Have you ever noticed a competitor’s link on Facebook or Twitter and thought… “hm, that looks better than our links.” If you have, chances are you’re social media meta tags could use some work. This simple, yet powerful update to your newsroom’s website can significantly impact how much traffic your social posts send to your website. I had the pleasure of talking with 352 Media Group‘s director of digital marketing, Erin Everhart to get the scoop on setting up social media meta tags for newsrooms:
Q: What exactly is a Social Media Meta Tag?
Erin: It’s a way for social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn to read different pieces of your website and know what to include when you post something on the individual network. They’re pretty similar to meta tags (ie title tags and meta descriptions) that search engines read to know what to include in the search engine results page. So if your Social Media Meta Tags aren’t set up right, your post might be missing the thumbnail image or other important information when it’s shared on a social platform.
Q: How could a newsroom benefit from implementing Social Media Meta Tags on its website?
Erin: You know how articles with images receive more traffic than articles without images? It’s the same way when you post an article on Facebook or Twitter (or anywhere else). We live in an extremely visual world, and having an image attached to your link always generates more clicks. The more you can do to make your post standout and catch peoples’ eyes, the more clicks you get, which brings more traffic, which brings more pageviews, and ultimately more adsense revenue.
Q: What does it take to add the Open Graph tags? Can you recommend any resources?
Erin: It’s pretty easy as long as you know how Facebook reads data. The problem is, Facebook Open Graph is different from your typical meta descriptions for search engines, so unless you take some manual action, you may see inconsistency with your posts, which is a huge pain. Here are the main tags that you’ll need to get a higher click-through rate on your Facebook posts. I’ll use this post, With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility, as the example:
og: title – Title of content
<meta property=”og:title” content=”With Great Data Comes Great Responsibility”>
og: description – Description of content
<meta property=”og:description” content=”The Boston Marathon Bombing’s crowd-sourced investigation and real-time manhunt on social media were a new breed of social news.”>
Erin: It’s pretty much the exact same thing as Facebook Open Graph, just specific for Twitter. It allows your Twitter posts to include a title, image and description when you’re posting a link. The catch is that this really only sticks out the most if you’re reading your tweets on Twitter.com and not using a desktop or mobile client, which most people typically use to read Twitter.
Q: What does it take to add Twitter Cards? Can you recommend any resources?
Erin: Twitter’s developer portal actually does a great job at showing you how to set up Twitter cards https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards. I don’t think they’re nearly as important as Facebook Open Graph for the reason listed above, though.
Q: How important is it for a newsroom to consider using social media meta tags as a part of its social strategy?
Erin: Critically important. This is a great way to make sure people don’t just stay stuck on your Facebook page because really, what good is a Facebook fan is they’re only connecting with you on Facebook? The whole goal of social media is to use it as a MEDIUM to move people back to your website or your blog, but so many people only focus on keep their fans in one segregated area and that doesn’t do you any good. You want your Facebook fans to work for you and that means funneling them through your customer journey so they complete your call to action.
Erin Everhart is the director of digital marketing at 352 Media Group, a digital agency providing design, development and marketing solutions for clients ranging from startups and mid-sized business to prominent brands like Microsoft and Porsche. She’s a contributing author for Mashable, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Small Business Trends, and speaks at conferences nationwide.
Thanks so much to the NAB for making this session recording available! It was an absolute pleasure for me to participate on a panel called “A Fireside Chat with Facebook and Google: Partnerships and New Ventures.” (I am still wondering how I managed to get the invite!) This panel discussion featured a conversation with industry leaders from Facebook and Google on how TV and Radio stations can manage and monetize social media. I came in at the end to do a presentation on Best Practices for TV and Radio station newsrooms:
I will never forget the day that, as a young EP, I failed to notice a misspelling in a script. My jaw dropped as we labeled a respected policeman… the “Ass Chief. of Police.” I was not fired (thankfully). And I’m still waiting for my invite to the TODAY show. If you’ve worked in TV for more than 5 minutes, chances are you have plenty of stories just like mine. So how is it that AJ Clemente’s misstep has gone from blunder to blessing while the rest of us are left with nothing but shoptalk? Two words: social media.
