Publishers relying on reach from Facebook are set to take a hit, with the network’s latest algorithm tweak favouring posts from friends and family, over organisations.

Digital publishing analytics company claims that 41.4% of publisher referral traffic comes from the social network, 2% more than via Google, and way ahead of Yahoo, Twitter and Bing, which provide under 10% each.

A blog post by Facebook engineering director Lars Backstrom claims the tweak was made in order to provide a more relevant and personally-engaging user experience, which could mean skimming off a portion of celebrity updates, local news or recipes, for example.

“The feedback we’ve gotten tells us that authentic stories are the ones that resonate most,” he states.  

“We work to understand what kinds of stories people find misleading, sensational and spammy, to make sure people see those less.”

Playing to emotions

As a result of the change, the industry could witness an increasing tack towards emotive ad content, as publishers look to tap into intimate friend circles to maximise share counts. Additionally, we’re likely to see a huge rise in the type of video content already seeing success by publishers such as BuzzFeed.

According to research by Digiday, this kind of content is seven times as likely to be shared as that of normal, text-based posts, and Facebook has already shown its encouragement, paying certain celebrities to live stream.

As stated in his blog post, Backstrom doesn’t deny the impact that this algorithm tweak could have on publishers, especially for smaller-scale organisations.

“The specific impact on your Page’s distribution and other metrics may vary depending on the composition of your audience.”

Backstrom explains that if the bulk of a publisher’s referrals is as a result of people sharing content, and friends liking and commenting, there will be less of an impact than if the majority derives directly from Page posts.  

While engagement and clicks will have been the chief driver, less traction being gained from organic posts is likely to see Facebook’s paid alternatives gaining an ensuing spike, an aspect that has surely contributed somewhat to the discussion.