Facebook Demotes Publisher Content In Newsfeed

After wooing publishers with promises of faster delivery times and huge audiences, Facebook is reversing course, at least to some degree.

It is making changes to the rules governing what content appears in users’ newsfeeds. The revamped algorithm will give greater emphasis to content from users’ personal contacts, while decreasing the amount of content they see from publishers and brands.

It would appear that publishers and brands on Facebook have fallen victim to their own enthusiasm in what is essentially a “tragedy of the commons” situation.

They began posting so much content on the social network they were crowding out content from users’ actual friends and family – making it less “social” and more “network.”   

According to press reports, Facebook vice-president of product management Adam Mosseri explained the changes in an interview with reporters at the company’s headquarters: “Your average friend probably posts a few things a week, the average publisher you follow probably posts hundreds of things a day. We’ve made some ranking changes to try to better connect people with their friends.”



The new system prioritizes personal content over news and information, which in turn, takes precedence over entertainment content, as set forth in Facebook’s summary of the “values” determining which types of content get the most exposure. It covers all types of content from publishers, including article links, video, and live video.

However, there’s a silver lining for publishers that succeed in getting users to actively share their content, as this is more likely to show up in their friends’ newsfeeds than content coming directly from the publisher’s own Facebook page.

Presumably, the same is true for content from brands, many of which are de facto publishers on the network.

The changes are apparently already under way. Earlier this month, a study from SocialFlow found that media companies have seen their average audiences per story decline by 42% from 117,000 in January to just 68,000 in May.

Separately, another study from analytics firm SocialWhip found that the combined activity for the ten biggest English-language publishers on Facebook fell from 287 million engagements per month in July 2015 to 162 million per month in April of this year, for a 44% decline over this period.

4 comments about "Facebook Demotes Publisher Content In Newsfeed".
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  1. Jeff Domansky from Peak Communications Inc, June 29, 2016 at 7:28 p.m.

    Thanks for your post Erik. The steep decline in reach is an eye-opener for marketers. The solution seems obvious to me – give Facebook users more choice on the type of content they want to receive. If I want more news, then let me have a targeted range of content choices. Of course that would be too democratic and put choice back in the hands of consumers instead of Facebook. Similarly in Google searches, we should be able to choose from a menu to deliver more of the content WE want rather than what social media channel owners want to give us. I'm just saying...

  2. Donald Frazier from OneVideo Technology, June 29, 2016 at 9:56 p.m.

    Is this why FB has suppressed posts of non-commercial content -- to make room for publishers?

  3. Paul Banas from Pregnancy Magazine Group, June 30, 2016 at 4 a.m.

    The New York Times today reports the algo change is going on this week, while we who pay attention know what the article above says is more accurate: this has been going on over the past two years. You need to run twice as fast (more LIKES) to get half as far (clicks). Sadly for real publishers, it gets harder to give our readers the stuff they actually want in a way that can keep us in business at the same time. New moms who are pregnant actually want more pregnancy content, as opposed to someone who LIKED a local hardware store and now gets 20 home renovation tips each day. But I see why that distinction isn't really germane to the FB business model. At the end of the day, neither they nor Google are in business to keep us alive. But now we'll all have to find a new platform to support with our ad dollars until they decide we are getting too good a deal as well.

  4. John Motavalli from Freelance, June 30, 2016 at 7:55 a.m.

    PAUL, I find your comments interesting. Last month, May 18, in my column Programmatic Insider, I predicted Facebook would eventually make the terms much more difficult for publishers, and that many were making the same mistake they did in the 90s, depending on a big platform like AOL to keep them afloat. You should know as a publisher not to count on them, AOL or Facebook. And you are right, they are not in business to keep you alive, in truth, they couldn't care less. They used your content to build their brand, and now they don't need you very much.

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