What does Facebook’s friends and family algorithm change mean for your site’s content?


Reprinted from GateHouse Newsroom

For anyone who has been following Facebook's news feed algorithm changes over the years, it seems like with every change announced, publishers collectively hold their breath waiting for their traffic to drop off a cliff.

This was certainly the case after the most recent News Feed values document published, which stated the news feed would emphasize posts from friends and family over pages.

Almost immediately after the document was released, media experts and websites started writing analysis, including posts on Tech Crunch, Digiday, Poynter and Politico.

But a few weeks after the change was announced, publishers are still waiting for the other shoe to drop, as many have reported not seeing a drop in traffic.

A post on Poynter referenced data from analytics, that said so far publishers have not seen a significant change in Facebook referrals. In the blog, staff noted the change may not impact publishers who post quality content.

So what exactly is quality content, and if you're managing a Facebook page, how do you combat this algorithm change to make sure your fan pages see your post?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Post video regularly and upload some of it directly to the page. Facebook has stated that video receives a higher rank in their algorithm. Many GateHouse sites are uploading video directly to Facebook, or going live whenever the story warrants it. Digiday also found that video is likely to be shared seven times more than a link.

Focus on what type of content is getting shares. People sharing content has long been a way that content goes viral, as we've seen with stories like this from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. If Facebook's friends and family rules applies, then your content will spread by friends and family sharing it.


Be authentic, human and conversational with your audience.
Don't just post a link, add some commentary in the share text. Here are some good examples on tone from GateHouse Media sites.

Facebook tone

While news media sites certainly don't want to rely on one source for all of their traffic, there's no denying that Facebook still drives significant traffic to websites. reported a year ago that Facebook had overtaken Google as the largest driver of referral traffic among its clients. Beyond news media sites, Facebook now drives more than 30 percent of all website traffic, according to Shareaholic.

But given the amount of time people spend on Facebook (Business Insider reported up to an hour a day), we can't ignore it as a distribution platform.

Sites that continue to write relevant content and post it to Facebook with the right tone will continue to see their Facebook referrals remain high. Whether there is a significant drop as a result of this algorithm change still remains to be seen.

Penny Riordan manages digital content partnerships for GateHouse Media. She works out of the Center for News and Design in Austin, Texas. Prior to joining the company, she worked at for four years, where she led social media, blogging and UGC efforts for the company. She also launched a Patch site in Maryland. Riordan also has worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maryland and Connecticut.

Riordan, Facebook
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