The war between Facebook and Publishers continues. Publishers desperately want their content visible to their audience, while Facebook simply wants to keep users happy by showing them the content they want to see on their feed. #Friendmageddon is the latest battle that has left publishers shaking in their boots.
When Facebook announced a change to its algorithm that would affect publishers, many publishers rushed to Twitter (Facebook’s rival) to announce their frustrations. The hashtag #Friendmageddon was born and quickly trended on the social network.
The famous hashtag was used to discuss and share stories about the latest algorithm changes that “downplay stories from publishers on users’ news feed, in order to promote more personal stories from their favorite people.” Downplaying stories leads to publishers getting shorter reach with their posts. This makes it even more difficult for publishers to get their brands out in front of their audiences.
This shift away from news stories has been happening for the past year (The one exception to this is their new Facebook Instant Articles). SocialFlow was one of the first to alert publishers to the decrease in reach when they observed a drop in reach of a shocking 42% just in four months (January to May).
As disheartening as it is to publishers, there is nothing much they can do but try to work with what they know about the Facebook algorithm change (#Friendmaggedon). According to The New York Times, “Publishers have little choice but to deal with the changes that Facebook makes, given the dependent relationship news media companies have with the social network.”
Since website traffic trumps organic search traffic nowadays, publishers cannot abandon the use of Facebook for advertising. To make Facebook work for them, publishers need to motivate users to engage with their content to show Facebook they really want to see their posts on their newsfeed.
Facebook is not dead for publishers. It’s alive and well for publishers who know how to play the game. Part of that game involves sharing the same mission as Facebook has for its users.
The focus for publishers on Facebook should be on creating posts that will be shared by their fans. Neil Patel, Internet marketing expert, explains the benefit of shared posts brilliantly.
Posts need to be interesting to the users that have liked the Page, they need to be shared by users, and the Page must have a reputation of creating valuable content. In addition to those factors, publishers need to know the types of posts their fans like the most and post them regularly on their Page.
Shares are crucial to the success of a Page now. It leads to more visibility and an increase in a Page’s reputation, which leads to greater reach.
Facebook said this on its blog about #Friendmaggedon:
“Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience. For example, 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. We encourage Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends.”
Publishers must think about what their audiences are more likely to share. Only that will help them increase their reach from their Pages.
Figuring out what gets shared is not difficult. Looking at the trends of the day or following fans to see what they are interested in on Facebook can give publishers all of the information they need to start publishing share-worthy content.
Brian Boland, the VP of Advertising Technology at Facebook says, “Publish great content – content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think or, in some other way, adds value to their lives.”
Facebook users want to have fun while learning something new. If publishers can take the services and products they are promoting and fit them into those two criteria, there will be shares, and then there will be better reach for their Pages.
The war between Facebook and publishers is not ending anytime soon. Just as Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University says, “…ownership of the user is a central tension between news producers and platforms.” The only way to get through #Friendmaggedon and future ones is to focus on users and what they truly want from their social network.
If you are looking to focus on creating user-friendly content on Facebook, then reach out to us on Shout for a free initial consultation where we review the best approaches to avoid the #friendmaggedon in your business.