media algorithms in an attempt to stay “ahead of the game” and maintain their presence in an ever-growing market. Considering Facebook is one of the primary methods of receiving information for many online uses, it is important to consider ways to make algorithm changes work for us. Facebook has a power and force that is unlike anything that has been seen in marketing today.