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How to Balance Engagement and Traffic to Maximize Facebook Success

By Chris Hart
Nov 15, 2016

There’s no question about Facebook being an integral part of the marketing process. With 1.13 billion daily users, the relationship a publisher has with their audience on Facebook is invaluable. With the News Feed, Facebook has given priority to a great user experience and high engagement on their platform, which is why they make continuous algorithm changes to improve user experience.

In July of 2015, audience data and analytics company Parse.ly revealed that Facebook had indeed surpassed Google as the top traffic referrer to its customers’ news sites. Their latest report confirms that Facebook is still driving a higher percentage of traffic to news sites than Google. Apart from Instant Articles, there’s no mechanism in place for publishers to monetize their content directly on Facebook. This makes the 41.4 percent of traffic Facebook drives to your website even more valuable.

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So what does this mean for publishers? Should you be increasing the number of Link Posts you publish on Facebook every day?

Why it’s important to strike the right balance

Publishers have to play nice with the Facebook algorithm to build audience affinity and maximize organic reach by following Facebook’s best practices. It’s a catch-22: Posts with higher engagement appear in the News Feed more often, but in order to show up in the News Feed, posts need engagement.

One of the biggest mistakes we see publishers make is focusing on only traffic generation (i.e. posting links) without spending time on the platform to increase engagement. If you mix in engagement strategies with traffic acquisition you will be rewarded with more exposure in the News Feed.

Varying the types of posts you make to your audiences

There are four primary post types most publishers use to package their content for Facebook:

  • Large Image Link Post
  • Small Image Link Post
  • Photo Post
  • Video Post

Your audience has an affinity score with each post type on Facebook. The reason this is important is that certain post types will reach more people in the news feed and specific post types are used for traffic acquisition or audience engagement.

Packaging and distributing your content to Facebook as video content is a winning strategy for publishers to organically increase audience affinity and reach in the News Feed.

Hook Your Audience in with Engaging Videos

Consumers are watching 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day. In 2014, videos came to life in the News Feed with auto-play, which led to a more than 50 percent increase in video views in just two months. People love watching videos on Facebook, and as people share them with their friends, your audience engagement and affinity is increasing.

That’s the key.

Here’s how you can create engaging videos for Facebook that your audience will want to like and share with their own friends and family.

  • Make the first second count: Since the video will auto-play as your audience is scrolling through their News Feed, the first couple of frames in your video need to grab their attention. You can accomplish this with a custom thumbnail for your video. This is the main image a viewer sees when watching your video.
  • Have it stand-alone without audio: Although your video will start playing automatically, viewers do have to enable sound. Make it easy for them to enjoy the content without sound by making it engaging and providing subtitles when applicable.
  • Don’t forget the call-to-action: While your audience is engaged, don’t let them scroll away without giving them more ways to connect with you and your content. You can use a call-to-action to invite viewers to visit a destination of your choice after viewing your video. You can drive referrals to your website, other videos on your Facebook page to keep them engaged, or sign up for an offer.

Reach Your Audience in Real Time with Facebook Live

On August 10th, 2016, more than 80 news organizations used Facebook Live to cover the breaking news of the climber scaling the side of New York City’s 58-story Trump Tower as 14 million unique people around the world watched the climb live on Facebook.

Let that sink in for a second.

Your audience wants to engage with you. Facebook Live allows you to create content with the push of a button, allowing your viewers to interact with you in real time. In order to make the most of your Facebook Live strategy, review and follow the best practices outlined by Facebook.

Our client Reuters has really embraced Facebook Live to create engagement with their audience, as seen in this clip following the Dallas police shooting which has received over 422,000 views.

So, how does this all help drive traffic to your site from Facebook?

As publishers, the time you spend creating content and videos to engage users in real time on Facebook will increase your News Feed visibility even more.

By pursuing engagement strategies on Facebook with video content, you can increase your audience affinity, which will lead to your link posts reaching more people in their News Feeds. This will ultimately pave the way for you to drive more referral traffic to your websites from Facebook.

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