As you likely remember, Facebook made an algorithm change last December, which was designed to improve the information people saw on their ‘news feed.’ Specifically, it was meant to improve the news content that was displayed from media sites. It has been about three months since the change, and some interesting statistics are starting to roll out from this move.
The first major statistics is regarding ‘social publishing’ sites, which primarily find news stories and repackage them for publication. Sites such as Upworthy, Elite Daily, Vice, and others all experienced significant drops in traffic since the change. Here are a few of the hardest hit sites, and the percentage of traffic lost from Facebook’s change:
- Upworthy – Dropped by 51%
- Elite Daily – Dropped by 47%
- Distractify – Dropped by 30%
- Vice – Dropped by 22%
- BroBible – Dropped by 17%
- Huffington Post – Dropped by 16%
- Thought Catalog – Dropped by 7%
These are all major sites, which have become successful largely because of traffic they were getting from Facebook. While these sites created little original content themselves, they did gather up news and information from other sites and repackage it in more interesting and engaging ways, so there is certainly an argument that they were providing value. Plus, with millions of people visiting their pages from Facebook, many obviously liked what they were doing.
This is, however, one more example of why it is never a good idea for marketers or website owners to rely heavily on one source for traffic. Site owners learned this about Google and SEO over the past few years, and it seems they are having to learn it again with Facebook algorithm changes.
The social sharing site that wasn’t negatively affected by the Facebook change, also happens to one that buys a lot of advertisements from Facebook. Buzzfeed is one of the largest social sharing sites, and also acts as something like an advertisement agency for certain brands. They create content about a specific brand, and then promote it on Facebook through normal social sharing, as well as with Facebook ads.
Of course, BuzzFeed also creates a lot of normal content that is shared throughout Facebook and other social media sites naturally. There is no way to know whether Facebook is keeping Buzzfeed traffic high because of the fact that they buy a lot of advertisements, or if it is just a coincidence, but the numbers do look suspicious at the least. Whatever the truth is, Buzzfeed has only seen growth in the amount of traffic they are getting from Facebook since the algorithm change, so they must be doing something right.