When it comes to social media, businesses and individuals alike all want one thing…shareability. In other words, they want people to engage with their content and then share it with their network of friends.
The following data compiled by News Whip in January 2015 shows which brands made up the most shared sites on Facebook at the time and which made up the most tweeted sites on Twitter. After analyzing these brands, here’s my take on what accounted for their success.
Reasons for Success on Facebook
BuzzFeed and newcomer PlayBuzz both do a great job of engaging their audience, Millennials, through humor. Their posts contain really outrageous images and text that makes you want to keep reading and share it with your friends on social media. What I noticed about their Facebook posts is that they all link back to the company’s site. While doing this too often could alienate people who might not want to leave Facebook to read what you have to say, it seems to work well for both of these brands. The reason PlayBuzz seems to trump BuzzFeed when it comes to social shareability is because their readers need to complete a quiz to get a personalized result. Without completing this step, they cannot fully engage with any of these Facebook posts. Among the differences I noticed between the two brands were that BuzzFeed features a little more variety in the content that it posts. While PlayBuzz only posts quizzes, BuzzFeed posts a mixture of quizzes, lists, heartfelt stories, pop culture stories and current events. Additionally, BuzzFeed houses most of its video posts on Facebook and on its website. According to this socialbakers article, Facebook video has overtaken YouTube video in terms of overall views and user interactions. Therefore, more and more marketers are turning to Facebook to showcase their videos.
While The Huffington Post is also geared towards a younger demographic, its Facebook posts feature a more mature tone than do BuzzFeed and Playbuzz’s. The site uses Facebook to post about a variety of topics, including politics, entertainment, environment, technology, comedy and local news. The Huffington Post also makes sure that all of its posts link back to their site so that people who want to read more will be forced to continue reading the article on their site.
News stations are also seeing an increase in engagement on Facebook. Industry leaders suspect that there are two reasons for this. First, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm update, which suggests content based on click-through rate, has cut out a lot of spammy content and images, thereby bringing Facebook posts from reliable news stations to the forefront. Secondly, news stations are becoming more savvy about how to use Facebook to present their content in the best way possible. The BBC, for instance, posts user-generated footage of breaking news events. Fox News, posts a variety of interesting/breaking-news-type posts every hour on the hour, so you can’t deny the network’s social-media-centered focus.
The thing with news stations is that they have so much more material to cover on social media than brands that have a more narrow or specific focus. They also appeal to a wide range of people. For these reasons, I think news stations will continue to remain top sharing sites when it comes to Facebook.
Reasons for Success on Twitter
There’s a reason the BBC is at the No. 1 spot on this list. The news platform prides itself on posting a variety of posts, from videos to still images to infographics to vines. Its headlines sound like they were written by journalists, which as we learned this week, is, oftentimes the way to go. The BBC makes excellent use of its 140 character count, utilizing unique hashtags when appropriate. Even before it began incorporating social media into its overall marketing strategy, the BBC already had a fair track record of inviting the audience to get involved in its journalism through web forums, debates, blogs and article comments.
Coming in in the No. 2 spot is The New York Times, a publication that prides itself on breaking news coverage. The publication knows when to use images in its posts and when not to, and it’s been able to save on character count by including by relying on watermarks to credit the images’ photographers. I think what makes The New York Times stand out from the crowd are its feature-length, in-depth pieces on particular people. They’re both captivating and exclusive, making them a huge draw for their online audience.
Taking the No. 3 spot is Mashable, a site that’s always on top of the latest Internet and social media sensations. Mashable is timely, contains easy-to-read-content and posts tweets that feature well photographed images, such as this one below. It knows who its audience is, what they want to see and how to best reach them. While they pride themselves on writing entertaining content, they know how to differentiate themselves from other more playful Millennial-centered sites like BuzzFeed and PlayBuzz.
Many people might be surprised by the fact that BuzzFeed, whose Facebook posts tends to go viral, is clearly missing from the most tweeted sites list. But when you stop to think about the reason behind this, it makes more sense. BuzzFeed is a very visual brand. While Twitter allows for images, it doesn’t place as high of a focus on them as Facebook does. Perhaps BuzzFeed could find other ways to engage users on this platform by coming up with really creative hashtags.
Today’s social media market leaders are doing a few things that I can take with me moving forward both in this course and in my marketing career.
1. Include eye-catching images and videos when appropriate. Knowing when an image is unnecessary and knowing when it will drive engagement are key.
2. Try to be as concise yet creative with your tweets as possible. Just because Twitter allows you 140 characters doesn’t mean you need to use them all for every tweet. Allow your followers room to retweet and reply to your content.
3. Know your audience. Know who they are, when they’re online, what they want to read or see and how they want it delivered to them.
4. Include a link back to your site when appropriate. Find a balance between doing it for every post and never doing it at all. Ultimately, you want to drive traffic to your site so that people can read more about you and your organization but you don’t want it to come across like a sales pitch.
5. And finally, be timely with your social content to increase your chances of social shareability.