Study: How people engage with journalists on Facebook

When it comes to starting a conversation with readers, journalists’ posts on Facebook pages that include a question or “call to action” get the most feedback, a study conducted by the social network has found.

Posts in which a journalist gives an analysis and shares personal reflections have 20 percent more referral clicks than average posts; photos receive 50 percent more likes than non-photo posts; and links that include thumbnail images in the preview receive 65 percent more likes and 50 percent more comments than posts without images, the study, “How People Are Engaging Journalists on Facebook & Best Practices,” out today, concluded.

Posts that ask questions accounted for 10 percent of the posts sampled on Jouranlist Pages, but these posts received two times the amount of comments and 64 percent more feedback overall, the study explained. When a post asked readers to read or take a closer look, they received 37 percent more feedback. Personal reflections or posts giving readers a “behind-the-scenes” look received 25 percent more engagement, and posts that had “catch/clever language or tone” had 18 percent more.

“The ability to include a [longer] description of what’s behind a link is one of the fundamental differences between Facebook and Twitter. While journalists and other content publishers may not prefer spending the extra time crafting Facebook posts, the benefits in traffic driven that this study shows should convince them the effort is worth it,” Inside Facebook pointed out.

“Pages that automatically cross-post Twitter updates or that auto-post when an article is published to their website should consider switching to manual publishing. Having a human writing copy specifically to accompany a Facebook post makes the news feed story seem more organic and personal, and therefore more compelling and clickable.”

Story type also matters, with international news receiving 70 percent more referral clicks than the average posts. Political stories get 60 percent more referral clicks.

To maximise engagement, it’s also important to post throughout the day, everyday.

Readers are active on Facebook all day, and spikes in feedback levels happen between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., with a 30 percent to 40 percent increase; late in the morning, up 40 percent at around 10 a.m.; and later in the workday, up between 40 percent and 100 percent between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Feedback at night also spiked, up 30 percent at midnight and 20 percent at 2 a.m.

Journalists also receive more feedback later in the week, especially on Thursday through Sunday. On Sunday, posts get 25 percent more likes and 8 percent more comments. On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, referral clicks tend to be above average, and links get 85 percent more clicks on Saturday and 37 percent more on Wednesday.

Image: A Facebook post today from journalist Fareed Zakaria

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