A few days ago publishers were freaking out over new developments within the Facebook algorithm when they saw scary drops in reach and traffic on Facebook. For publishers who rely on social media traffic channels like Facebook fan pages to generate site visitors and monetize them, this can be a complete nightmare.
Can you imagine losing your primary traffic source almost overnight without being able to do anything about it? This is any publisher’s worst nightmare. Luckily the sky isn’t falling, yet. Some news reports might have had you stressed out over nothing. Let’s take a closer look at what happened.
Sources from Mashable and reports like this one on Medium.com talked about how Facebook launched a secondary newsfeed called the Explore tab. The goal of this secondary news feed was to separate posts from friends and family with posts from pages you like and follow. This was especially true in the test countries which included Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. In these countries, Facebook page owners had to pay for their page posts to be seen by users in their main news feed. If they didn’t pay, users would only discover their page posts via the Explore tab.
Reports from CrowdTangle indicated that this meant some Slovakian Facebook fan pages lost out on a ton of traffic, likes, and shares, approximately four times less the usual amount.
What you need to keep in mind about these developments is that they are merely tests. Although the future of your publishing business might hang in the balance, especially if you rely on free Facebook traffic via your fan pages, Facebook has no plans to introduce other markets to these developments at this point. Look at what Adam Mosseri, Facebook News Feed Head, had to say on the 23rd of October:
There have been a number of reports about a test we’re running in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. Some have interpreted this test as a future product we plan to deliver globally. We currently have no plans to roll this test out further.
This is a huge sigh of relief for many publishers. Some publishers have spent thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars building up their fan base on Facebook so losing out on the potential traffic that audience could generate would be catastrophic. Facebook is always trying to improve their platform, and since users have indicated they want channels for browsing friends and family content, they are testing it. That is where the Explore tab comes into play.
People tell us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family. We are testing having one dedicated space for people to keep up with their friends and family, and another separate space, called Explore, with posts from pages.
Just to confirm that you don’t have to start paying for your fan page posts to display on the news feed, Facebook had this to say:
There is no current plan to roll this out beyond these test countries or to charge pages on Facebook to pay for all their distribution in News Feed or Explore. Unfortunately, some have mistakenly made that interpretation — but that was not our intention.
Facebook went on the clarify that the Explore tab released in the test batch of countries is not the same as those published in other areas. Outside of the test countries, the Explore tab is just an additional tab with content focused on user interests. Posts from fan pages will still appear on a user’s primary news feed as before.
A wake-up call or nothing to concern yourself with?
For Facebook to make such a drastic change to their algorithm and completely remove Facebook fan page posts from news feeds might not be a smart move. In fact, the general idea of it almost feels like a complete scam. Motivate users to build fan pages where they can reach their intended audience and establish their presence on Facebook only to tell them that their posts won’t reach that user base anymore. This move will receive a lot of backlash from publishers and could cause Facebook’s advertising model a lot of damage. We don’t expect this to happen anytime soon.
However, in the world of digital advertising things are always changing. If you are one of those publishers who rely on Facebook for the lion’s share of your traffic, especially via Facebook fan pages, maybe it’s time to start diversifying. Grow your presence within Google with SEO, build an email list, create a loyal follower base on Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and any other social network related to your niche. You can even start building additional websites that you use to funnel traffic to your main properties.
Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about your Facebook fan page posts becoming null and void – at least until Facebook decides to do another one of their “tests.”
Until then, diversify and optimize. For diversification, that may depend on your business, niche, and current skill set, but when it comes to optimizing, MonetizeMore can help. We specialize in ad optimization and partner with publishers to ensure they generate the most from their existing traffic and don’t leave money on the table. Be sure to contact us for a free consultation and find out how we can help you grow your publisher business today!