Oh Facebook. You went and did it again.
Last week, Facebook set off a flurry of internet chatter when it announced that, once again, it would be making changes to its enigmatic News Feed algorithm. But this time, publishers would be feeling the burn.
For several years we have seen news outlets and publishers turning more and more to Facebook to expand its reach and share content–tapping into the social media juggernaut’s massive user base to grow readership. Now however, Facebook is now taking a swipe at those efforts, announcing that content from family and friends will be promoted more heavily than publishers.
What does this mean? It means posts directly from publishers will show up less prominently, potentially decreasing clicks and links back to their own sites. That’s a big loss for publishers who have grown to count on Facebook’s referral traffic.
So, is it really time for publishers to hit an official panic button? Not necessarily. As part of an increasing trend among both Facebook and Google, part of the goal is really to make businesses (including publishers) create content that people want. Content is still King…in fact, it might just be a Supreme Dictator at this point and this is just another example of how this rings true. How? This new algorithm still allows publisher content that your friends and family interact with appear higher in your feed. That’s the key…interaction. So….if you create cool and authentic content that inspires people to interact and engage…guess what? You are still going to show up in News Feeds.
There is no doubt publishing houses and news outlets are still going to take issue with the change and it’s going to add another layer to the love-hate relationship they have with the social media giant who, intentionally or not, has become a primary source of news for many users. Even though they increasingly rely on Facebook, in some instances it has hurt publishers’ efforts as people turn to the social media site, not just to see pictures of their friend’s kids, but to get current news and information.
If you ask Facebook they will tell you they are making this change, “so that people can see what they care about first, and don’t miss important stuff from their friends.” Much of that is true and we applaud them for constantly updating their site so that we, as users, can stay connected with the things, people and places that matter most to us.
But make no mistake about it, this is also business for Facebook. Changes to their News Feed almost always are about keeping people on their site longer…if you’re seeing things in your feed that you want to see, the longer you will stay (and come back!). And, the longer you stay, the better it is for advertisers and ultimately more lucrative for Facebook.
So what’s the moral of the story? Facebook’s always going to tweak its News Feed and continue to reward content that people “like” and care about. So, what’s a business (or publisher) to do? Make.Good.Content. It’s really that simple. If you are sharing information that your audiences find inspiring or interesting…they will engage. They will post, comment and share. And when they do, you will be rewarded for it.
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