Case study: Facebook promos for television content

A Storify exploring how to be successful at driving Facebook users to watch television. 

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Creating a Strategy for the World After Facebook

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Is your news organization ready to react if Facebook fails? Photo by Loco Steve/Flickr.

This post is adapted from a discussion I started this morning with some of my colleagues at Gannett about planning for a post-Facebook world. The discussion was sparked by "The great defriending of Facebook," a post by Keith Morris on The Daily Dot.

Morris’ post was one of several I’ve read in the past two years that have predicted the demise of Facebook. The argument typically goes something like this:

Facebook has changed something.

Everyone hates that change.

So everyone is going to abandon Facebook.

While that obviously hasn’t happened yet, there are reasons to be concerned about Facebook’s future. As Morris notes, recent changes to the Facebook newsfeed have created a messy user experience that’s ripe for spam. And messy user experiences have led to the demise of other social networks. Remember this?

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Some MySpace users loved the Tinkerbell GIF, which became very popular on the network just before its demise. That GIF and other sparkly images created a loud, messy experience on MySpace that sent many users looking for a cleaner social network.

They went to Facebook.

Now, as Morris notes, changes to the Facebook newsfeed are allowing “content spammers” like Dresses and Shut Up I’m Still Talking to create a mess out of that network’s user experience. If users begin leaving as a result, it might cost news organizations a significant amount of online traffic. Facebook continues to be one of the top referrers to many news organization websites, and it’s a vital tool for reaching online communities with news content. As an online and social media editor, I’m tasked in part with creating strategies to reach those communities. That means I spend much of my time thinking about best practices for Facebook and working to maximize engagement around content on our Facebook page. I want them coming from Facebook to our site, where they can see the ads that financially support our organization.

Morris’ post made me realize I need to start creating a strategy for a post-Facebook world. If users begin to flee Facebook, I need to be ready to reach them with our content on other platforms.

Here are my odds on what platforms will be best for reaching users in a post-Facebook world:

Email: even. Email continues to drive a significant amount of traffic and move users to action. It was key to the president’s re-election. Still, few news organizations have explored using it in the same matter as the president’s data team. It’s worth exploring.

Text messages and non-Facebook mobile apps and web: 2 to 1. Facebook’s user experience problems are most evident on its mobile app, which has become almost unusable. Meanwhile, some news organizations have seen their mobile traffic double in recent years. years. The number of consumers who own smartphones also continues to grow. News organizations might do a better job reaching these consumers with targeted text message strategies and by exploring ways to ensure their content is shared over multiple apps.

Twitter: 15 to 1. Twitter is a great platform for discussion and engagement. It has a young audience and an excellent mobile experience. Its ability to drive traffic, however, is questionable. Twitter typically isn’t among the top referrers to most news websites. Still, Twitter has value in reaching influencers whose can link to news content on their websites and help drive significant traffic.

Google+: 30 to 1. Is Google+ a social network or isn’t it? Google says it’s not; instead, they describe Plus as the social backbone for all their products. I’m not really sure what that means, and I don’t think users understand it either. Google will need to do a better job of clearly expressing the value of plus if it wants to be a force in the post-Facebook world.

LinkedIn: 50 to 1. LinkedIn has made several changes in recent years in an effort to become more than just a place to post your resume. Still, like Google+, it needs to work on expanding its brand. 

Have you started planning a post-Facebook strategy? Where will you be focusing your efforts?


How Are You Using Social Media Right Now?

I talk about myself on Facebook and Instagram.

I have conversations on Twitter.

I’m most interested in listening to what others are saying on Tumblr.

I use Pinterest for note-taking and as a portfolio.

Google+ solves no problems for me because all of the people I might follow on G+ are on Facebook.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Path lately, but I haven’t dipped back in yet to see how that might suit my purposes.

I use Reddit for work, and I feel like I could be using it for professional development, but I’ve never been really compelled to sit down and dig through it.

When I’m on YouTube, it’s usually because I’ve clicked through from a link on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or BuzzFeed

(This post inspired by a comment on Mark Smith’s Facebook profile.)

How are you using social media right now?


Who Actually Uses Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram and Other Social Networks?

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Photo by English106/Flickr.

Well, if you’re reading this, you’re probably among the 6 percent of total Internet users who using Tumblr. That number comes from a Pew Internet and American Life project report that’s titled "A demographic portrait of users of various social media services - 2012." The report popped up on Tumblr during the Tumblr-Yahoo! hullabaloo this morning, and it includes some useful info.

The percentage of Internet users who use Twitter? 16 percent.

Pinterest: 15 percent.

Instagram: 13 percent.

Facebook: 67 percent.

Read the report here, and follow Pew Internet on Tumblr.


4 Keys to Online Success for News Organizations

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A compelling photo is vital to attracting readers to your story online. Photo by Steve Rhodes/Flickr.

Here are the most important lessons I’ve learned through research and experience since I first became an “online journalist” seven years ago:

1. Treat online as its own unique medium with its own unique best practices. You wouldn’t read a newspaper story verbatim on a television or radio station. You wouldn’t re-print a television or radio script line-for-line in a newspaper. So why would you expect to be successful by cutting-and-pasting television and radio scripts and print stories online? The Internet has its own unique strengths, weaknesses and best practices for engaging audiences. It’s the only medium for rich interactive content and instant two-way communication with your audience. Create a strategy focused on these qualities and you’re more likely to live up to your potential online.  

2. Listen and respond to your community during the news gathering process. Your community doesn’t need you. They already have what seems like an infinite number of sources for news they find interesting. You’re just another voice in that cacophony. If you want to be relevant, you need to pay attention to what your audience is talking about online and be part of their conversations. Hang out where they hang out, ask them what they’re interested in and learn how to recognize patterns in their news consumption. Does your community have a huge subreddit where users are regularly upvoting items about housing? Try providing more housing coverage. Are there no comments on your competitor’s education blog? Spend less time reporting on education.

3. Create quality to generate quantity on social. Contests and other gimmicks can be great for a one-time spike in your Facebook followers. But how are you going to keep growing your numbers after you’ve given out your prizes? You need to regularly provide your social audience with a product they’re interested in. 

4. Make headlines and photos a priority. Your community wades through a flood of information whenever it logs onto Facebook or Twitter. Links with great headlines and photos rise above the rest of the fodder and attract clicks. To write a great headline, start by thinking about how you might pitch your story to a reader if you only had 30 seconds to talk with him or her in an elevator. How would you succinctly and clearly sell the benefits of clicking on your work? Can you guarantee the reader that he or she will gain something through your story? Use your answers to write a one-line compelling promise to the reader that explains the benefits of checking out your work. Refine that promise using Matt Thompson’s “10 questions to help you write better headlines.” It’s important to note here that you should not give away your entire story in a headline, as many newspapers often do. “8 People Killed in Gang Shooting Downtown” pretty much tells the reader everything he or she needs to know without requiring a click. When you’re done writing your headline, ask yourself: would I click on this if it came across my personal Facebook feed? If the answer is no, your headline might need more editing.