by Clem Robin, Digital Marketing Manager
The publishing industry had a rather abrupt start to 2018 when Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook was changing its focus from helping people find relevant content, to helping people have more meaningful social interactions.
I.e. More content from friends, family and groups, and less content from businesses and publishers.
In many ways, this didn’t come as a surprise. We’ve seen them testing similar things in the market over the last 3-6 months, including a dual newsfeed in a handful of small countries.
Personally, I like the idea. I want to see more of the things that matter to me - friends, family and locally relevant content. Content that improves my life, rather than distractions.
In regard to its impact on The Urban List, it certainly prompted a few urgent conversations. How was it actually going to impact? Was it going to hit as hard as the media was drumming up?
For some businesses, probably, but as a content publisher who has always strived to create meaningful interactions through truly engaging, locally relevant content, we remained positive.
This is what Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed said, “The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.” And we’re firmly in the second camp!
We’re now a month on from the announcement, and we just had our second biggest month of all time for website users, and traffic from Facebook was our best in three months.
That’s not to say we haven’t been affected. We’ve seen engagement rates up and down since Sept ‘17, but we’re still tracking at a level within the industry we’re really happy with.
You can see from the graph below that The Urban List Melbourne & Sydney have outperformed our peers for average engagements per post since July ‘17, and both pages kicked significantly in Jan ‘18.
We’ve maintained this level of engagement as social content has always been one of our strengths - it’s one of the areas that sets us apart from our peers. In fact, this is a key reason why our Facebook following is more than twice as large as our closest peer - testament to a very different approach to social content creation.
Of course it would be naive to rely too heavily on any third party. To mitigate that risk, we’ve done a lot of work to diversify our channels over the last 18 months and have had some solid results, including 60% YoY growth in search traffic and 37% growth in email traffic.
So what does the future hold?
The one thing we can be certain of, is that change will continue to happen across all marketing channels. And this is exciting.
One of the seven business pillars we have at The Urban List, is ‘Change is an Adventure’. We’re ready and willing to embrace change and the new opportunities that will come about.
Oh, and we’re of course happy to see Facebook’s most recent announcement that local news content is going to be prioritised in the newsfeed.
“Starting today, we're going to show more stories from news sources in your local town or city. If you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in News Feed,” said Mark Zuckerberg, noting that large local publishers will benefit, as well as publishers that focus on niche topics.
As with all things Facebook, it's hard to know when it will take effect in Australia and New Zealand, but we're structured perfectly to benefit from this update. Bring it on!