Wick Communications

What works on Facebook?

In Online media on 3 Feb 2012 at 9:49 am

There has been a lot of chatter in recent weeks about how best to engage readers via social media. Before I write another sentence let me make perfectly clear that I am no expert in a media landscape that seems to change by the day. I’m merely one man with some observations born of experience – observations that have been validated by new data from Facebook.

Most of you are now using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest or some other social media platform I haven’t even heard of. You may use them to share pictures of your children, connect with old college friends or spy on your ex. Hopefully, you are also using it to engage with your readers. If not, the boat to the 21st century is leaving without you.

In September, Facebook launched a new “subscribe” feature. It allows folks to find public figures and follow their posts without “friending” them. The difference may seem a little esoteric, but it simply means you needn’t get NBC’s Brian Williams to accept your friend request to know what he is posting to subscribers. Facebook says thousands of journalists have taken advantage of the tool and it is starting to understand what it means to those who do.

Facebook says journalists who enable subscriptions have seen a 320 percent increase in traffic since November. Facebook also reported some trends in the way journalists are using the social network and the tricks of the trade that work. Directly from Facebook: …

  • Questions and Input: 25% of posts contain a question to the reader (either rhetorical or soliciting input/reactions). In an earlier study, we found that posts that sought input received 64% more engagement (comments, likes, and shares).
  • Links: 62% of posts contain a link (either to one of the journalist’s own stories, or to something else of interest). And when reporters include analysis with the links, those links receive 20% more referral clicks on average.
  • Call to Action: 30% of posts contain “promotional” language – “read my link,” “check out my interview with,” etc. Posts with a call to action receive 37% more engagement than an average post.
  • Photos: 12% of posts were photos. Posts with photos receive 50% more likes than posts without photos.
  • Videos: 13% of posts are videos (from the scene of reporting, or a behind-the-scenes look at the process of reporting a story).

I have come to feel that each platform carries its own eccentricities. For instance, I like quirky humor on Twitter and I don’t think you can post too much there. But, on Facebook, a little goes a long way for me. I don’t like for my “likes” to post several times a day. I’m most apt to respond to questions, shout-outs and commentary. A simple link to a news story on Facebook is not liable to get my attention.

It pays to play with each of these things. Some may not suit you or your readers. But the readers are growing exponentially on social media. The same can’t be said for some of our old platforms.



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