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This news may come a few months late in the world of social media marketing strategies but no doubt the implications on this news looking forward into the years to come is something that’s noteworthy for all think tanks and online marketers out there. This is because, in the first week of March 2018, Facebook made some changes that affected small to medium scale entrepreneurs, especially in the online social media sharing industry. Sites that rely heavily on shared traffic content like Buzzfeed and Vice News has been hit by the waves of these changes and this article briefly touches as to how and why.

The March Facebook Algorithm changed in such a way that content from publishing companies take a back seat in the user’s Newsfeed in favor of content posted by friends and family. This caused concern from media companies as this would push the numbers of their readership down to a significant degree if more and more people ignored the content they publish. And indeed their concerns were not unfounded as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself expected that these changes will impact negatively on the referral traffic from these publishing media companies. A web analytics company called SimilarWeb has released their measured rankings of the publishing media companies that rely heavily or almost solely on internet traffic. These are:

  1. (with 48.2% over total traffic coming from social)
  2. (48.1%)
  3. (44.2%)
  4. (43.7%)
  5. (38.2%)
  6. (38.0%)
  7. (33.7%)
  8. (28.4%)
  9. (26.6%)
  10. (26.0%)
  11. (23.2%)
  12. (23.1%)

This news was already terrible in itself but it only got worse. According to the same analytics firm, the biggest and most recognizable names in media content publishing were the ones that were impacted the hardest. Names such as HuffingtonPost, Buzzfeed, and Mashable have suffered a serious decline in desktop and mobile traffic for the last two years and counting. While there may be many factors that caused this decline, Ethan Chernofsky believes that the primary cause of this was that there were just too many eggs in the basket. Meaning there were too many publishers who publish popular content, and sometimes, the same content, that the Facebook algorithm cannot possibly prioritize them all at once. And thus, it becomes a zero-sum game. The fewer people visited these large sites translated to an overall drop in the traffic of their websites.

However, the giant mainstream media companies like the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post had seen a steady upward trend in their total traffic in the past two years with about a 22% increase.   This is still according to SimilarWeb. This is because they rely on only about 10% of their site traffic from social media websites. People who wanted to look for news are most likely going to go straight to their respective websites. Large media corporations such as the one mentioned typically already have a strong readership following and do not rely on attention-grabbing content such as Mashable or Buzzfeed, although one may argue that these corporations sometimes fall in the same pit every now and then but that’s neither here nor there, the takeaway from this is that companies who immediately direct traffic to their websites are far more likely to be impervious to the new Facebook update.

Take for instance Instagram and Pinterest, companies that have direct to website traffic; these platforms do not suffer much from the new changes that were implemented by a single social media platform because they find ways to get the user go directly to their site and not rely on, say, official Facebook pages although this does not mean they will be removing their pages any time soon. Fortunately for Buzzfeed, they have been aiming to subvert these potentially harmful changes by expanding to new forms of interacting with their customers such as making newsletters and producing more shareable content that people can pass around their friends and family. BuzzFeed’s vice president of operations Michelle Kempner also stated that they will be focusing more on evergreen articles moving forward, instead of doing content that would just be interesting for a moment then be forgotten easily by the loads of other content that’s bombarding one’s Newsfeed.

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