The Perils of Facebook Traffic

At the moment, Facebook provides more website traffic referrals than any other social media platform, by a significant margin.  But amidst the sudden boom in Facebook video and the ongoing concerns about the reduction of organic reach in Facebook feeds, a new potential issue has raised its head.

Fairly recently, Facebook has made changes to the way that it deals with video.  Not only do videos (silently) auto-play in your feed, but embedded videos can now be played directly in Facebook, previously something that required a click through to the hosting website to do.

Whose Content Is It?

Over the past year, Facebook’s video content has grown to the point where they are overshadowing even the mighty YouTube, but with their changes in the way they handle video, including auto-playing of videos hosted on Facebook in the feed, have made people wonder whether this will affect the referrals they get from the social media giant, and question the control they have over their own content.

According to a report in The New York Times last year, Facebook is looking into ways that pages you link to from your Facebook page will, instead of sending visitors to the site, instead be pulled into Facebook and displayed there (with native Facebook advertising of course and a revenue sharing model).

Unsurprisingly, content creators and publishers are not particularly enamoured of the idea.  Facebook may say that they want to work with publishers to create a better user experience, but publishers see the idea as a direct threat against the traffic their sites get from Facebook.

Maintain Diverse Traffic Strategies

Will Facebook traffic disappear?  Despite the doom saying, (which seems to happen any time something changes (or is rumoured to be changing), it’s probably unlikely that Facebook will stop sending referral traffic to your site.  Even if they do start pulling your content into their own platform.

The simple truth though is that it doesn’t really matter.  No online marketing should depend on only a single traffic course, whether it’s search traffic or Facebook referral traffic.

The simple truth is that you should be maintaining a diverse traffic strategy as a buffer against anything going wrong anywhere.  The old cliché about keeping all your eggs in one basket is a cliché because it’s true.   Never depend on a single source, because there’s no telling in this fluid digital environment whether or not  that single source will one day dry up.  And if it does, you need to have a plan B.