Publishers turn to video to offset organic reach drop on Facebook

And last week, the world’s largest social network announced another News Feed update aimed at reducing clickbait.

Both changes have the greatest potential impact on brands and publishers which, according to social media publishing platform provider SocialFlow, saw their reach per post on Facebook drop by a whopping 42% between January and May.

As publishers using SocialFlow observed the effects of Facebook’s changes, they upped the amount of content they posted to the social network, to no avail.

But it appears that some publishers have found a reprieve of sorts from Facebook’s News Feed updates in the form of video content.

As detailed by Marketing Land’s Tim Peterson, a number of publishers, including Thrillist and PopSugar, have found that they can offset the reach declines by focusing on video.

Eric Ashman, Thrillist’s president, told Peterson:

Our reach has gone up a ton. I do think video has been a massive part of that.

Chris George, PopSugar’s SVP of product marketing, quantified the reach gains his company has achieved thanks to video.

People like PopSugar are playing to the strengths of what Facebook is prioritizing. We’ve seen an increase in organic reach from January to July of about 10 percent.

George also reported that PopSugar’s daily engagement with posts was up 17% during the same period because of the increased focus on video.

According to SocialFlow CEO Jim Anderson, Thrillist and PopSugar aren’t exceptions.

Anderson revealed that in looking at 1.5m monthly posts published through his company’s platform, video posts delivered eight times the reach and 12 times the number of shares as non-video post types.

“Video is the type of post that performs best by far,” he stated.

Not a panacea

The fact that video content is performing so well on Facebook isn’t surprising.

The company has been emphasizing video of late, and Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP for EMEA, has even gone so far as to predict that the social network would “probably” be “all video” in the next five years.

Mark Zuckerberg has himself been intimately involved in Facebook’s livestreaming push, and the company has reportedly spent more than $50m to get publishers and celebrities to post video content using Facebook Live.

Brands and publishers have been quick to adapt to video on Facebook, which is defined by silent autoplay, and despite the challenges of livestreaming, some are already using Live to great effect.

But is video a long-term solution to organic reach woes? Brands and publishers might not want to bet yes for a few reasons:

  • As more and more brands and publishers embrace video, competition will increase and standing out will become more difficult.
  • Facebook can update its algorithm at any time. While video seems to have an advantage today, perhaps intentionally, once Facebook achieves its goal of increasing the volume of video content posted, it could easily scale back any video ranking boost.
  • The production of compelling video content can be more difficult and costly, and therefore many brands and publishers will be limited in just how much they can create. For instance, despite its success, video posts still make up less than a third of PopSugar’s Facebook content.

Brands and publishers do have some ability to hedge their bets. For example, more are turning to automated video to increase video content production without breaking the bank.

But with Cisco predicting that 80% of all internet traffic will come from video by 2019, brands and publishers shouldn’t expect video to offer an advantage forever.

Instead, they should expect that a viable video strategy will be a necessity just to compete in the very near future.

 

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