The news industry isn’t dead. People are just getting their news from different sources and in different ways. Understanding how they are getting news now can help you understand how to promote your own brand.
Newswhip recently put together a report that can shine some light into how brands are successfully sharing news. The report reveals the most shared English-speaking news brands on Facebook in December, as well as what some of their most popular stories were. The data is a treasure trove for marketers looking for new ways to connect with their audience.
Here’s what the data tells us:
Top News Sites on Facebook
According to Newswhip’s analysis, The Huffington Post was the most shared news site on Facebook in December, followed by BuzzFeed.
That may not be much of a surprise to anyone who spends any time on Facebook since stories from these sites fill the newsfeeds of most users.
Newswhip’s report shows that The Huffington Post got 5.5 million shares in December, while BuzzFeed got 4.7 million shares.
What was more surprising to many who viewed the report was just how many hard news sites made it into the top 10. NBC came in third with 3.6 million shares; Fox News was fourth with 3.4 million shares; and The New York Times came in fifth with 3.2 million shares.
Rounding out the top 10, in order, were The Guardian, Breitbart, BBC, The Washington Post, and The Daily Mail.
Most Popular Stories
It may come as no surprise that some of the most popular stories shared by BuzzFeed included things like “Which ‘The Force Awakens’ Character Are You?” and “29 Songs Every Former Emo Kid Hasn’t Thought About Since 2007.”
Those are the kinds of stories on which BuzzFeed has built its brand and which other sites have feverishly tried to copy in hopes of getting the same viral traffic.
However, what may be surprising is that the most popular stories shared by the other top news sites on Facebook were about things like politics, gun control, environmental issues, and the refugee crisis.
The popularity of these stories was measured not just in shared, but also in engagements like comments and “likes.”
That data tells us that users are tired of quizzes and cat memes and they want more substantive information. They want real, meaty content about real issues that affect their lives. They don’t just want to be entertained, which has been the prevailing perception of social media and online interactions.
What Your Brand Can Learn
Social media marketing has always been a great way to drive traffic, and this most recent data shows that brands may need to change their approach.
In the past, it was believed that viral traffic came from short, funny posts like vines of people getting knocked off a table while trying to do a funny dance while lip syncing or short listsicles with attention-grabbing headlines.
While these posts still do grab attention, the attention is short-lived. Many social media users are also getting tired of seeing these posts, recognizing them for the low-quality click bait that they are.
Perhaps the biggest thing that brands can learn from this new report is that they must create high-quality content about topics that readers care about if they are to be successful.
There has been a move away from short blog posts of 300 to 500 words toward lengthier and more in-depth posts of 1,000 words or more.
It’s not just the quantity that matters with these posts though; it’s also the quality. The longer length just usually gives authors the space to explore ideas more fully. If you are filling a longer post with fluff, it is still fluff, and it will still fail.
The other key take away from this data is that timeliness counts. Brands need to be a part of conversations as they are happening.
If your brand is not in the business of creating news — for example, you may not be sending writers out on the presidential campaign trail — then you can take advantage of the trend of newsjacking.
Instead of creating the news, you present it alongside your opinion of it. Therefore, you would not write a story about Donald Trump’s latest poll numbers or how Hillary Clinton fared in the debate against Bernie Sanders. Instead, you would write about your opinion of these topics or how they affect your readers.
For example, if you are a financial advisor, you could talk about how Clinton’s economic policies would affect clients.
It is essential that you talk about the topics that are trending and that you show how they are relevant to your brand and your audience.
Make these changes to your social media marketing strategy in 2016 and you could start getting some of the same viral traffic that these top news sites have been getting.