One week ago today, KOLO-TV News Director, Jennifer Hardy saw a tweet about Costco’s decision to remain closed on Thanksgiving. Being the awesome ND that she is, she realized it was a talker. And without thinking much about it, posted the blurb on her station’s Facebook Page. Within the first 24 hours, the post had 20 million Impressions, 40K Likes and 34K Shares! Now, one week later, the post has absolutely exploded:
More than 1.5 million Likes, 56K Shares, 54K Comments and over 26 million Reached! Add to that … the KOLO-TV Facebook Page has gotten more than 13 THOUSAND new Likes since Hardy made the post. Catapulting them to most Liked Page in their market. And the Talking About This number is close to TWO MILLION!
Hardy is thrilled with all the success, but wishes she could have gotten some web traffic too. Hardy says: “the one thing I learned is never just think you are “just posting”. I am kicking myself for not writing a web story to go with it. I can’t imagine the traffic it would have brought to our website. It has made me really think about when I posting and what I am posting and how I can incorporate the web into it.”
And I know what you’re thinking…”This is all really cool but it will NEVER happen to me!” Well, think again! KOLO’s sister station, WJHG heard about the “Costco Phenomenon” and decided to give it a shot themselves a few days later. They don’t have a Costco … so they posted about Sam’s Club (also closed on Thanksgiving) … and guess what! This post went crazy viral too!
In just about 3 days, the post has gotten 250,000 Likes, 8,000 Shares, 8,000 Comments and has Reached more than 2.5 Million people! WJHG’s Fan Page has about 30K Likes and at last check 200K Talking About It!
So, what’s the takeaway here? It’s impossible to predict how Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm will treat your post but if I were you, I’d post about this story. Now. And if you happen to get lucky enough to have a post go VIRAL…a few things to keep in mind:
1. If you forgot a link the first time, go back and add one! How to edit posts: http://b2socialmedia.com/blog/how-to-edit-posts-on-facebook/
2. Realize your engagement will probably be higher than normal for a while so take advantage by promoting all your platforms (Twitter, YouTube, on-air, web) on Facebook.
3. Consider running a Facebook contest with a prize your LOCAL audience will care about. This will take advantage of your increased exposure but hopefully narrow it to the local Likes you care most about.
4. Pat yourself on the back! Run a promo on-air about how your Facebook Page is a valuable source of information to MILLIONS!
Ever had something go really, really viral? Tell me more in the Comments.
DISCLAIMER: Both KOLO and WJHG are SocialNewsDesk customers. … Ok, that was more like bragging than a disclaimer. But you catch my drift.
Here’s the deal… if you’re still waiting for Facebook to make your link-thumbnails bigger in the News Feed, chances are it’s you – not them. The bigger thumbnails are getting up to 69% more clicks than the smaller ones…and Facebook says the change is fully rolled out.
So, why are some of your links still showing small thumbnails? As one of my favorite engineers always says…”This is about to get real nerdy, real quick!”
What the og:image tag?
Stay with me. We’ll get through this together…
Your website has to tell Facebook which picture to show. It does this by putting a “tag” on the preferred image which just means somewhere in the code of your webpage you’ll find something like this:
Facebook reads through the code looking for the “og:image” tag and when it finds it…Facebook grabs that picture and displays it with your link. In the example above, the og:image is 200x111px which is why it’s showing up on Facebook with a small picture. Until the og:image tag is updated to a picture that is at least 600x315px, Facebook will continue to display whatever small image has been tagged.
So… bottom line, it’s time to update your og:image tags. Here’s Facebook’s One Sheet on how to meet their new standards.
Have you seen this pop up in your Facebook Page Admin Panel yet? If not, you probably will soon. In a quest to work better with publishers, Facebook is rolling out a new tool called “Stories to Share.”
