LittleThings Shuts Down, a Victim of Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

Time's up for a content producer dependent on social platforms

Traffic peaked last year at 58 million uniques. LittleThings

Video content producer LittleThings was close to securing an investment that would have allowed it to grow beyond its 100-person staff. Instead, the site, which depended on social media for distribution, will be shutting down.

Four-year-old LittleThings, which had been self-funded, will produce one more live program today before turning off the lights for good.

“It’s not a secret that it’s challenging times for content companies,” COO Gretchen Tibbits told Adweek. The company becomes the first high-profile casualty of Facebook’s recent decision to move away from showing its users businesses and brands, and instead highlight posts from friends and family.

“The Facebook algorithm [change] hit us really hard,” Tibbits said. “It’s reduced our traffic to a non-sustainable level.”

Traffic peaked last year at 58 million uniques, according to comScore. By January, that had dropped to 34 million, which many medium-sized publishers would covet.

“As a brand, as a publisher, these platforms provide a very efficient way to reach an audience, but you’re still using someone else’s tools to reach an audience,” said Tibbits.

One hundred employees–half of them content producers–worked out of an open production center near New York’s Pennsylvania Station, building feel-good content primarily for women across the country. Multiple studios produced both live and taped content, some of it for brand sponsors. LittleThings also depended on programmatic advertising for revenue.

“The team is incredible and that’s one of those things that makes it better, but also worse,” she said.

Launched in 2014, the site produced content among five verticals: DIY, food, parenting, pets and live video, and had grand plans to keep growing.

“We can be compared to daytime talk shows, the fourth hour of the Today Show, Food Network and HGTV,” Tibbits told Adweek ahead of the company’s NewFronts presentation last April.

Tibbits has no regrets about using social media to build Little Things’ once massive reach. “There’s risk, but the flip side is, without the front door of Facebook, we wouldn’t have gotten to 58 million unique visitors.”

@ChrisAriens Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.