Since today is something called “Social Media Day” (when is it not?), I’d be remiss if I wrote about something other than a big topic in social media. Depending on your perspective, Facebook announced something yesterday that will either have you jumping for joy or throwing your hands up in frustration. As they put it in their announcement:
We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day. So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed.
Can’t get enough of those pet pictures, I know. But if you’re a publisher who has carefully cultivated a Facebook community over the last few years, this is really bad news. It decreases the likelihood that your audience will see your posts. When Facebook has become the source of a significant portion of your traffic (research says in the 40% range for many publishers), that’s not good. As an aside, there is more good information on this here.
Of course, the cynic in me wants to remind you that one can always purchase traffic from Facebook via ads and that despite Facebook’s statements that this is only to serve users who want to see those pet photos, it’s really a move to generate more ad activity. That’s fine. Facebook is there to serve its shareholders and it’s a business.
What this should also serve to do is to remind us that we need to own the audience and the platform. We can’t rely on third parties such as Facebook or Google to keep our communities (and content) front and center. History tells us that the rules will change and that those platforms will come and go (Friendster, MySpace). Your community isn’t a bunch of bedouins who will decamp and follow you anywhere.
I’m always amused when a client asks if they should invest less on their own website and more on building a presence on third parties. You can guess my answer: own it! Do you?