It’s September. Let that sink in. Schools are back, bars across the country are now advertising their Christmas party offerings and knowing the UK, the weather will get inexplicably better for a week, then nose dive into autumnal rain and wind. So with this in mind, let’s take a look back at August and pretend that we’re not nearly three quarters of the way through the year.
Why August I hear you say? Well, back in August Facebook announced exciting new changes to its newsfeed algorithm that could have a huge impact on the online activity of businesses and the media. Alongside Facebook’s regular promise to eliminate ‘fake news’, they have also committed to favour stories and links that lead to mobile optimised sites with a quick loading time.
In a post to Facebook’s Newsroom, engineers Jiayi Wen and Shengbo Guo highlighted that “as many as 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site after three seconds of delay.” So wave goodbye to those fake news click bait articles leading you to a website seemingly created by Tim Berners-Lee at the birth of the internet, back when Mark Zuckerburg was just a twinkle in his father’s eye.
But how does this change effect business and media? Most businesses will have a mobile optimised website, but for those that don’t, it’s time to play catch up. Social media plays a key role in the reputation of a brand or business, and having your content pushed further down the newsfeed or simply not being served to users because of a poor website won’t help build that reputation any time soon.
Media may also need to re-evaluate their social strategy. Enter Facebook’s Instant Articles. The cynic in me might think that Facebook’s change in algorithm based on the speed a website and the push on their own platform that hosts articles may have been carefully planned, but I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
One of the major benefits of hosting content on Instant Articles is a faster load time, which should garner higher organic reach with the new algorithm. If load time impacts the reach of a post, it makes sense that publishers host their content on Facebook. The platform, which has been around for about two years, hasn’t attracted many publishers due to the fact they don’t make the same money they would by simply driving people to their website. So are we about to see more Daily Mail articles hosted directly on Facebook?
What all of this shows it the power of Facebook. One simple change to their algorithm means that business and media need to amend their digital approach, whether that be a simple tweak to optimise their site or rethink their strategy for online revenue. The new algorithm will begin to kick in this month, so watch this space. And by space, I mean Instant Articles. You could be getting a lot of your news from there in the coming months.