After throwing a News Feed bombshell to publishers earlier this month, Facebook will now start prioritising local publishers, rewarding them with higher rankings in the News Feed.
These days, News Feed is less stable than a radioactive isotope. Publishers and Brands are still trying to make sense (and budget) out of the latest update which sees their posts being demoted. However, there is a unlikely winner in the battle of attention: small, local Publishers.
Alex Hardiman, Head of News Product and Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships wrote a joint statement in which they announce that Facebook will prioritise news about what’s happening in local communities for users to learn about “topics that have a direct impact on you and your community and discover what’s happening in your local area.”
Cool, right? But how can a publisher be classified as ‘local’ for that matter? According to the announcement, Facebook identifies local publishers as those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. While there are no constraints on which publishers are eligible, it is expected that super-local, ultra-niche publishers will benefit most from the changes, as they have dedicated and geo-fenced readership.
The changes are part of Facebook’s broader Journalism Project’s spectrum. They also pair well with its newly launched ‘Today In’ section, which features local news and events. Today In is currently being tested in 6 cities across the US. Local News re-prioritisation will also roll out in the US with global availability planned for later this year.