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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

New Facebook data: Be topical, ask questions, and tell jokes to win audience

Successful engagement by journalists on the social network looks a lot like successful engagement in the real world.

Write about current affairs. Add in a little commentary (or a question). And, for the love of all that is holy, include a link.

Those are three of the takeaways from some new data that Facebook just released on the use of its Subscribe feature —  the social network’s way to let journalists and readers connect without broaching the knotty issue of “friending.” Facebook’s Vadim Lavrusik and Betsy Cameron write: “People discover journalists to subscribe to on Facebook through their friends in News Feed; Facebook search; our “people to subscribe to” recommendations engine (which shows you who your friends are subscribing to and recommends journalists based on your interests); and other organic discovery mechanisms, such as simply seeing who your friends have subscribed to.”

But onto the stats, specifically, the ones that stick out about what content journalists are posting:

  • About a quarter of posts by journalists pose a question to readers, a tactic earlier Facebook research substantially increased engagement.
  • Posts that include both links and a little commentary or analysis generated about 20 percent more clicks.
  • Ask for it: Language like “read my story” or “check out my interview” bumps up engagement (clicks, likes, etc.) 37 percent.

The post also outlines some fuzzier numbers on how content types and styles can increase engagement:

Commentary and analysis on current events and breaking news receives 3x as many likes and 2x as many shares as the average post. Also, highlighting controversial stories on debatable subject matter can double the number of likes and shares the post receives.​

Reader shout-outs can increase in feedback by as much as 4x. Also, asking for recommendations can lead to a 3x increase in comments.​

In-depth analyses on global issues can yield a 1.5x increase in likes and 2.5x increase in shares.​

Powerful photos can yield an increase of a 2x in engagement (likes, comments and shares). Also, behind-the-scenes photos resulted in up to a 4x increase in engagement (likes, comments, shares).​

What else works? Being funny: “Humor in posts or a humorous picture can yield a 1.5x increase in likes and almost 5x increase in shares. Humor often shows the lighter and more personal side of the journalist, which is likely why it results in higher engagement.” Go check out Facebook’s post for more details and data.

                                   
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Joseph Lichterman    Aug. 26, 2014
Previously proudly without a homepage, the business site is trying to shift its email success to the web to build loyalty.
  • http://AkersFitness.com Bryan Akers

    Wow, they have data to back up that being funny, personable, and provide value can make you more popular :) LOL… I’m sorry, it just seems the title is a little obvious that they needed to do a study. I did find this post valuable though, especially regarding the new Facebook Subscribe Feature and will look more into that. I also really like the idea of engaging your audience and fans with a question to get more feedback. All good things to increase your social media fanbase!