Facebook Changes Newsfeed Balance Against Publishers

6th July 2016

Facebook is set to undergo a number of changes that will affect the balance of stories in the newsfeed in favour of stories from friends, rather than originating from businesses or organisations as well as influencer marketing activity. The aim appears to be to take the site back towards its origins as a site to share information between people with real-life connections.
Whilst this might seem to be good news for users of the site, it means that publishers and brands will yield less organic traffic from the site.


Facebook Statement of Changes to The News Feed

Facebook confirmed the change in a recent announcement:
“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.”


What The Changes to Facebook News Feed Mean to Page Publishers

Organic traffic from social has been tracking downward for some time. Stats from Search Engine Watch suggest that organic traffic has declined by around 42% in the past six months. After the news feed update, Facebook users will see an even smaller amount of news in their feed. As fewer people will be shown the content, there is likely to be a decline in traffic levels, which will ultimately affect the success of publishers’ posts.

This update is not the end for companies using Facebook organically to reach consumers, but it does mean that authentic, interesting, appealing content, is now required, rather than reusing the same items.

The solution to this is likely to mean narrowing the scope of articles to make them hyper-relevant to the targeted group. For instance, a skin care company might find it better to target their articles to certain ethnicities rather than to all people, to increase the density of sharing within a group. The key now seems to be to build a brand by using highly relevant content, rather than simply shouting “Buy Me!” from every post.

The enlargement of the filter bubble is concerning for publishers looking to break through to reach new consumers. The secret to success is likely to be a combination of techniques to break the bubble; creating content that is worthy of being shared and then promoting that using significant influencers to push content towards narrowly defined key groups.

It’s clear that sharing, liking and commenting is what Facebook sees as its lifeblood. This focus on viral content ensures users see something that is valued and is relevant to their life, and more importantly, something that they want to share.

This new update effectively means that Facebook is using relevancy in a similar manner to how Google returns SERP’s pages that it hopes are relevant to the searcher as part of its personalised results.


Solutions to Low Facebook Post Response Rates:

Facebook has also made some concessions towards its content providers. This includes letting publishers use instant articles to collect email newsletter signups. This could be used to alert interested parties to new content

One possible solution to the lower response rates could be to emulate Gawker Media, who now append comments from their own platforms to articles posted on Facebook. Whilst these initial comments are not considered by Facebook, they do provide a starting point to grow the conversation on the social platform.  This can be a useful tactic to use if your content is posted by influencers on social media sites

Facebook paid advertising is not affected by the changes to the news feed for organic stories