More video is uploaded to YouTube each week than has ever been produced in the history of broadcasting. So for AJ’s video to stand out, to go viral… it needed a spark. That spark came from social media. In less than 3 days the video has more than 1.3 million views – more if you count the dozen or so copycat uploads. On Sunday, my Facebook News Feed was filled with links to the video…a dozen of my friends had posted it. Each was emphatic AJ’s video was must-see TV.
So, I watched it. And you probably did too. Comments poured in. In addition to the obvious swearing, some also pointed out that it sounded like he used the word “gay” as a slur. Clemente turned to Twitter (where else) to clear that up:
And it wasn’t just Clemente on the social channels. KFYR’s News Director took to Facebook to give her own explanation. The post quickly racked up nearly 2,000 comments…many of which pleading with the station NOT to fire Clemente:
Despite the outpouring of support in favor of Clemente, he was suspended and later fired. He made the announcement … on Twitter:
This tweet has now been Retweeted more than 700 times. Thanks to social media, Clemente has become a viral sensation and cashed in on his 15 minutes of fame with trips to The Today Show, Letterman and Live! with Kelly and Michael just to name a few…
So while this may not be quite the way you’d like to get your invite to stardom… there are certainly a few lessons to learn from Clemente’s journey…
1. If you want people to watch your YouTube videos be sure to use your social channels to promote them heavily.
2. Social Media is an excellent source for crisis management. Use it. And if you don’t know how… call us!
3. There really is no such thing as bad publicity. Even AJ’s former station has benefited…KFYR’s Facebook Fans are up by about 10% and it appears the ND’s post got more Likes, Shares and Comments than any post in the history of the station’s Fan Page!
Amid the flurry of news that’s been coming out of Facebook, you may have missed this tidbit: Facebook has loosened the rules on Cover Image art. It’s good news for newsrooms who’ve been chomping at the bit to use this part of their Timeline to more creatively promote their brand or to help promote a Facebook Contest or Timeline App. Here are the old rules compared to the new rules:
Old Rules for Timeline Cover Images:
Covers may not include:
i. images with more than 20% text;
ii. price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
iii. contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
iv. references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
v. calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”
New Rules for Timeline Cover Images:
All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can’t be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else’s copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines. Covers may not include images with more than 20% text.
While this does give newsrooms more flexibility, it’s important to keep in mind that very few of your Fans will ever visit your newsroom’s Timeline directly. So changing your Cover Image routinely for the sake of variety may be a bit like the tree that falls in the forest when no one is around to hear it. The exception to this is when you create a campaign around your Timeline as a destination. For example, promoting a Facebook Contest or App on air will give people a REASON to visit your Timeline. And when they get there, you now have more leeway from Facebook to dazzle your Fans with your Cover Image.
Perhaps the most worthwhile use of this new-found freedom is to use your Cover Image as traffic director. The old rules disallowed any calls to action which meant Pages couldn’t upload a Cover Image with a giant arrow pointing at the Like button or at a Contest App. There is no specific restriction on calls to action in the new rules. So this provides an excellent opportunity to make sure your Fans don’t get lost when they visit your Timeline looking for the contest or app that you are promoting. Go ahead and create a Cover Image that points right at it and says “Click Below to Win!” or similar. Just make sure the image doesn’t have more than 20% text!
Got other ideas on how to use Cover Images now that the new rules are in place? Leave a link to your timeline in the comments!
Newsrooms and news people are competitive. We like to be first, fastest, best. I’m guilty of this for sure. So, when one of our SocialNewsDesk newsrooms hits 100K Fans, I can’t help but jump for joy. And while social-media purists will always put quality over quantity…I say, a little bit of both never hurt anyone. Here are a few ways our clients made it to the 100K Club …
1. Snag the Stragglers
Chances are, if you look around on Facebook you’ll find a few Fan Pages that are related to your newsroom’s brand but have been abandoned or forgotten for one reason or another. Some are Community Pages or Place Pages created organically and never claimed. Some are niche pages the newsroom created and later abandoned. Rather than letting these orphan pages get lost forever, follow WTXF‘s lead and merge those pages with your main Fan Page if it feels like they’re serving the same audience. This helped WTXF quickly go from about 97K to well over 110K in the blink of an eye. Here’s more info on merging pages.
