On August 3, Facebook went down for almost an hour in Europe and North America. At this time, a number of users who weren’t access the social media network went directly to news sites or searched for news.
Looking at the data by Chartbeat at the recent Online News Association conference, there was an increase of 11 percent to news publisher sites (in part from app-driven traffic), and search traffic (to news sites) increased 8 percent while the outage was happening a little after 4pm.
According to late 2017 data from the Pew Research Center:
Just under half (45 percent) of U.S. adults use Facebook for news. Half of Facebook’s news users get news from that social media site alone, with just one-in-five relying on three or more sites for news.
From the perspective of an algorithm change, it makes sense that if a site like Facebook isn’t available, people will have to go directly to the main sources of news. Facebook began to “fix” the News Feed earlier this year by minimizing third-party “commercial content.” This impacted multiple entities, but most news publishers saw their referral traffic from Facebook decline, a pattern that predated the algorithm change.
It would appear that that Facebook referrals have declined based on evidence going back to 2017. More people go to Google to obtain their news. When Facebook isn’t available, Google is where they will go, or directly to news sources.
The trends that are shown in this chart underscore opportunities for content creators to capitalize on well-optimized pages (and possibly ads) to reach news-seeking audiences in search. Programmatic and direct-buying ad opportunities are highlighted for marketer s to reach these audiences on publisher sites.ces on publisher sites.