The good old days of driving thousands or even millions of referral traffic from social media, especially from Facebook has now been coming to an end.
According to BuzzSumo, in the past three years, referral traffic from Facebook has been continuously declining. And this is due to the fact that Facebook has been working on keeping their community’s discussion and interaction from going elsewhere.
Facebook has been tweaking their newsfeed algorithm since 2015 for the main purpose of filtering low-quality content from publishers while pushing content from friends and family to increase personal connection and meaningful interaction.
This has led to a consistent steep decline of organic referral traffic from the social media giant which has affected many brands and publishers.
History of Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm Changes Since 2015
Marketers and brands cannot fully rely anymore in organic referral traffic from the social networking giant because it has been imposing so many changes (especially against low quality content and links) in their newsfeed algorithm. Let’s take a look what these changes are and find out the specific reasons why they are imposed. These can actually help you understand why your referral traffic has been declining.
Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm Changes Timeline
2015 – Facebook started implementing changes that reduces the appearance of hoax news and promotional posts. They also implemented the prioritization of the posts from profiles that are set to “See First”.
After surveying 500,000 of their users, Facebook found out that most of them prefer to see posts from their friends and family and are not excited to see promotional posts even from the pages that they follow.
This prompted Facebook to crack down pages that publish promotional posts that only aim to convince their followers to buy their products or download their apps.
After the cracking down of promotional posts, Facebook turned its focus on providing their users the ability to customize their newsfeed so that they can automatically be updated with those posts that they wanted to see often. This has been achieved by rolling out the “See First” feature.
2016 – Facebook revealed the “core values” behind their newsfeed algorithm emphasizing their focus on prioritizing posts from the people their users care most about. They also focused more in highlighting informative posts.
During this year, the social networking giant had also cracked down clickbait headlines and had also banned fake news sites from using their advertisement platform.
The secret behind Facebook’s algorithm changes that’s been a mystery to many has been revealed during this time. The social networking giant has finally shared to the public the “core values” that help them determine what shows up and should be prioritized in the newsfeed.
Posts from friends and family are the ones Facebook users care the most about, thus these are the ones that are prioritized and highlighted most in the newsfeed. These posts boost social connection, the very main reason why people hang out in Facebook.
It was also revealed that Facebook gives priority to informative posts and those ones that are written to entertain. Authenticity is also part of their core values.
Facebook cracked down click-bait headlines and links. This has been one of the most annoying occurrences in the newsfeed section as complained and reported by thousands of users. This latest update aims to classify click-bait posts as spam and filter them out.
During this month, Facebook had also made changes in their algorithm in order to enable their newsfeed to predict and highlight informative posts. They came up with this after they surveyed their users. These posts are somehow related to their users’ likes and their engagement with other posts.
Facebook had finally banned fake news sites from using their advertising platform. This happened after Google’s of fake news sites by de-indexing them from their search results.
The proliferation of fake news sites sharing false information in Facebook, especially those ones that are politically-biased, prompted the social networking giant to axe them for good.
2017 – Facebook started cracking down all low quality sites, spammy, and engagement bait posts in the newsfeed.
Because of the proliferation of low quality posts and malicious ads, Facebook decided to diminish them by burying them at the bottom of the newsfeed.
Low quality posts are those ones that contain very little substantive content filled with disruptive and shocking, and malicious advertisements.
Facebook had put an end to spammers by demoting their links in the newsfeed. They are those ones who share multiple posts over and over again in daily basis. These posts usually redirect to shady or spammy websites.
According to the social networking giant, spammy links are those ones that contain low quality content which aims to get more clicks, sensationalize a topic, and cultivate misinformation.
Engagement bait posts were demoted in the newsfeed because Facebook had received many complaints from users that they are spammy. Most users’ perception about this kind of posts are negative because it is believed that they are there for monetization purposes only.
A post is used as an engagement bait when it asks users to vote using reactions or comments, tag, share, and other forms of activities that can increase interactions.
Facebook warned pages and businesses that using this kind of tactic can lead to demotion which can cause a massive drop of their reach.
2018 – Facebook highlighted meaningful interactions as the present and future of social connectivity. They also reinforce strict filtering of news content and prioritization of content from local news.
Meaningful and genuine interactions among friends, according to Facebook studies, is what promotes a strong well-being. This is the very reason why on this update, marketers and publishers have to rethink their social media strategy.
Mark Zuckerberg said that he is changing the goal he gives to his product teams. That is from helping users find relevant content to helping them get more meaningful social interactions.
Although this is a good news for ordinary users, those who use Facebook for business such as brands, publishers, marketers, and news sites can expect a decrease in engagement and reach.
On this month, Facebook had also followed up with another update that aims to provide their users news from trusted sources only. They also pushed the prioritization of local news in the newsfeed. This is due to the fact that their studies revealed that their users are not only interested in keeping tabs with their friends and family, but they are also interested to know the happenings within their locality.
So, from this timeline, you can now clearly see in details why your referral traffic has been dwindling. Facebook doesn’t believe anymore that posts from brands or businesses improve the overall quality of social interactions within their community.
What You Need to Do Now?
It is quite obvious now that Facebook is already focusing more on personal connections that gives meaningful interactions among its users. So, how does a brand can have the opportunity of interacting with potential customers in Facebook? Here are a few ways that you can do.
1. Go for Sponsored Post
As what most marketers have been talking about, Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm changes have served not only their users but their business as well.
The most obvious option now for brands and publishers is to use Facebook’s advertising platform to promote their posts, products, and services. Good thing advertising in Facebook doesn’t cost that much especially if you are resourceful and creative.
2. Ask your Followers to Opt for the “See First” Setting on your Page
This is another way to win back your declining reach and engagement. You can simply ask your followers to modify their following setting for your page to “See First”.
They can do this by simply visiting your page, hover their mouse to the following button to show a drop down menu. From that drop down menu, they can select “See First”. That way, every time you fan page has a new update, your followers can see it on top of their newsfeed.
3. Work with a Social Media Influencer to Promote Your Brand
Social influencers are usually people who are popular in their circles. They often get more engagement and know how to interact with their followers.
Working with an influencer can help you reach out to potential customers who haven’t heard yet about your brand. It is a good idea to pick a social media influencer who has been using your product or services because it’s more authentic compared to those ones who haven’t have any experience with your brand.
4. Create a Group for Your Fan Page
Latest observations from marketers and active social media users revealed that posts from Groups are now given better visibility in the newsfeed. Creating a group for your followers is another way of giving them more opportunities to engage with your brand.
What if All These Won’t Still Get Back All the Referral Traffic that You’ve Lost?
There are chances that the remedies above won’t work or the results are not sufficient anymore. Should you still force it? Or you can just simply go all out with SEO?
In search engine optimization, there’s an equal chance for everyone to make it to the top and gain more referral traffic. Also, studies have shown that those kind of traffic are usually the type that highly convert compared to those ones from social media.