Amid rising fear about Facebook’s coming News Feed changes, which will reduce referral traffic for websites, social media managers are considering their options, and looking at various platforms and tools to help them offset the potential declines.
One platform to consider giving more focus could be LinkedIn, particularly if the latest usage stats reported by the platform are anything to go by.
As reported by Digiday, LinkedIn says that comments, likes and shares are up more than 60% year-on-year, ‘due to product updates, new features and analytics’.
“...mobile referral traffic for LinkedIn across Parse.ly’s publisher base more than doubled, and engagements on LinkedIn content have increased fourfold in the last two years for publishers like Forbes, the BBC, Bloomberg and Business Insider, according to NewsWhip.’
Indeed, LinkedIn has been making content a bigger focus, with new options like native video, a Trending Stories feed and improved algorithm filtering to show users more relevant content. More recently, LinkedIn’s also flagged improvements to groups, which could help make them a more relevant, functional consideration too.
Still, even with a 60% increase, LinkedIn's a small driver of overall referral traffic. According to Parse.ly’s data, referral traffic from the professional social network still only accounts for less than half a percent of all global traffic. Twitter, too, drives a minuscule amount of traffic by comparison – but still, the way to augment your Facebook losses isn’t likely to come from any single alternative source. The answer will most probably lie in a more diverse approach, gaining numbers on various platforms to supplement any Facebook declines - while also working to learn and adapt to the new Facebook reality.
Of course, the other option is to ignore Facebook altogether – some publishers have reportedly already gone this route in order to better stabilize their traffic. TechCrunch recently published an article along similar lines, urging smaller publishers to avoid getting addicted to Facebook traffic as the new algorithm gives them more exposure. And that makes sense, logically, but it also misunderstands Facebook’s lure and appeal. Essentially, Facebook’s offer is simply too good to refuse.
For example, let’s say you’re a publisher which suddenly sees a 30% boost in overall traffic, with Facebook being the main driver. That then continues month-on-month, with Facebook pushing more traffic to your pages. Can you just ignore that? With the potential ad dollars you can generate from that extra traffic, can you simply play it off under the assumption that it might drop at any moment?
Most would find this hard to avoid – you can’t help but look into what, exactly, is driving more of that Facebook traffic, then optimizing your approach to extract more traffic if you can. Maybe, after a year or so, you’re seeing a 100% increase in overall traffic – Facebook and Google are, after all, the largest drivers of referral traffic on the web. And that’s when Facebook switches the rules.
It’s one thing to say ‘don’t get sucked into the Facebook vortex’, it’s another to actively avoid it. For most businesses, it’s simply impossible to do so.
But the Facebook vortex, of course, is what’s lead to various publishers shutting down completely, and has now left many more scrambling to supplement their audience intake. Whether it’s even possible to do that is hard to say, as we don’t know what the full extent of Facebook’s changes will be just yet, but now is the perfect time for alternative providers, like LinkedIn, to push their niche appeal.
Sure, they’ll never be able to directly compete with Facebook, but any alternative reach will add to the whole – and reaching just the right audiences could be more valuable either way.