“Like” journalism on Facebook

“Like” journalism on Facebook

On a media outlets’ website, choice of presentation is of key importance. When distributing content through Facebook however, there are no choices to be made. The social media juggernaut has just one way of doing things, and I think the best way to manipulate it is by motivating interactions.

On a Facebook user’s “News Feed,” content is displayed according to a default ranking that the site calls “Top News.” It is an estimation of relevancy to the user based on an algorithm that takes into account the rate of interaction with a source, or the rate of their friends’ interactions. Therefore the most effective way to distribute content via Facebook and grow a readership on the site is through motivating interactions.

All content updates on Facebook are presented chronologically on a fan page, making the timing of new posts an important part of the successful strategy. Each posting should be spaced just enough to take advantage of the interactions from the previous story, which are bringing users there from their News Feeds.

One simple trick is to ask users to vote on something by clicking “Like.” Each time they “Like” something, that interaction is visible to their friends. From there, the topic may spread. “Likes” also promote a topic’s relevancy in the News Feed. This strategy is, of course, most effective if it the question is phrased in a way most readers will find positive.

The “Like” strategy can also be applied in other ways. For example, users can be asked to vote for a favorite person or place by clicking the button on a picture within a slideshow. The slideshow and associated content thereby gain promotion and spark discussion among users.

Simply presenting a new item in the form of a question can also produce a noticeable increase in interactions. In my experience, however, users are less likely to write a comment than the instant, one-click feedback of the “Like” button.

Accompanying all postings should be links to the sources on one’s own site, since the Facebook community is a good resource but not a financial benefit. Media outlets need to use strategies to promote their Facebook pages’ relevancy in the News Feed so that the users will in turn be redirected back to the outlet’s site and accompanying advertisements.