2. Consistent Contesting
WNYW has a strong vision and serious goals. They’ve been consistent with content and aggressive with contesting. Today, they hit 100K. Here’s an infographic showcasing their journey…
3. Do Something Cool
WXIN has mastered the Fan of the Day franchise. They’re clever in their execution and consistent with their approach. Using the SND App Suite, WXIN sends Viewers to Facebook where they can register to become the Fan of the Day and for a chance to win a prize. The winning Fan of the Day is then featured on-air. To top it off, the franchise is sponsored so it brings in thousands per month in recurring revenue for the station! It’s a sponsorship that becomes more valuable by the day as WXIN is now up over 157K Fans!
And all kidding aside, once you have them in the door… you must engage them! Quantity means nothing without quality and vice versa. So build a strategy to build Fans… and then build one to keep them.
I’m sure most news people can relate to my memories of the early-2000s Anthrax scare. My TV station built a mail room outside the building and would not let anything inside until it had been “checked” (by our newsroom executive assistant, Gail…who would laugh about the latex gloves she’d been given for “protection”). In any case, we knew then as we do now…that newsrooms are a target. And yet so many newsrooms are leaving the door wide open for hackers, scammers and spammers to strike. It may not be Anthrax…but latex gloves won’t protect you from cyber crime either. Here are a few things that will:
1) Scam Alert!
If you haven’t seen a phishing scam on Twitter, you probably aren’t on Twitter. Most recently, a rather successful phishing scam has spread to hundreds of thousands of Twitter accounts. The MO is a Direct Message prodding you to click a link. If you do, the scammers will ask for your account info and authorization. Then – whammo – they’re sending the same message FROM your account to your followers. And so it spreads. It’s of particular danger for news people as this can quickly harm your credibility. To avoid it, follow these steps and pass them along to everyone in your newrsoom:
Do not click any suspicious links.
Report the DM and then delete it.
Change your Password often.
Tell the sender that their account is compromised.
Surely you witnessed Burger King and Jeep’s Twitter debacle and thought to yourself… that could have been MY newsroom?! Yet, I’m often stunned by the number of newsrooms who have not changed their Twitter password or updated their Facebook Admins in YEARS. And worse yet, their passwords are so simple (aka easy to remember) that any junior-high hacker with 5 minutes could break in and have a field day telling your followers about the “Free Money Falling from the Sky” or whatever nonsensical headline they’re apt to promote. It has happened to newsrooms, and yours is not immune (see photo). To protect yourself:
Do NOT share passwords with your whole news team.
Set SECURE passwords and change them often.
Use a 3rd party tool (shameless plug for SocialNewsDesk goes here) to give out access, NOT passwords.
Keep track of who posts what and when. Avoid the mob-posting mentality.
3. Can Spam!
Have you seen the one about the guy who is updating you on his weight loss progress? Yeah, that guy is probably eating a cheeseburger reveling in his good fortune that he found your page and brought his spamtastic posts to it. If you’d rather not help him promote his (diet) plan to take over the world… here’s what you can do:
Don’t click the link.
Report the user.
Ban the user from posting on your Page.
Delete the post.
Any other spams, hacks or scams you’ve seen? Let us know how you handled them in the comments. And if you have any questions about how SocialNewsDesk can help your newsroom become more secure – you know where to find me!
Posting to Facebook is a bit of an art form; but it doesn’t have to be complicated. For busy journalists, finding a formula that works is the name of the game. So even if you have no idea how Facebook uses Edge Rank to surface your content…here’s a simple checklist your newsroom can follow to make the most out of each post.
