In January 2018, Facebook announced changes to its algorithm with an expressed intention (per their press release) to “prioritize posts that spark conversation and meaningful interaction between people.” These changes, which made brand and publisher-owned Facebook pages less visible in consumers news feeds, have had a significantly adverse effect on publishers, according to data published by Parse.ly.
On average, publishers in Parse.ly’s network suffered a 28% overall decrease in traffic from Facebook during 2018 compared to the previous year.
Figures from Parse.ly are based on a network of publishers using its technology, and represent what 1 billion users read across 8 million articles each month. Before this, there has been other research highlighting the impact of Facebook’s changes to what ends up in the news feed. In fact, the changes in algorithms for social media sites was cited as one of the most important issues by 3 in 5 content marketers surveyed by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs last year.
Parse.ly found that one of the categories hardest hit by the algorithm changes was Arts & Entertainment, which saw a 71% decrease in referral traffic. Music, as a separate category, also experienced a big drop (-65%) in referral traffic in 2018.
Style & Fashion as a whole saw a 62% decrease in referral traffic and more specifically, the category of Clothing was hit by a 60% decrease.
It wasn’t just arts and fashion that did not fare well after the algorithm change. Family & Parenting also experienced a 61% decrease in referral traffic in just a year’s time.
On the other end of the scale, politics, news and social issues seem to have been least affected by Facebook’s changes. While Politics still experienced a decrease in referrals, the 34% drop is small by comparison to the biggest losers on the list.
Showing that people still find information on Facebook about what is going on in the world (or at least their corner of it), News saw a relatively small 33% decrease in referral traffic. This was followed by Immigration with a 28% decrease. It’s up for debate if these hot button issues not disappearing from people’s feeds is a good thing or not…
The two categories least affected by the changes were Commentary (-15%) and Personal Finance (-6%).
While Facebook referral traffic has been decreasing, Google has picked up the slack with more people finding articles to read via Google than Facebook in 2018.
The full data can be viewed here.