“Stories to Share” is simply a way of letting newsrooms know which of their online stories are already getting the most buzz on social media and therefore have a good chance to get even MORE buzz going. Basically, it means readers are already engaging with your story via the Facebook Share button on your website, so Facebook recommends your news organization Share it directly on Facebook too because there’s a higher likelihood the story will get engagement. This falls in-line with Facebook’s new(ish) philosophy that news organizations should be posting more frequently.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s a screenshot of what it looks like for WRAL TV:
When a story gets a certain amount of engagement (so far there is no real data on how much it takes to trigger this), it will appear in the “Stories to Share” list which you can filter by several time frames:
You can then click “Share” to push it out to your Fans. And Facebook will allow you to add post text prior to posting. Beware though, it will default to “On your own timeline” …so unless you want to Share the story to your own Profile, you’ll need to change that to “On a Page you manage” and select the Page.
At launch, Facebook rolled out “Stories to Share” to 29 media organizations over a seven-day period to see what happened with referral traffic on the organizations’ websites. On average, those 29 media organizations increased their number of posts by 57%. According to Justin Osofsky, VP of Media Partnerships at Facebook, those organizations then saw an increase in referral traffic to their websites of more than 80%!
Right now, at least 1,500 news organizations have been given the “Stories to Share” tool. Our friends at Facebook have agreed to fast track the tool to our SND Client Pages. So if you’re an SND client and you don’t see the new “Stories to Share” in your Admin Panel but would like to, email me!
Facebook isn’t worried about HOW you post… they’re worried about WHAT you post. The company has entire teams of people devoted to making sure great content surfaces first in your News Feed. Yet every few months the rumor that Facebook is actively punishing publishers just for posting through a 3rd party tool flares up again. The reality is, if you were to ask Facebook (which I encourage you to do) they would tell you Facebook does not punish 3rd party Posts and it does not give preferential treatment to Posts made at Facebook.com. But unless Mark Zuckerberg calls each and every Page Owner himself, skeptics will remain.
I’m the founder of a 3rd party tool. So it would be easy for anyone reading this to claim bias – but first, click the links, read the articles and check my sources. Recognize that Facebook gives its blessing to many 3rd party tools – SocialNewsDesk included – because we push content and traffic to Facebook. SocialNewsDesk now has more than 600 newsrooms using our tool and we have Facebook’s attention. Now, I’d like to ask for a moment of yours …
Why can’t my Fans see all my Posts?
Did you know every time you visit News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential posts from friends and Pages for you to see? Facebook can’t possibly show you ALL of that, so they have to prioritize. That’s why some posts are seen, and others aren’t. Ultimately Facebook wants to serve up the most relevant Posts, and they use the News Feed algorithm to do that based on how great the Post is… not what tool you used to post it. In reality, Facebook is quite open about how they decide which Posts to show and which ones not to:
Journalists hate being kept in the dark. And certainly, we all wish Facebook would tell us EXACTLY how News Feed works. But this is a pretty good start. And if you read this you’ll notice it does not say “Whether you used Facebook.com or a 3rd party to Post.” I think everyone can agree, the tool you use to type out your Post does not determine how good your content is. So forcibly decreasing Organic Reach on a Post simply because it came through a 3rd party tool would go against Facebook’s own stated mission.
But what if there’s a bug?
It’s possible. It’s happened before. There was a time (September 2011-April 2012) when 3rd party tools were at a disadvantage by default on Facebook. The main issues were that Facebook was collapsing 3rd party API updates (which no longer happens) and the fact that the “via Publisher” tag differentiated posts made via 3rd parties (this no longer exists). Both things have been resolved, and tested. Repeatedly. In fact, Jon Loomer did a study recently in which he declared there is no longer any difference between posting with 3rd party apps or directly. Here’s how he did the latest test:
The results showed that there is virtually no difference between posting with a 3rd party tool or directly to Facebook:
”The goal was to prove that there is not this significant punishment (67% as reported in April, 2012) when publishing from a third party app.”
But my Organic Reach has decreased!
Yes, it probably has. Facebook has been substantially changing the way News Feed works for the past year (or more) and the result is that average Organic Reach has been steadily declining for all Posts, not just those made via 3rd parties (such as my company, SocialNewsDesk). Facebook has consistently said it does not punish Posts made via 3rd party tools. I’ve personally asked my Facebook contacts to confirm this many times, as recently as last week. And it’s actually listed as one of the “common myths” of how News Feed works by Belle Beth Cooper in this article.
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t make any official statements on this issue but what Facebook has said publicly is that Pages organically reach about 16% of their fans on average. And each time Facebook changes the News Feed algorithm (often), users tend to experience a decline in Reach (read their complaints)- with or without 3rd party tools.
But I want my Organic Reach to increase!
I certainly understand that Page owners want to see 100% Organic Reach. And I understand it’s frustrating that Facebook isn’t clear on exactly how the News Feed works. However, based on my discussions with Facebook, the only way for Page owners to increase Organic Reach is to post great content. Trying to game the system by changing where, how and who posts won’t work. And while it’s tempting to compare one post to another, general assumptions can’t be made that way – the News Feed algorithm is far too complex and changes far too often.
Fine. What CAN I do?
Control what you can control. Don’t try to outsmart Facebook’s engineers (I’ve met them, trust me… it’s not a good plan). Instead, do what you do best – be a journalist! My suggestions:
1. Find great stories and tell them.
2. Take great pictures and show them.
3. Post links often for more referral traffic. (new study!)
4. Ask questions and have a conversation.
5. Streamline your process. If a 3rd party tool makes you more efficient – use it.
Questions? Comments? I welcome them. Reach out to me anytime @kimsnd or firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m sure you’ve seen this trend on Facebook with pre-produced images that have text on top? At SND, we call those “Engraphics”… as in: Engaging + Graphics = Engraphics. (Feel free to alert the folks at Oxford Dictionaries).
Engraphics are a great way to make your call to action bigger and bolder. And for stories that don’t have an excellent image, this is a way to give them more visual appeal:
The question is … for busy newsrooms posting dozens of times per day: How can you pre-produce these types of images quickly? Well, there are a few options. There are several phone apps for adding text to your images. Or, if you’re working from the newsroom, you can download the PowerPoint document I created (link below). It’s completely customizable so you can upload your own images and add your own text in seconds. Then just save and post.
It just got a whole lot easier to promote your news website in the Facebook News Feed. Facebook announced a big change in the way “Link Posts” look in the feed. Have you noticed the change?
Link posts used to look like this:
Now, they look like this:
This could very well close the gap between “Link Posts” versus “Photo Posts” in the race for Facebook engagement. The larger thumbnails give those “Link Posts” nearly equal billing in terms of News Feed real estate. My early guess is this will give Page Owners more flexibility to switch up they type of posts they make…which is a good thing for content.
Is Your Website Optimized?
If you haven’t done so yet, make sure you check the image size and meta data on your website. Facebook suggests that the minimum image size be 560×292 pixels, but in order for it to work for everyone, it should be 1200×627 pixels. When posted, the entire image and text box will become a giant link that will point people to your website. But if your photo is too small (or non-existent) on your website, then this update won’t help you increase engagement.
With last week’s announcement, Facebook has flipped its stance on Fan Page contesting. For newsrooms, this is a substantial shift in what’s allowed, but has little impact on what works. Here’s what you need to know:
You may run a contest on your Timeline (with or without an App).
You may automatically enter people who post on your Timeline or Comment/Like a Page Post.
You may automatically enter people who message your Page.
You may use “Likes” as a voting mechanism.
For Page owners, this opens the door for a variety of contests which used to be grounds for Page deletion:
CAN: If you want to give away a prize to an existing Fan… just pick a Fan and give it to them.
CAN: If you want to post a picture and run a “caption contest” such that the best one wins, you can do that.
CAN’T: You may NOT ask people to SHARE a post in order to be entered to win a contest. But if you’re using a 3rd Party App, you CAN ask Fans to Share the information about Contest App. In that case, Sharing doesn’t enter them in the contest.
With the shift in policy, your Page can now buy Facebook Ads to “boost” these types of posts and get more Reach. That may have weighed in Facebook’s decision or maybe they’re just tired of trying to chase down every Page that gives away a coffee mug to one of its 200 Fans? Either way, there were plenty of Pages running these types of “forbidden contests” before…the only difference now is they’re not forbidden.
So, does that mean you still need a 3rd Party App to run your Facebook contests? Yes and No. What you can do WITH an App is far more than what you can do WITHOUT an App – regardless of the Facebook rules change. So it’s less about what’s allowed…and more about what you’re actually trying to accomplish:
Simple for you, Simple for them: The more Fans you have, the harder it is to sift through thousands of Likes, Comments, etc to choose a winner. An App gives you a database of participants and a simple, measurable way to select an eligible winner. If you pick a winner at random without using an App, it’s easy to wind up with someone who isn’t even in your DMA.
Happy Lawyers: The more valuable the prize, the more scrutiny your contest and its procedures will receive from your Fans and your legal department. Verifying a winner’s eligibility, displaying contest rules and asking users to “accept” the rules are all nearly impossible without an App.
Get More LIKES: While you can state that the winner must be a Fan of your Page to win, there’s no way to require they click Like without hiding the entry form behind the Like-gate of an App. Someone could easily Comment/Like a Post without clicking that Page Like button and then it would be up to you to manually track down who Likes your Page and who doesn’t.
Promote the Contest: Contests inside Apps are far easier to promote. They have their own place on your Fan Page and it’s easy to direct viewers on where to go to enter… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d5AN7IWjJE
Without an App your only real option would be to PIN your Post to the top of your Page…but that almost guarantees that users will engage with the Post without Like-ing your Fan Page. (see ‘Get More Likes’).
Make Money with Social: Co-Branded contest sponsorships are one of the simplest ways to bring in direct ROI from your Facebook efforts. Apps give you a way to promote the sponsor and gather Likes for the sponsor’s Page at the same time.
Collect Data and Email Addresses: If you want to collect any data (email, phone number, name, address, marketing questions), you pretty much have to use an App. There’s no way for you to do that otherwise.
I recently got an email from a newsroom manager that went about like this: “I’m about to get in a fight with some other people at my station over how often we should post to Facebook, can you help?” I responded quickly, so as to avoid a newsroom melee. And as I did, it occurred to me that perhaps I could help prevent a few more fistfights over Facebook frequency by sharing this with you all. So before you punch your producer, here are a few things to consider:
What Facebook Says
I talked for a while with Facebook’s Journalism Program Manager this week. His thought on frequency is that Facebook’s News Feed algorithm doesn’t really punish Pages for posting too much. He explained that the News Feed algorithm will show each post to only about 12-14% of your Fans on average so it’s unlikely that any one Fan would see all…or even most of your Posts in a single day, so you are somewhat unlikely to become annoying to them. Nonetheless, he says, content and engagement are always more of a concern than frequency.
75% of impressions on Facebook happen within the first 2.5 hours the post is online [STUDY]. So if a post isn’t racking up engagement by then – it’s probably dead in the water. Meaning, you may as well post something else.
Sidebar Fan Pages
We do see some stations have success with side-bar Fan Pages. For example, if your weather team is posting nonstop to your main brand Page, creating a Weather Fan Page will give your most devoted weather Fans a place to turn for non-stop weather updates without clogging up your main Page. And while I usually don’t recommend splitting your audience, if your weather team is highly motivated to post a large amount of content, this Page may take on its own identity and really draw a unique following from your main Page.
Is There Ever Too Much?
Sticking with the weather example, if your weather department is making tons of high quality posts to your main Page (with images, links, calls to action, questions) and getting a lot of engagement, then their content will help your Page overall – even if they post A LOT. If they are not posting quality posts, the high volume of content shouldn’t really HURT your Page (according to Fb) but it will be somewhat neutral and even border on a waste of their time (according to me). Ideally, I would prefer that they spend their time crafting a few HIGHLY engaging posts per day versus spitting out a ton of low-engagement updates. To me, that’s a better use of everyone’s time.
Where’s the Proof?
If you really want to get serious about deciding what frequency is best for YOUR Page…you can do so with the data. And no one can fight with that! For a few weeks, try posting a high volume, then try posting a lower volume. Simply export every post made during that time period from Facebook Insights (or the SocialNewsDesk Post Manager) and compare the number of likes, comments and shares you got during the high-frequency week to the number you got during the low frequency week. That should give you a pretty good idea of what you should aim for.
Staying on the Same Page
Once you’ve set a goal for frequency, or while you’re experimenting… SocialNewsDesk has a cool feature to help.
It’s called the Frequency Manager. Basically, as any member of your team views his SND Dashboard, he will see a little area at the top of each column that’s red or blue. If it’s red, it means a post is past due. If it’s blue it will say when the next post is due. All based on the goals you’ve set in the system for that Page or account. Want more info? Email or tweet me.
Facebook’s recent changes put journalists and news organizations in the driver’s seat when it comes to the News Feed algorithm. It’s a seat newsrooms should be comfortable in by now, and yet many aren’t quite settled in. Facebook’s equation for determining which posts to show to which users (commonly referred to as EdgeRank) is much maligned by Page Owners – journalists included. And while no brand will ever be able to control Facebook’s algorithm…newsrooms have a decided advantage: content.
Facebook News Feed Changes
The constantly changing News Feed equation is Facebook’s way of making sure users see what’s most important to them each time they log in. It’s a tricky scenario to balance the desire of the Brand Page to reach “everyone” …with the desire of the User who wants to see only what’s important to them. By definition – there’s friction. As explained by Facebook VP, Chris Cox, this week’s changes are intended to “create a balance where ultimately, there’s transparency on the publisher about the insights on the content that they post, but then ultimately, we’re in the service of the person having the most engaging and interesting possible experience every single time that they come to the site.”
Here are the major changes Facebook rolled out this week:
Story Bumping: Stories you haven’t seen yet because they were “below the fold,” on News Feed are eligible to be bumped up further in News Feed the next time you check Facebook.
Last Actor: Facebook will take into account the last 50 engagements of a user, giving more weight to people and pages the user has recently interacted with.
Why Newsrooms are (still) at an Advantage on Facebook
As a news org, these News Feed changes shouldn’t scare you one bit… so long as your newsroom is leading with great content! Here’s why:
Story Bumping is a positive change for brand pages in general as it’s simply going to make the algorithm smarter and should result in more stories being seen overall. Inside Facebook reports: “With Story Bumping in place for these users, there was a five percent increase in stories seen from friends, an 8 percent increase in stories seen from pages, and a jump from 57 to 70 percent in overall stories read.” Now, this may mean that older content will show up higher on the News Feed than newer content in some cases. But the idea is that the older story is “Bumped” up because it’s still more relevant to that user than some of the newer stories. What you can do:
Update developing story posts often. If you make a post, don’t assume that no one will see it after a couple of hours. This Story Bumping change means some of the older, more relevant stories you post will live longer in the News Feed. So be sure you’re updating them with new links and new information in the comments.
The Last Actor change makes the assumption that if a user has Liked, Commented or Shared a post from a Friend or Page recently then that User probably wants to see more from that Friend or Page. According to AllFacebook, it takes the last 50 interactions of the user into account. This is just a slight tweak on the “Affinity” portion of the algorithm which measures the relationship between the viewing user (Fan) and the creator of the story (Fan Page). Historically, the closer the relationship, the higher the score. The Last Actor change puts more emphasis on the timing of that relationship. What you can do:
Focus on engagement. Engagement is like a snow ball. The more Fans Like, Comment, click and Share one post … the more likely Facebook is to show your next post to a higher percentage of your Fans…which means more of them will have the opportunity to Like, Comment, click and Share…and so it goes. Put out engaging content, ask questions, include calls to action and focus on what you do best. The more you do that, the more Fans will connect with your posts.
Got any questions about Facebook’s News Feed or how to push your social strategy to the next level? Let me know!