Digital Publishing Platforms
3 mins read

How publishers can grow despite Facebook’s algo changes; the ChefClub story

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While digital publishers are experimenting with different potential revenue streams in a rapidly evolving online landscape, the French Facebook publisher ChefClub has adapted to Facebook’s algorithm changes and is continuing to grow on the platform.

ChefClub is a digital publisher which posts cooking videos and recipes for its 18 million followers on Facebook. Launched just two years ago, the team comprises 35 people based in Paris, producing 12 videos a month. The publisher’s most popular videos include a recipe of Gratin Parmentier with 107 million Facebook views and a recipe for a hazelnut ice cream cake with 22 million views. ChefClub also broadcasts in 10 countries, where it adds subtitles to videos in the local language.

Unlike a lot of UK and US publishers, ChefClub’s video views have continued to grow since Facebook’s algorithm changes at the beginning of the year. According to Tubular Labs data, each ChefClub video gets on average 17.2 million views in the first 30 days after being posted and in May, the page had the highest average views (at 30 days) of food and drink publishers globally. ChefClub has faced no problem regarding their traffic as despite posting little content monthly, they top the Tubular leaderboard rankings for cross-platform creators in France.

Speaking to Digiday, ChefClub co-founder Thomas Lang explained that advertising had never been a prominent revenue model for the publisher. “We decided not to make advertising our core business. It’s not a personal passion. We want to grow a commerce company built on content,” said Lang. “We’d rather keep ad-free content that promotes ChefClub products at the end rather than inserting the content with a Facebook ad. That’s much healthier.”

Last year we saw the pivot of branded content to high-quality video production, putting the squeeze on traditional publishers who were already battling low-profit margins and increased competition. However, according to co-founder Lang, branded content makes up 20 percent of ChefClub’s revenue, such as their collaboration with Tobasco sauce, suggesting traditional publishers can take advantage of the digital shift to high-quality video production and can begin to work alongside relevant partners to create a new source of revenue.

ChefClub’s pointers for publishers

ChefClub’s expansion into physical products, a leap that Tastemade and Jungle Creations have also made, is something digital publishers can learn from. However, it’s not just the launch of their cookbook that ChefClub has used as a model for expansion, but after the summer, ChefClub plans to launch its own range of cooking sauces because “a lot of the videos end with dipping sauce,” said Lang. The publisher will develop the products, with a third-party company handling shipping.

ChefClub is also introducing a subscription service soon. According to Lang, ChefClub will be launching an app that will house the 12 videos it releases each month plus an additional 12 that viewers can access for €4.99.  In a recent interview with Digiday, Mathieu Luquet, a social video strategist based in France, said, “Because ChefClub monetizes the audience within Facebook by selling physical products rather than driving traffic back to a site, it’s been more able to weather the storm of Facebook’s algorithm change and thus grow in commerce.”

With 271 million views in the past month and a revenue model that has continued to prosper despite Facebook’s algorithm changes—thanks to its expansion into physical products—ChefClub’s diversification model is something publishers wishing to weather the storm of digital turmoil can learn from.