Working with Media Organizations to Build Social News

July 28, 2010 at 2:31pm

Small blogs to major media organizations focus on producing great content and surfacing it to the right people. Facebook Platform offers the ability to supplement this content by making the experience more social — allowing people to discover the content their friends and other readers most recommend and care about.


We're committed to being the platform that helps sites build social and individualized experiences across the Web. We recently set forth to learn how news organizations can best use Facebook to (1) drive growth in audience and traffic, (2) increase engagement, and (3) gain valuable customer insights. Today, we're sharing some early findings and beginning a broader dialogue through a new Facebook and Media Page.


New Data and Resources


Over the past several weeks, our team conducted independent analyses of the 100 top media sites integrated with social plugins, and correlated the implementations with user engagement. We also analyzed the Pages of several top media organizations and the stories they posted, including their content, types of status update, and time of day. Though these findings are early and directional, we wanted to share them and advance the discussion of how Facebook can help meet the needs of media organizations.


Here's what we found:

  1. Driving audience and traffic through:

  • Implementing the Like button. Websites experienced 3-5x greater click-through rates on the Like button when they implemented the version that includes thumbnails of friends, enabled users to add comments (which 70% of top performing sites did), and placed the Like button at the top and bottom of articles and near visually exciting content like videos and graphics.

  • Publishing to users through Pages and Like button connections. In our analysis of stories published by top media organizations, we found that (a) stories involving emotional topics, passionate debates, and important sports events have 2-3x the activity of other stories, (b) status updates which ask simple questions or encourage a user to Like the story have 2-3x the activity, and (c) stories published in the early morning or just before bedtime have higher engagement.

  • Increasing engagement by:

    • Implementing the Activity Feed and Recommendations social plugins. Sites that place plugins above the fold and on multiple pages receive more engagement. For instance, sites that placed the Activity Feed on both the front and content pages received 2-10x more clicks per user than sites with the plugins on the front page alone.

    • Using Live Stream for live events. The Live Stream box, as notably implemented by CNN for the Obama inauguration, can create engaging experiences on partner sites. For instance, during the World Cup, there were over 1.5 million status updates through the Live Stream box on media websites such as Univision, TF1, ESPN, Cuatro, RTVE, and Telecinco.

    • Creating timely Pages. In addition to analyzing engagement on stories, we also examined the effect of creating focused sub-pages and found that they can have substantially higher engagement. For example, stories published from a World Cup-focused Page of one major media company had 5x the engagement rate per user than stories from the company's main Page.

    • Using the search API to create highly engaging visualizations that draw on status updates from Facebook users who share their posts publicly. The New York Times created an engaging visualization around the World Cup which sized players based on the frequency of public status updates. Your site can do the same through any topic of your choice, and show the buzz around everything from news items to events to local debates.

  • Seeing what's working with Insights.

    • Finally, media organizations can understand their customers better through Facebook Insights. For example, one major German news site found Insights to be particularly helpful when it was trying to engage a younger audience online. Insights helped them optimize and understand the activities that continued to engage this audience.

    • Facebook Insights helps partners monitor key performance indicators, view customer demographics and interactions, test product changes, and optimize key drivers of growth. For example, you can view how active your fans are and receive feedback on what you post to Pages. These analytics can be accessed through our online dashboards, as well as programmatically through our API <link to documentation on Graph API>.



    • We look forward to new innovations in social news and continuing the conversation at www.facebook.com/media.


      Justin, who leads media partnerships for Facebook, hopes to see you tonight at the Hacks/Hackers event in San Francisco.