"USA TODAY has always been about conversations, and Facebook has become a key platform for us to engage directly with our readers. And with new content strategies and strategic use of paid tools, our Facebook engagement continues to be among the most engaging news sites." — Sandra Micek, SVP Marketing at USA TODAY

USA TODAY, which began as the first truly national newspaper in the United States, currently delivers its trademark high-quality journalism and bold, colorful visuals across a variety of platforms, including mobile, desktop, and print.

With more than 1 million fans on Facebook, USA TODAY uses a combination of organic and paid posts to increase reader engagement and reach its audiences at scale. By identifying strong-performing content and pushing it out to more people on Facebook, USA TODAY grew referrals from Facebook to USATODAY.com more than 300 percent over the past year. Here are a few methods that USA TODAY uses to reach and increase its audience:

Create content specifically for Facebook fans

USA TODAY creates content specifically for its Facebook fans to drive engagement. For example, for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, page editors put up a post asking fans to finish the sentence “I have a dream. …” Then editors crafted real-time photo replies incorporating the fan’s image and comment, along with USA TODAY branding. This campaign was liked by more than 1,700 people and received more than 2,000 comments in a matter of hours.

Focus on engagement

While growing its fan base aggressively to more than 1 million, USA TODAY has maintained a category-leading engagement rate by focusing on regular community management and acquiring high-quality fans. Reader questions and comments are responded to in real-time on almost every Facebook post.

Identifying social moments

USA TODAY regularly prepares content for anticipated social moments. On Election Day, USA TODAY’s page editors created an “I Voted!” image as a virtual sticker, which was shared nearly 24,000 times on Facebook. USA TODAY also prepared two birth announcements for Great Britain’s royal baby — one for a boy and one for a girl — posting the “It’s a Boy!” image as soon as the news came down. That image was liked by more than 22,000 people on Facebook and received paid support.

USA TODAY also regularly updates its cover photo to reflect real-time conversations and events happening around the world. Additionally, it now optimizes its infographics and other images for use on social media platforms.

Boost engagement using Facebook advertising tools

Using Facebook’s Page Insights, USA TODAY identifies high-performing page posts, chooses the best ones, and promotes them to a larger audience using the technology of BLiNQ Media. Very often these are photo posts, and status updates that link back to USATODAY.com. USA TODAY’s promoted content reached 2.7 times more people than organic-only content, driving additional traffic to the news site. During this audience-building campaign, page posts were able to reach 99% of USA TODAY’s fan base through organic and paid activity.

Results

  • Referrals from Facebook back to USATODAY.com grew more than 300 percent from September 2012 to September 2013
  • Grew fan count on USA TODAY’s main Facebook page fivefold since September 2012
  • Organic page views grew at least threefold
  • Page views generated by Facebook referrals increased 99% in the last year
  • Overall engagement on the main Facebook page has increased 524% year over year