Turning inner space into outer space

March 27, 2012

The tide is rising for Facebook, so you might as well ride it

Up until recently, I seldom if ever used Facebook, and had no interest in it. The few times I tried Facebook, it seemed way to confusing to bother with. So what happened recently to change my attitude? Numbers.

First, the stats for Facebook usage vs. other social media: The time people spend on Facebook dwarfs Twitter and the rest. Second, the stats for Facebook referrals to websites vs. other social media: Again, it’s the man against the boys.

Now comes news from The Guardian that Facebook is on its way to surpassing almighty Google for bringing in traffic. They have the advantage of being been invited to take part in a new type of embedded content app within Facebook. But still, the lines on the graph (shown above) are staggering. Referrals from Google chug along at a more-or-less even pace, while referrals from Facebook soar ever upward.

Tanya Cordrey, director of digital development at Guardian News & Media, spoke about this phenomenon at the Guardian Changing Media Summit in London:

But last month, we felt a seismic shift in our referral traffic. For the first time in our history, Facebook drove more traffic to than Google for a number of days, accounting for more than 30 per cent of our referrer traffic. This is a dramatic result from a standing start five months ago.
Social traffic has since dipped below search — but I believe it is only a matter of time before it becomes the main driver of traffic to many core Guardian products.

Even without a special app, publishers will find it well worth their while to spend more time on Facebook. My own strategy is to get over Facebook-phobia and learn to embrace the culture. People who use Facebook have a certain way of relating to one another that differs from Twitter and other social media. I would be hard-pressed to put it into words, but after awhile you just get it.

After that, you need to treat your news organization’s Facebook page they way anyone else does. Post items that you genuinely believe your readers will find interesting. Pay attention to the kinds of things that get “likes” and post more along that line — just the way you would if you were an individual posting stuff you knew your circle of friends would enjoy.

Don’t make your Facebook page impersonal by bombarding readers with an automatic feed. Would you do that to your friends? And don’t just copy and paste words from your news stories. Rewrite it so that your personality comes through. Finally, don’t be afraid to be quirky. If someone sends in a photo by email, then share it. People will appreciate that you’re using Facebook the way it was intended.