Is Facebook a publisher’s friend?

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One year ago, Facebook started to prioritise publisher’s content and video when they announced Instant Article. Last week, Facebook reported to show more posts from friends and family over content coming from Pages. Should businesses and publishers that rely on Facebook for customer engagement and referral traffic be worried?

The new changes to the feed indicate that Facebook is returning to its origins. “We often make improvements to News Feed, and when we do, we rely on a set of core values,” one of which ranks above all others: “Getting people the stories that matter to them most,” Adam Mosseri, the vice-president of product management for the news feed, noted on the company blog.

Who will take the consequences?

Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. Lars Backstrom, Facebook Engineering Director

If the majority of your referral traffic comes directly from Page posts, than you will experience a great impact of these algorithm changes. The new algorithm will prioritize shared, commented and liked posts over blunt content. Still, the specific impact on the Pages’ distribution and news feed priority may vary depending on your audience.

This return to core values could be terrible for the media industry, which has developed around Facebook and other Social Media platforms in the last few years. Most of the news organizations rely on the social network as one of the main distribution channels for their stories, videos, and other content. According to Statista, in the first half of 2016 more than 40% of the total referral traffic for news websites was coming from Facebook.

Moreover, research from the Pew Research Center reveals that more than 66% of Facebook users get their news updates from their own news feeds.

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What to do as a publisher?

With such high ratings of Facebook influence and impact on publishers’ business, this change is for sure not to be ignored.

One of the first things you could do to prevent your traffic drop drastically is to focus on highly shareable content. Focus more on trending topics, how-to or funny videos, rather than negative news or less popular matters.

We encourage Pages to post things that their audience is likely to share with their friends. Lars Backstrom, Facebook Engineering Director