VideoInk—After Facebook changed its algorithm at the beginning of the year, no one was impacted as heavily as digital publisher LittleThings. The company invested heavily in producing content for the platform with the expectation that the return would be just as large. At one point, the company was posting 1200 pieces of content (a mix of video and text) a month and a two-hour daily live stream. However, as most who have been following the industry already know, that ride didn’t last long. Soon after Facebook changed its algorithm LittleThings was no longer able to make a profit and soon after closed its doors.
Despite the change in algorithm being a business ending event for LittleThings, Maia McCann, former Editor-in-Chief & EVP of Programming for the company has no grudge against the social media giant. “I don’t have rage dreams about Mark Zuckerberg,” she joked at recent state of media panel discussion hosted by MediaRadar. “Facebook made my career.”
Instead of rage, McCann sees missed opportunity on what her and her former employer could have and should have done differently. One of the mistakes she said the company made was looking at Facebook as multiple avenues of distribution. Instead of seeing Facebook as one channel of distribution, they saw Facebook Live as one avenue, Facebook video as another, Facebook articles, as another and so on.
“We made a decision to look at Facebook as five different avenues of distribution,” she explained. “We looked at Facebook as a landscape. There was an idea that this landscape was never really going to change.”
This is contrary to Hearst Digital’s Brian Madden, another panelist involved in the discussion, who discussed how Hearst “never wanted to focus on a single source of traffic [i.e. Facebook]” They focused on multiple sources, to diversify their audience and maximize growth potential.
According to McCann, if she had another opportunity she would “diversify traffic,” “look at YouTube, and look at Snapchat.” However, that’s not the only thing she would change.
McCann says that one “huge mistake” the company made was letting go of its Search Engine Optimization team amid company cutbacks, something that ended up being detrimental to the success of the company after Facebook’s algorithm change.
On the other hand, Business Insider’s Emily Cohn, another panelist involved in the discussion, explained why she always been a huge proponent of SEO. “Search is our number one source of traffic,” said Cohn, who says its long-term value is huge. “Around 80% of our search traffic is stories that were not published today. One of our top-searched stories is from 2014. Search is valuable to us because it’s making our whole ten years worth of content really valuable.”
During the panel discussion participants also touched on several different topics, including why Snapchat’s “Stories” and Instagram’s “Moments”will be a key factor in filling the void Facebook’s algorithm change has left behind.
Watch the entire discussion below: