Facebook referrals and viral publishers: Examining Elite Daily

 In Case Studies, Consumer Behavior, Featured, Online Advertising, Popular, Site Analysis, Social Marketing, Tech News, Top 10, Traffic Sources, Trends

Facebook recently changed its newsfeed algorithm (again), and it’s wreaking havoc on inbound traffic rates for viral publishers like BuzzFeed and Upworthy. These outlets rely heavily on Facebook referrals for traffic, but the new algorithm, along with more stringent content standards and features that keep users on Facebook for longer (think Instant Articles), have become the digital antibiotics for these viral publishers.

In 2015 alone, BuzzFeed’s Facebook referral traffic was cut by 40 percent and Huffington Post saw a frightening 60 percent decline in referrals.

Elite Daily, the self-proclaimed “Voice of Generation Y”, is another victim of dwindling referral traffic. The lifestyle website has even publicly acknowledged the drastic decrease in traffic is the result of declining Facebook referrals. We wanted to know just how severe the decline was, so we assessed the effect of Facebook traffic on trending content, and found that seven out of ten of the most popular Elite Daily articles, and nearly 68 percent of the readers are directly tied to Facebook traffic.

Jumpshot’s data is based on clickstream information, meaning that we capture every click and destination URL, including tracking parameters. And in this case, we discovered that the web addresses of seven of the leading pages on the site contained Facebook’s advertising tracking code. Read on for our full findings.

People still like to read: Elite Daily’s top ten articles are all text

We analyzed inbound traffic to Elite Daily since the beginning of the year to identify the leading articles and traffic sources. We discovered that even though the publisher has been shifting its focus from text to video, not a single video made the list. Although the site still contains a lot of fluffy content (take the leading article for example) visitors are mostly interested in the news, as more than three quarters of the site visitors read general or cultural news pieces.

Top ten Elite Daily articles:

# Article Category % of Top 10
1 A Big Butt Is A Healthy Butt: Women With Big Butts Are Smarter And Healthier News 15.5%
2 If You Can’t Answer ‘Yes’ To These 5 Questions, She’s Not The One Dating 12%
3 This Is What Ren From ‘Even Stevens’ Looks Like Now Entertainment 11.2%
4 Why Some People Always Feel Cold While Others Are Always Hot News 11%
5 Ben & Jerry’s Reveals Bernie Sanders Ice Cream Flavor And It’s Genius Social News 10.1%
6 This Photo Of Two Pregnant Women Is Going Viral For An Insane Reason Social News 9.7%
7 This Is The Reason Your Jean Pockets Have Tiny Buttons On Them Social News 8.1%
8 You’ve Probably Been Using Post-It Notes Wrong Your Entire Life Social News 7.8%
9 Last Night, Bernie Sanders Literally Made History News 7.3%
10 Someone Found The Man Who Was ‘Kazoo Kid’ In That Insane Viral Video Social News 7.2%

Bottom line: The days of content going viral for free on Facebook are gone. However, marketers can still take advantage of Facebook’s reach, they just need to pay for it this time around. Our Elite Daily analysis indicates that Facebook’s promoted posts are a powerful tool to attract eyeballs and clicks. It all comes down to finding the perfect mix of paid and organic search, social and email programs to grow your audience and business.

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