Facebook decided to make changes to its algorithm, prioritizing posts by friends and family while curbing the reach of large and small media organizations, companies and other brands.
This change is a serious blow for all the publications that use Facebook as their main source of traffic because it will diminish the organic reach, as well as that of paid content.
These changes are a new challenge for digital outlets that want to maintain their presence on social media. Aviles says that being on Facebook "is not negotiable" because the exponential growth of the network has prevented media and marketers from exploring other possibilities to reach more people.
"Google is still the first option to find information among Latin American users," said Aviles, but Facebook seems to prevail in the minds of publishers when it comes to thinking about news placement.
As Facebook institutes News Feed changes, publishers should shift their focus away from social media towards maintaining a relevant online presence through Google.
Aviles recommends that publishers focus on the following:
Generate high quality and up-to-date content
Position their websites properly through search engine optimization (SEO)
Attract traffic with Google AdWords or YouTube ads
Define a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign at Google Display Network
Optimize customer relationship management (CRM)
Engage audiences by integrating remarketing techniques
Above all, Aviles encourages publishers to explore all possible alternatives, and to "develop a strategy where Facebook stops being the sun around which we orbit."
Maximizing Facebook usage
Although investing in new methods for attracting readers will be beneficial, it’s clear that publishers can’t abandon Facebook altogether, despite how cruel the new changes may seem. However, there are ways for publishers to keep afloat and deliver content to people who are already following them.
Loyalty is crucial to adapting to the new changes. Aviles believes that if outlets create loyal communities, their content will stay relevant because these communities will keep sharing it among their family and friends — interactions that will be prioritized following Facebook’s changes.
She also suggests media outlets educate their audiences on how to activate the "see first" feature or turn on notifications.
“Media should [also] focus on live content, where they can interact with their audiences in real time and tell meaningful, relevant stories,” said Aviles.
She also suggests that publishers be conscious about how often they are posting on Facebook. “Publishing all the time can become a weapon that turns against the media.”
Vilma Núñez, an international consultant at the digital marketing firm Convierte+, explains that publishers will need to make up for any traffic they lose from the changes using the strategies discussed above.
In order to accomplish this, media outlets will need to start measuring the impact News Feed changes have on audience reach.
"The first thing we need to do is measure the current results to see in a few months how much audience we really lost,” said Núñez.
Then, publishers can measure the impact of new strategies as they are implemented, in order to calculate the best way to make up for the loss.
Núñez anticipates that a multi-faceted strategy will yield the best results. “We will have to publish less content but of higher quality.” said Núñez. “We need to optimize each of our publications and opt for alternatives such as Facebook bots and online advertising.”
The challenge for content creators in the face of Facebook’s News Feed changes will be to diversify in such a way that their audiences keep growing instead of shrinking.