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Facebook experiment could crush smaller publishers

By Shawn Knight ยท 6 replies
Oct 24, 2017
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  1. Social media – and Facebook in particular – has changed the game for publishers and businesses of all sizes. In short, if you don’t have a significant presence on social media, the odds of driving traffic to your site on a consistent basis aren’t very high.

    Conversely, Facebook hardly resembles what it once was from the viewpoint of the average user. Originally a collection of posts from friends and family, the News Feed has since been muddled down with entries from brands, athletes, entertainers, publishers and others – all vying for your attention.

    The familiar model is poised for change, however, with the ongoing rollout of the “Explore Feed,” a secondary feed designed to help users find new content from sources they don’t already follow. In some countries, Facebook is apparently taking things a step further with an experiment that’s having a devastating impact on publishers.

    Facebook is experimenting in six markets – Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia – with moving nearly all non-promoted posts to a secondary feed, thus leaving only posts from friends (and advertisements) in the main News Feed.

    The Guardian notes that users’ engagement with Facebook pages has dropped anywhere from 60 to 80 percent as a result. Filip Struhárik, a journalist at Slovakian newspaper Dennik N, says pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach.

    For larger sites with multiple ways to communicate with readers, the impact hasn’t been as noticeable. Smaller publishers that rely on social media, however, could see their business destroyed if the experiment is replicated more broadly.

    Facebook issued the following statement on the matter.

    “With all of the possible stories in each person’s feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages.”

    Matti Littunen, a senior research analyst with Enders Analysis, told the Guardian that the move was a classic Facebook play. “First give lots of organic reach to one content type, then they have to pay for reach, then they can only get through to anyone by paying.” The biggest hits, he said, will come to publishers like Business Insider, Huffington Post and BuzzFeed that create commoditized content that aims for the biggest possible reach.

    As Littunen explains, the experiment is clearly motivated by money on Facebook’s part. And while it may seem refreshing to rid the News Feed of such content, it could very well backfire. “News Feed without news. Just friends and sponsored content. People will find out how boring their friends are,” Littunen said.

    In a follow-up statement after the Guardian’s story was published, Facebook said it has no plans to roll the experiment out globally.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,295   +2,754

    Here's an experiment for Facebook. Shut down for 6 months and see how many, if anyone misses you .... hmmmm
  3. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,069   +1,096

    Oh dear God, Facebook attempting to make money on their own website?!?!? For shame!!
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  4. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,324   +1,431

    I stopped using it in January. Best decision I ever made. Dont miss it in the slightest, feel happier, less time wasted, and no farcebook tracking.

    Still annoyed my gaming groups refuse to stop using it though.
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  5. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 756   +509

    Here's a better experiment, let every Facebook user delete their account and never go back. When Facebook goes down in flames, from the ashes make sure its replacement addresses the many concerns they have with Facebook. Now there is a real experiment
  6. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,280

    I stopped using it in Jan as well. The only difference being that it was back in 2012.
  7. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,010   +522

    Anyone else raise an eyebrow at the markets Facebook chose to experiment in? Good number of them have experienced political turmoil in their recent past. Don't know if this in particular is significant to their experiment, but I doubt the countries were selected at random.

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