For the past year and a half, a number of publishers and Facebook page owners have benefited from a surge of traffic sent to them by the social network, Facebook was giving pages and more specifically, advertisers, so much priority, more than photos of what your friends had for dinner, or that funny cat your friend has that he keeps talking about, or the first steps of your nephew!
Publishers post content to Facebook with links, and thousands — or millions — of Facebook users see it and interact with it. But publishers have also known that the flood of traffic may not last, and it won’t, and Facebook says it’s making three big changes to its NewsFeed algorithm that could mean these traffic glory days may soon be over.
“We want to let you know about a change that may affect referral traffic for publishers,” Facebook product manager Max Eulenstein and user experience researcher Lauren Scissors wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “In some cases, post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline.”
Here are the three big changes, as outlined by Scissors and Eulenstein:
Facebook users will now be able to see more than one NewsFeed post from the same source in a row. Facebook’s algorithm previously prevented that. Facebook says it’s “relaxing this rule” so that users who don’t see much content in their feeds can start seeing more.
Facebook will start prioritizing NewsFeed content posted by friends. “The second update tries to ensure that content posted directly by the friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links, will be higher up in News Feed so you are less likely to miss it,” Facebook writes. It says you’ll still see content from news organizations and Facebook pages you enjoy.
Facebook will begin hiding posts that say what your friends have liked or commented on. This sounds like it could really diminish a publisher’s second-hand reach. “This update will make these stories appear lower down in News Feed or not at all,” Facebook says.
The first algorithm change may actually be good for publishers as people will now be able to see more than one of their articles in a row. The last two points are more worrisome.
Basically, if people enjoy content written by friends more than publishers, they’ll start seeing friends’ posts more and publishers’ posts less.
The third point could hurt publishers’ reach and virality by removing or limiting all second-hand interactions with their content from the NewsFeed.
The updates should be rolling out over the next several weeks, according to a Facebook spokesperson.
Other publisher changes may also be coming to Facebook shortly. The New York Times reported that a few publishers may soon be publishing articles to Facebook directly before posting them to their websites.It’s also important to keep in mind that the impact on publishers will vary considerably.
What you see in your NewsFeed depends on a variety of factors, such as the pages you follow, the content you interact with, and the people you’re close to. So, even if you don’t follow a lot of news outlets on Facebook, if friends that you interact with a lot are constantly sharing stories, you might still see those stories high up in your NewsFeed.
The move comes just after Google made a big change to its mobile search algorithm that will favor mobile-friendly websites over desktop sites. The change sounds minor, but it could potentially be really damaging for millions of websites that could lose out on traffic since their page ranking might be affected. The change has even earned itself the nickname “Mobile-geddon,” although it’s likely to affect small businesses the most rather than publishers.
At The Social Clinic, since being a social business consultancy and Facebook’s exclusive Labs partner in Saudi Arabia, we take into account all the changes before they happen, and this is why our research and strategy department is constantly working on creating & adapting client content, plans, and campaigns to achieve optimal results.