1. It starts with Content. I know this is cliche…but it’s true. Posting about a tree stump isn’t going to get you anywhere. Your goal as a content creator should be to think critically about what you’re posting to Facebook and why. Look back at old posts to see what type of content resonates with your audience. And similar to how you decide what to lead with in your newscast or put on the front page of your paper, utilize editorial judgement to choose which stories to post and when. Here are a few things that make great content for Facebook:
Behind the Scenes (or anything that isn’t available elsewhere)
2. Lead with the Pictures. Photo posts can get as much as 20X more engagement than posts without an image. To be clear, I’m defining a “photo post” as one that includes a photo as the attachment (not a post with a link attachment that has a thumbnail image…that would be called a “link post”). Facebook recently made the thumbnail for link posts larger. But it is still substantially smaller than the image in a photo post which most likely accounts for the engagement disparity.
3. Include a Link in the Body of the Text. Because “photo posts” tend to perform better than “link posts,” it is wise to attach a large image to your post and then include the link within the body of the text area. This way, you have the link but you also get the benefit of including a very large image. Remember, referral traffic is key to any Facebook strategy, so DON’T FORGET THE LINK!
4. Calls to Action are KEY! As you’re writing the post, work hard to include actionable phrases. The idea is to get your reader to respond to your post by clicking Like, posting a Comment or clicking Share (or all 3). Coax them into it by asking them a question or asking them to perform a certain task such as “Like this if…,” “Comment here to…” or “Share this with…”. These “calls to action” can lead to as much as 64% higher engagement on average.
5. Frequency Matters. Generally, 11-15 posts per day (specifically posts which contain news content) tend to get the highest amount of referral traffic. So consider that a starting point. And keep track of how your specific Fans respond. Tinker with that frequency to find your own sweet spot. And don’t forget about weekends… Journalists received the highest amount of feedback later in the week. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday had the highest amount of feedback — with Sunday receiving the highest amount of feedback at 25% more likes and 8% more comments above average.
Here’s a great example of the same content done in 3 very different ways:
Text-Only Post (above): The content choice is great…and the writer does a nice job of engaging Fans by asking a clever question. Unfortunately, because this post doesn’t have a link, it’s essentially a dead end and won’t drive any referral traffic to the newsroom’s website. Also, since there’s no picture at all, engagement will be an uphill battle.
Link Post (above): The link will help drive traffic and there IS a small picture of the royals. But studies tell us a larger image and call to action would really help amp up engagement here.
Photo Post (above): Now we’re talking … Big photo, link in the body of the text and… a call to action to “READ MORE.” Including a question for Fans to answer would be the icing on the cake!
Got other ideas for increasing engagement on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.
Remember when you could throw sheep and poke your Friends on Facebook? Well, make some room on the pile of forlorn features… the “via tag” is headed out to pasture. The moniker vanished from all News Feeds and Timelines today with little fanfare. Many users won’t even notice. But for brands, this is a significant shift. One that just about everyone is thrilled about.
This is what we’re talking about … the tiny reference at the end of a Facebook posts indicating which 3rd Party Posting Platform posted the content. This included all social media managers, phones, web plug-ins and pretty much anything that used the API. Here’s what it used to look like:
Posts made directly to Facebook’s native interface never had a “via” tag. And with today’s change, all posts will essentially look the same. The “via” tag has disappeared across the board. It’s a move Facebook thinks will increase engagement. Here’s why:
1 – Readers will focus on the content more and the source of the content less.
2 – It helps get rid of the un-true stigma that third-party apps hurt a page’s performance and will lead to more people using third-party apps who previously never considered them an option due to prior stigmas associated with them.
3 – It puts all content on an even playing field.
As you know, I’m the Founder of a third party posting platform – SocialNewsDesk. And yes, we will suffer some loss in terms of organic marketing when none of our posts say “via SocialNewsDesk” anymore. But I think the universal benefit outweighs this cost. This shift underscores what we’ve been preaching to our newsroom clients all along… content is KING! If you get lazy, your engagement will suffer. If you simulcast your content to Facebook and Twitter, your engagement will suffer. If you stop acting human, your engagement will suffer. Now, with the death of the “via tag,” the spotlight will rest firmly on the content as the source of a brand’s success or failure on Facebook. Questions about the method of posting will fade and the conversation will turn entirely to how to create engaging content. That’s what I call a win-win!
