The abrupt shutdown following Facebook’s recent algorithm change should make publishers nervous.
LittleThings was a digital media startup that began in 2015 which published positive, uplifting stories geared towards American women. Its business model was built around the recognition that Facebook’s platform was a potential gold mine for publishers that could develop highly-shareable and social-friendly content that could generate massive amounts of engagement and traffic, which could then equal ad revenue.
And in less than three years it amassed a Facebook following that was just a tick under 13M. For context, that’s an audience half the size of AARP The Magazine, which purportedly has the largest circulation of any magazine. For further context, in 2015, LittleThings had the most popular Facebook post. Period.
It’s now abruptly shut down, citing Facebook’s algorithm change taking out 75% of their organic traffic.
LittleThings’ fate is symptomatic of what could reasonably be a devastating ripple effect that could change the trajectory of publishing. I know that sounds extreme, but I really don’t think it is.
LittleThings wasn’t unique. A lot of publishers still depend on Facebook. Some have similar business models, whereas others are more diversified. Nevertheless, everybody relies on it to some degree to drive traffic and serve as a home away from home. So with that in mind, nobody in publishing should feel comfortable right now.