By Meghan Peters, Strategic Partnerships, News
Since the launch of Facebook Publisher Tools, media organizations have seized the opportunity to test new Page posting strategies and build their audiences on Facebook.
U.S. News & World Report has seen great success with these tools. In January, its education content team used Interest Targeting to resurface the publisher’s well-known Best Colleges rankings to relevant Facebook fans.
Social Media Editor Lauren Boyer called out the top five schools on each ranking list when sharing the link on the Page. She then used Interest Targeting to hone in on Page fans interested in these five schools.
A Page post about the Best Public Universities list was one of the most successful, seeing nearly 80 times the engagement of an average U.S. News post.
“For all publishers you want to get in front of the audience where your content really resonates… [Interest Targeting] has been a really good tool for that,” says Stephanie Salmon, VP of data and information strategy at U.S. News. “The concept that you target something to a few hundred or a few thousand people, and then it gets shared with magnitudes more than that, really speaks to the value of audience development.”
The 2015 Best Colleges rankings were first published September 9, 2014 — before Interest Targeting was available — and broke U.S. News’ Facebook referral traffic records at the time. But much of that traffic was coming from non-U.S. News Facebook Pages, such as university Pages sharing the links as a badge of honor.
When Boyer resurfaced the rankings from January 5-11, all traffic to the rankings came from U.S. News Pages, resulting in a 412% week-over-week increase in traffic to the education vertical.
“This is the most engaging content we have — it should be interesting to people beyond the week it publishes,” Boyer says.
What’s more is that Interest Targeting unlocked sharing for lesser-known lists. For example, the Most Students in Fraternities rankings normally wouldn’t be shared to the U.S. News Facebook Page, Boyer says.
Beyond contributing to traffic and engagement for U.S. News, the fraternities post also taught a few readers something new about their alma maters: “People in the comments were saying they didn’t know their school was best for fraternities,” Boyer says, adding that overall, posts using Interest Targeting had more constructive comments.
During the week the rankings were reshared, the U.S. News Page nearly doubled its amount of new fans week-over-week. Now the publication plans to apply the Interest Targeting strategy to its upcoming rankings of Best Graduate Schools, Best Hospitals and others.
“I can’t emphasize enough what a great audience development tool Facebook has created with interest-based and other targeting,” Boyer says. “It has opened up all kinds of opportunities for us to reach the right audience with the right content – content that would otherwise meet deaf ears when posted to a general audience.”