The impact of web content and the way it is shared have changed dramatically over the past three years, according to a new report from social analytics firm BuzzSumo.
The study analyses 100 million pages of content published in the last year and finds as few as five percent of posts were shared over 343 times, with the median amount sitting at just four shares.
According to the report, between 2015 and 2017 the volume of content being shared via social media services fell by 50 percent.
Even stalwarts like BuzzFeed have been hit, with a 60 percent dip in social engagements recorded since 2015. Its most shared post pre-2017 attracted 2.6 million shares, while its most shared post in 2017 attracted 0.53 million shares.
In more evidence of the decline in social sharing, Mashable.com, another popular social news website, was sold to Ziff Davis in December, 2017 for $50 million, despite being valued at $250 million in 2016.
The data from Buzzsumo also confirms a report recently published by Shareaholic, which found that Facebook’s contribution to total referral traffic to websites had declined from 30.93 percent in the second half of 2016 to 18.16 percent in the second half of 2017.
Changes to the way that posts appear on networks like Facebook have made it harder for brands to gain traction.
Buzzsumo’s report states that a return to a reliance on Google to generate organic traffic and engagement is emerging, with search accounting for 62.6 percent of all referrals in May last year. Despite this, the report also states that 70 percent of online content is never linked to from another domain.
Facebook has come under pressure to fight back against “fake news.” The algorithm changes made to clean up newsfeeds hit content sharing and put an end to the reign of clickbait articles, which no longer muster the same levels of visibility.
This was confirmed by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, prior to the release of Facebook’s Q4 report in February.
“Already last quarter, we made changes to show fewer viral videos to make sure people’s time is well spent. In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day,” he said, in a post on his Facebook profile.
While Facebook is on the decline as a content sharing platform, business-focused social network LinkedIn has seen its influence grow. The disparity between Facebook’s 2.2 billion users and LinkedIn’s 467 million is large, but this is still a niche that publishers are eager to exploit.
According to Digiday, LinkedIn comments, shares and likes are up 60 percent year-on-year and Buzzsumo states many B2B publishers are witnessing an increase in social sharing through the platform.
It also states, considering the relative decline in referral traffic from Facebook, LinkedIn may be a suitable alternative for B2B publishers.
Part of the problem is the sheer volume of content being published, which is making it harder to stand out from the crowd. Popular topics are becoming oversaturated with posts; cryptocurrencies were covered in 40,000 articles over a single seven day period last December.
Moreover, according to a recent report from Verisign, domains containing keywords relating to cryptocurrency were the most popular type of domain registrations in 2017.
People are also sharing links with one another privately, rather than going public on newsfeeds. Up to 65 percent of shares in a given month can be private, the study found.
The sites which managed to maintain their position or gain traction in 2017 were those which avoided clickbait tactics for short term gains. Instead authoritative outlets with evergreen content were on the firmest ground in the wake of the social shake-up.