Facebook Is Booming as a Content Discovery Engine — What It Means for Marketers

blog author
Sam Zastrow
Director of Operations

It may be hard to believe, but Facebook is now the 2nd most common way people catch up on the kind of news they regularly consume:

If that chart doesn't tell the story for you, here are a few more eye popping numbers:

Facebook's gradual move towards content discovery is easy to see

When you examine the changes Facebook made to its product in the last four years, it's easy to see a trend that points toward more content discovery.

This series of changes seemed to start shortly after, perhaps not coincidentally, Facebook's Initial Public Offering in May 2012.

  • January 2013: Facebook rolls out Graph Search. This enhanced in-product search tool was among the first signals of Facebook's interest in becoming a premier content discovery destination.
  • June 2013: Facebook announces support for hashtags, which allow users to keep track of trending stories or topics.
  • January 2014: Trending topics start appearing alongside the News Feed. Users who are logged into Facebook are now just one click away from seeing an entire feed of headlines grouped by topic from around the web.
  • February 2014: Facebook Paper becomes available for download in the iOS app store, allowing Facebook users a more magazine-like reading experience on their iPhones.
  • May 2015: In perhaps its clearest move towards content discovery yet, Facebook launches Instant Articles, allowing publishers to load their content without leaving the Facebook app.
  • April 2016: Facebook announces it will factor off-site metrics, such as the time users spend reading a given story, into its News Feed algorithms. This action echoes those of Google (which is still the top content discovery destination), which has a long-standing goal of surfacing only the highest-quality content to its users.

After examining this timeline (and taking into account Facebook's massive user base), maybe the chart at the top of this post isn't so shocking, after all.

So, what does this mean for marketers?

Actually, not that much, aside from what we already knew.

As I mentioned above in the last timeline item above, Facebook wants its users to see high-quality content in their news feeds. Creating high-quality content is something you should already by striving for, but here are some specific things to focus on:

  • First and foremost: have a content strategy, and make sure sharing to Facebook is a part of it. It's hard to capitalize on Facebook's content discovery engine without content.
  • Make sure your website and its content are optimized for mobile devices. More than 90% of people who use Facebook daily do so on their mobile device.
  • Write short, engaging headlines. Facebook truncates headline characters to fit into ito the News Feed. This truncation varies by screen size, but Facebook only allows a maximum of 25 characters in its ad headlines. That seems like a good place to start.
  • Use eye-catching images on pages you plan to share. As you probably already know, the preview image is the part of a Facebook post that takes up the most real estate in the News Feed. Make sure you're using high-quality, arresting images and graphics in your content.
  • Make sure your content includes a strong call-to-action. It's great when people come to your site from Facebook. But it's really great when they take an action after they get there.

To learn how to get your content found in search, check out our guide to SEO.


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