Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The Wall Street Journal website — paywalled from the very beginning — turns 20 years old today
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Jan. 25, 2012, 3:02 p.m.

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.

POSTED     Jan. 25, 2012, 3:02 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The Wall Street Journal website — paywalled from the very beginning — turns 20 years old today
“From the very beginning it was very clear we needed to cover all the same concerns and sensibilities of the print Journal even though we were online and even though we were a young staff.”
Newsonomics: In the platform wars, how well are you armed?
“Think about platforms as fishing places where you can find large, engaged audiences and build a relationship with them by providing content. Then offer these users some other services off-platform.”
Wired’s making the long and slow switch to HTTPS and it wants to help other news sites do the same
With its HTTPS implementation, Wired’s starting with its security vertical and for users who pay for the ad-free version of the site.
What to read next
0
tweets
How Atlas Obscura helps its web audience discover the real world
Events like its upcoming Obscura Day are meant to help the site’s digital readers discover places they previously only read about.
0Inspired by “independent YouTubers,” wary of cable, Vox.com takes its explainer mission to video
“I made one rule starting out: No desks.”
0You can now get personalized Breaking News alerts on Slack
The NBC-owned company’s new Slack bot lets you follow more than 90,000 topics.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