Why Facebook is sometimes more important than your website for breaking news

EVERY regional newspaper should have its own Facebook page, and use it actively.

A recent study by analytics platform Parse.ly highlighted the growing importance of Facebook in driving traffic to news websites, according to journalism.co.uk.

Most people who do not have your website bookmarked on their browser find the stuff on it by searching on Google.

But the proportion of those who find your content through Facebook is increasing.

Parse.ly says page views from Facebook increased to 26 per cent in January 2014, up from 16 per cent in October 2013.

Put simply, Facebook is becoming an extremely important way to distribute journalism.

To really appreciate its importance you need to understand when people are looking at your website.

The chances are most people are online at lunchtime, catching up on the latest local news at their office PC (though there will, of course, be variations between different newspapers serving different readerships).

Your audience will then tail off into the evening.

But have a look at the metrics for your Facebook page. They are under the “See Insights” button and you have to be a page administrator to see them.

Click on the “Posts” tab and Facebook will display a graphic showing the time of day that most of your fans are online. It is likely to be in the evening.

This, then, presents an opportunity to reach people at a time of day when they would not normally be checking your site regularly for updates.

The most obvious reason you would wish to do this is when a major news story breaks.

This Worcester News story was posted in the evening, compiled largely through user generated content (UGC), and received thousands of click-throughs from a status on our Facebook page.

It might also be worth identifying stories or promotional items you think will play well to an evening audience, and then posting links on your Facebook page.

Facebook is just part of the increasing shift from search to social media as a driver of traffic to news websites. Understanding how to harness its influence should be an essential newsroom skill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About John Wilson

Editor of Hereford Times, Ludlow Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard and Gloucestershire Gazette series. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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