Facebook — which accounts for as much as 75% of the traffic to popular websites — tweaked its algorithm to downrank those same publishers, who had been engaged in an arms-race to dominate Facebook users' feeds through techniques intended to gain high rank in Facebook's secret scoring system.
Starved for the traffic that keeps their businesses viable, publishers have turned to brokers who pay celebrities to post their stories in their personal feeds, working their way back into Facebook users' fields of attention.
The practice of paying celebs to post stories and ads was already established as a kind of arbitrage services, since celebs charged less for reposting services than Facebook charged to advertise to the same users. With the Facebook crackdown on "professional content," these payola services are now the only game in town, and they're growing like crazy.
Of course, like many "growth hacking" tactics, this one skirts rules. Facebook requires verified page owners to disclose any commercial nature of the content posted to those pages, something that these celebs do not do.
And also like many hacks, it's one that's attracted competition. In the past year, a cottage industry of companies like Providr and FanBread has sprung up that creates content for those same influencers, giving said celebs a chance to earn much higher returns on their social reach. These companies, which build scale for the advertisers across the sites, take a cut of the advertising revenue.
It's the latest example of publishers finding a distribution channel for their content, then having to compete with upstarts who make content specifically for that channel.
Facebook-thirsty publishers turn to celebrities to worm into the news feed
(via Super Punch)