- Facebook is making a change to its news feed algorithm to emphasize posts from users' friends and family, including photos, videos, status updates and links. The move will inherently de-emphasize posts from publishers and brands.
- “Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages," Lars Backstrom, engineering director, Facebook, wrote in a blog post. "The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience.”
- For marketers and publishers, this means that getting people to share your content is now more valuable than sharing that content yourself.
Facebook has a history of making news feed changes that dramatically impact organic traffic to brand and publisher Pages.
At times, it seems these changes have forced marketers and publishers to use Facebook on a more pay-for-play basis by entering into its advertising ecosystem, rather than working to build an organic audience of Facebook fans. On the other hand, Facebook has made it clear that it is looking to optimize the user experience. The social media company has even made moves within its ad platforms to both enhance the user experience as well as advertiser value, such as dropping banner ads for higher value native and video ad formats.
“Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family," Facebook wrote in explaining the reasoning for the new algorithm. "Our top priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook."
The impact on brands and publishers could be significant. Brands should expect their organic Facebook traffic to go down as a result of the changes, bringing a renewed focus to getting influential users to share their content instead.
"[I]f 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," Backstrom said in the blog post. "We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends."
Expect Facebook to continue to be very active in offering marketers new paid opportunities to reach its users, such as its Facebook Live streaming video feature (ads are coming soon, according to sources) and regularly rolling out new ad units and formats.