Did Facebook Just Declare War On These Sites?

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Has the internet became Facebook and is it smart to base so much of your traffic on one social network?

Salon has a great story about drop in Facebook traffic:

The social media networking site Facebook recently rejiggered the algorithm it uses to determine what its users see highlighted on their “news feeds,” the center column of shared links, pictures and posts that determines most of what a user sees at the site.

This algorithm change seems to effect sites like Elite Daily, Distractfy, ViralNova, and Upworthy.

DigiDay reports that:

Between November 2013 and January 2014, a long list of so-called “social publishers” saw their traffic dip substantially, according to comScore. Traffic to Upworthy dropped 51 percent. Traffic to Elite Daily dropped 47 percent. Traffic to Vice dropped 22 percent, to BroBible by 17 percent, to Huffington Post by 16 percent. Between December and January traffic to Distractify and Thought Catalog dropped 30 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

Before this time all these sites had month to month traffic growth.

Did Facebook Just Declare War On These Sites? image socialpubstraffic

It’s hard to say if this drop in traffic really is the result of a Facebook change. It could be that users just are hip to the game of viral headlines and the stories that follow.

If there is some form of fatigue by users that would make this cycle of the latest web trend one of the quickest to come and go. It’s my guess that it is a combination of both with maybe a dash of real world ad revenue decisions being made.

All the stories I’ve seen on this topic one site still seems on top: BuzzFeed. This site just happens to spend quite a bit on Facebook promotions. I don’t know for sure but I doubt these others sites (other than UpWorthy) spend even in the same realm. Is there a correlation there? Who knows but Facebook is basically an advertising platform.

What can we take away from these changes? First, don’t rely on one platform for 90% of your traffic. Next, all these sites have learned how to create curiosity with the headline or an image. I don’t see this as a trend but if the payoff isn’t great enough there will be a certain amount of fatigue (or lack of trust) by the audience.


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