Math is normally not a journalists’ strong suit. However, in the case of EdgeRank it pays to give the numbers a nod. And while the algorithm below may seem scary at first, the concepts are actually much simpler than you might guess. And if you can grasp them, it will make a major impact on the success of your Facebook strategy.
For starters, EdgeRank is a mathematical equation. It’s the way Facebook determines what each of your Fans sees in their individual News Feeds. As you probably know, when you look at your News Feed you are NOT seeing EVERYTHING that EVERY one of your friends has posted. Facebook filters anywhere from 75-85 percent of content OUT of your News Feed. EdgeRank is how Facebook decides what to leave in.
This is the EdgeRank equation:
Let’s break it down:
AFFINITY: Affinity measures the relationship between the viewing user (Fan) and the creator of the story (Fan Page). The closer the relationship, the higher the score.
WEIGHT: Different types of posts carry different starting weights. The weight is increased as Likes, Comments, Shares increase.
TIME DECAY: As a post gets older, its value decreases.
Also, it’s important to note that with the latest round of EdgeRank changes in September, Facebook has confirmed that Negative Feedback is now calculated more heavily in the equation. For example:
WEIGHT: The more times a post is ignored the lower the value.
AFFINITY: The more complaints a Page receives, the lower the value.
So, what can you do? Here are a few tips for newsrooms who want to be strategic about Facebook EdgeRank:
To achieve a higher AFFINITY score:
1 – Respond: Avoid negative feedback by responding to comments quickly.
2 – Build Relationships: Personally engage your Fans to increase their interest in your Page over time.
To achieve a higher WEIGHT score:
1 – Remember that each Post-Type has a different starting value. Facebook has never explicitly said this, but based on studies the order is:
2 – Call to Action: Encourage users to like, comment, share by ASKING them to do so.
3 – Evaluate Post-Type Trends: If a Fan engages more with Photo posts, he’s more likely to see a Photo posts than any other type.
4 – Great Content: eye-catching images, controversies, debates, personal stories, hot-topics, breaking news, something worth talking about, liking and sharing.
To achieve a higher TIME DECAY score:
1 – Timing: Set goals for how often you want to post and change them based on how your community responds.
2 – Evaluate Trends: Make note of what happens when you post more or less often. Find the pace that’s right for YOUR Page.
Facebook’s stance on EdgeRank is that it’s designed to reward engaging content and hide the “spammy” content that some Brand Pages push out. Facebook says the September update to the algorithm ensures that brands’ posts only pop up in the feeds of those Fans who are most likely to like, comment or share it. So to me, this means it is still all about posting engaging content. And as a news organization, you have a built in advantage here! Newsrooms are posting great content that’s inherently newsworthy and engaging to Fans, whereas the rest of the “Brand Page community” is largely posting commercial advertisements/marketing messages and spam. The rest of the “Brand Page community” relies on EdgeRank to get them into the feeds. News organizations do not. News orgs are able to get there organically because they are putting out great content. Keep doing that – and you’ll always come out on top!
Everyone has lotto fever… and apparently it’s causing some Social Media Managers to develop amnesia. They’re forgetting Facebook’s most basic contesting rules! Check out what popped up in my News Feed today:
“You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism. For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.”
Which, in my interpretation, means that you can’t tell people that by clicking Like and Share on an image of a lotto ticket that they’ll be entered to win a portion of the value of that ticket. Facebook doesn’t want its platform turned into Publishers Clearing House.
If you want to run a contest… even if you want to run THIS contest… go ahead. But you must do it WITHIN a Facebook App. Need help setting it up? Contact SocialNewsDesk contest guru Elisa DeFoe: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, let’s just hope, for their sake, that this station’s ticket is a loser.