Facebook has always been a place where people discover and share news with their friends. Media companies have long been early adopters of Facebook Platform tools, including the Like button, Facebook Login, Comments Box, and most recently, the Open Graph, to drive traffic to their sites, engage readers and attract new audiences.
With the Open Graph , publishers can build a new kind of news app that makes it easy for people to discover what their friends are reading, and look back at top articles over time. As part of these features, we've also introduced new settings so people can easily control the experience after they opt-in. Each user decides if he or she wants to install a social news app, chooses the audience of who can see their activity with it, and can make edits to their settings at anytime.
At f8, we launched the new features of the Open Graph into beta with a set of media partners including Yahoo! News, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, and The Daily. Today, The Huffington Post becomes the latest partner with the launch of its new Open Graph-enabled app on Facebook.
The early results from social news partners are encouraging, once again showing that news sites that focus on building social and personalized news experiences will see the most dramatic increases in traffic and engagement.
Engaging users on existing websites:
- Yahoo! News: Built a deep Open Graph integration into its site and more than ten million people have chosen to turn on the new social news experience to share and discover news from friends. Yahoo! News has seen a 600% increase in traffic coming from Facebook, and people who connect to Facebook on Yahoo! read more articles than the average user.
- The Independent: More than one million monthly active users are connecting their Facebook accounts to the new social news experience on independent.co.uk. The integration has bumped up older articles that have gone viral through social distribution. The organization found that many of the "most shared" and "most viewed" stories on the site have been from the late 1990s, a result of the increased social virality.
Reaching new audiences through Facebook apps:
- The Guardian: Built an app for Facebook.com and has been installed by nearly four million people, generating, on average, almost a million extra page impressions every day. Additionally, over half of the app's users are 24 and under, "traditionally a very hard-to-reach demographic for news organizations," said Andrew Miller, chief executive officer of Guardian Media Group.
- Washington Post: Built the Social Reader app for Facebook as a companion for its website and has drawn more than 3.5 million monthly active users so far. The Social Reader continues to grow, especially among international audiences and younger readers, with 83% of readers under 35 years old.
Best practices for social news apps
- Show recommendations to increase engagement. Keep people engaged by prominently showing friends' recently activity on your main pages and pages with high exit rates. When no social content is available, surface personalized recommendations based on users’ interests on Facebook and clearly explain why you're showing each recommendation.
- Create compelling objects. Maximize the click through rates of your stories by specifying Open Graph tags for all your articles and including compelling images, titles and descriptions. Avoid misleading images or titles to prevent your app from being marked as spam, which will negatively impact your app’s distribution in News Feed.
- Leverage your existing user base. If you have an existing site, be sure to make connecting a prominent option for existing users. And if people are already sharing your content on Facebook, consider sending referral traffic from Facebook into a flow that makes it easy for people to have a social experience on your site.
- Make the benefits of sharing clear. Open Graph apps are designed for people that want to share. In your app, you should clearly explain how your app works and the benefits of adding your app to their Timeline. Choose an approach that makes the most sense for your users, whether that’s an informative dialog, in-line marketing messaging, house ad inventory, and/or a learn more page.
- Keep users in control. As we’ve previously highlighted, people are more active when they are in control. In addition to the privacy controls on Facebook, we encourage you to build controls into your app that fit how people use your app.
For more information on how media companies can integrate with Facebook Platform, like the Facebook + Media Page.