Boom or Bust with Facebook: Why the Social Giant's Recent Algorithm Changes Mean Everything (and Nothing) to Enthusiast Publishers

By Rondon, Michael | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, March 2014 | Go to article overview

Boom or Bust with Facebook: Why the Social Giant's Recent Algorithm Changes Mean Everything (and Nothing) to Enthusiast Publishers


Rondon, Michael, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


Science magazine Discover had 69,000 Facebook likes at the beginning of 2013. Growing steadily, that audience had doubled by September. Then in October, it doubled again. November? Again. By January, they'd hit the 1 million mark and, as of March 1, stood just shy of 2 million Facebook likes--a 1,300-percent increase in five months.

HOW DID IT HAPPEN? THEY'RE NOT REALLY SURE.

Facebook tends to guard the details of its News Feed algorithm, only hinting at the types of content it's looking to promote. In early December, the site announced that it was changing its formula to include more "high quality articles" though.

The tweaks appeared to aim squarely at viral meme sites. Headlines like Upworthy's "It Would Be Hard For Me To Believe People Actually Said This Stuff ... Except I've Heard It Myself" that had played well, presumably wouldn't be as effective.

There have been questions around how the algorithm change has actually impacted referral traffic to those sites--for many, visits declined in the early part of the year, but only time will tell whether that's been a function of Facebook's tweaks or a natural valley in a longer cycle; other sites have seen traffic go up.

Enthusiast publishers like Discover produce a much different type of content though. While a lot of it is image-centric and sharable--think science, epicurean and outdoors magazines--it's also timely, targeted, newsy and often features original reporting. It's exactly what Facebook says it wants to promote ("People prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests," Facebook's announcement reads.)

"If what's being elevated is not just sharable content--like the BuzzFeeds and Upworthys, and what we do sometimes too--but you'll also be bumped up for news value, then that's great for us," says Lisa Raffensperger, an associate editor for Discover who manages the site's social presence.

[GRAPHIC OMITTED]

[GRAPHIC OMITTED]

Discover's rapid growth actually started before the Facebook algorithm adjustment however and, Raffensperger says, happened without any conscious changes to the editorial or social media strategy. Its like-count also grew much faster than referral traffic back to the site.

They've since adjusted how they're using the platform though, implementing best practices like re-posting popular items, creating weekly roundups and posting on weekends, which has boosted traffic. DiscoverMagazine. com now gets roughly 20 percent of its 1.5 million monthly unique visitors from Facebook, up from 7 percent in September.

Still, the surge is largely a mystery for them. Raffensperger points to the site's most successful Facebook story, "Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes," which got more than 86,000 likes and was published in June--way before the expansion of Discover's audience.

"That was one of the really interesting spikes we've seen in organic reach," she says. "It wasn't anything like Upworthy in style at all. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Boom or Bust with Facebook: Why the Social Giant's Recent Algorithm Changes Mean Everything (and Nothing) to Enthusiast Publishers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.