Viral publishers see sharp engagement drops on Facebook

WNIP reported last week how online publisher LittleThings had shut down after Facebook’s algorithm change cut its organic reach by 75 percent. But it’s not the only social publisher that’s in danger, according to Digiday, with data from several analytics firms suggesting that many publishers now find themselves in unchartered waters.

Publishers such as Viral Thread, ViralNova, 9gag, Bored Panda, and many others, have all seen interactions — likes, shares, comments and other reactions — slide precipitously since Facebook announced in January that it would deprioritize publisher content in its news feed.

This is particularly bad news for publishers that depend heavily on Facebook for referral traffic, and serves as yet another warning to publishers (as if they needed one) who rely on third party platforms for the majority of their web traffic. Distractify, for example, saw its monthly traffic drop 84 percent year over year in February, with much of this attributable to declines in Facebook referral traffic.

In late 2017, Google surpassed Facebook as the top source of publisher referral traffic, leading some search-focused publishers to gloat. But whether a publisher’s emphasis is on search or viral traffic, the over reliance on Silicon Valley’s ‘Duopoly’ shows the perilous and fleeting nature of their business models – or as LittleThings demonstrated, how they are just one algorithm tweak from annihilation.

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