What Publishers Stand to Lose in the New FB Algorithm

facebook FB AlgorithmThe platform tightens the lid on publisher content…again. What’s at stake?

Facebook tweaks its algorithm, and the business world loses its mind, yet again. And with good reason, if you happen to publish business content on the social channel.

“Facebook has once again changed their News Feed algorithm, putting friends above publishers in ‘News Feed Values’ and ranking change,” writes Chris C. Anderson on LinkedIn. “Get ready to start seeing more posts of mom’s latest iteration of her famed tuna casserole, personal Facebook Live videos of your nephew streaming his latest play session on Xbox Live and less direct links to news that leads you outside of the Facebook mothership.”

With 1.65 billion month active viewers, Facebook can pretty much do what it wants.

“This is why Facebook has the ability to convince publishers to use Instant Articles and abandon a significant amount of direct traffic to their webpages,” Anderson continues. “This is why Facebook is able to say they’re focusing on video and Facebook Live and actually pay publishers and celebrities to create this content directly on Facebook. This is also why Facebook can suddenly change the news feed algorithm to devalue all of this in favor of user generated content getting a higher priority.”

The pain to publishers can’t be underestimated here: “This is another step in the continued devaluation of large publisher followings on Facebook,” says Joshua Benton of Harvard Nieman Lab. For publishers who are heavily reliant on Facebook traffic, they could be facing a big hit.

Anderson reminds us, though, that not all is doom.

“The smart publisher isn’t pulling their hair out about the Facebook News Feed algorithm change (yet) because the smart publisher isn’t just reacting to what Facebook does, they’re already focused on quality content and they’re looking at a variety of distribution points,” he writes.

Those distribution points could include their own sites, newsletters, syndication, other social channels and relevant content partnerships. And the key to success there will be quality content that engages…not the shopworn clickbait many publishers rely on now.

If ridding the news feed of that junk is one outcome, the news certainly isn’t all bad. And Anderson suggests that now may be the time for other platforms to step up and serve publishers better, to lessen Facebook’s grip on content.

“So while there are some very jittery social media editors, audience devs and Facebook focused publishers out there nervously biting their nails to the nub and wondering if they’ll be relevant in a few months, opportunities abound here and Facebook isn’t going away, it’s just changing once again,” he says.