How should you ap­proach the Face­book News Feed changes as a news or­ga­ni­za­tion?

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Contents - ▶ BY PENNY RIOR­DAN GATE­HOUSE ME­DIA DI­REC­TOR OF DIG­I­TAL AU­DI­ENCE EN­GAGE­MENT

Face­book an­nounced in Jan­uary that it would de-pri­or­i­tize links from news out­lets in the News Feed.

In a post on the com­pany's me­dia blog, Mark Zucker­burg said that in re­cent years the News Feed has been crowded out by posts by busi­nesses and public pages.

From Zucker­berg's post: "Since there's more public con­tent than posts from your friends and fam­ily, the bal­ance of what's in News Feed has shifted away from the most im­por­tant thing Face­book can do — help us con­nect with each other."

Be­fore we think about strat­egy, let's de­fine a few things in this News Feed up­date.

What is an en­gag­ing post?

Face­book said it will pri­or­i­tize posts that spark "con­ver­sa­tions and mean­ing­ful in­ter­ac­tions be­tween peo­ple."

Posts that re­ceive more com­ments will be val­ued over some­thing more pas­sive, such as a like or a click-through to our web­sites. We en­cour­age dig­i­tal jour­nal­ists to en­gage with our au­di­ences and fo­cus on what con­tent has the most shares on a post. It’s im­por­tant that our dig­i­tal sites ac­cel­er­ate their so­cial me­dia ef­forts around com­ments and shares.

A strong cor­re­la­tion ex­ists be­tween posts that re­ceive a high num­ber of shares and com­ments as well.

Ed­i­tors can get this data in Face­book's In­sights an­a­lyt­ics.

In­ter­act­ing with a page

Posts will still ap­pear in the News Feed in dif­fer­ent ways, which are con­sis­tent with how the News Feed op­er­ates now:

• Peo­ple who fol­low a page who choose to see the page first (this fea­ture

has been avail­able)

• When friends or fam­ily share a post, which has al­ways been a key part of

how links spread through­out Face­book

Now that we un­der­stand what the News Feed changes mean, how will this im­pact our traf­fic?

Face­book says a page's reach, watch time, and video traf­fic could drop. Posts that re­ceive more in­ter­ac­tion, shared by friends and fam­ily, will still sur­face, as well as posts that read­ers share to their friends and fam­ily (as out­lined above).

For any pages that re­ceive lit­tle to no in­ter­ac­tion on posts, their traf­fic could drop sig­nif­i­cantly, how­ever.

Face­book traf­fic has been drop­ping for a while, more specif­i­cally in the fourth quar­ter of 2017. Parse.ly re­ported that Google re­fer­rals sur­passed Face­book re­fer­rals in the sec­ond half of last year.

Dig­i­tal-only sites such as Buz­zfeed re­ceive more than 50 per­cent of their traf­fic from Face­book. There have al­ready been some ca­su­al­ties of the News Feed changes, in­clud­ing a brand called Lit­tle Things, which shut down re­cently.

In an INMA we­bi­nar Jan. 16, Grze­gorz Piechota at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford said the big­gest im­pact will be on posts shared on a news page.

With the knowl­edge that the changes could neg­a­tively im­pact traf­fic, how

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