How to survive Facebook’s change of heart

Behind Local News
May 27, 2018 · 3 min read

Facebook’s new approach to news was a shock to the industry in January. But for many local newsrooms, the changes haven’t resulted in the collapse in audience other parts of the industry have seen. Jenni Phillips, social media editor at Gloucestershire Live, offered tips on how they’re managing Facebook during the social media session of the Behind Local News conference:

Jenni Phillips (left) takes questions from Corinne Podger
  1. Feedback to reporters

I always try to feedback to the reporters about what is an isn’t working on Facebook. We get a lot of reporters who are really hung up about their page views, which are obviously important, but actually if we get a post on Facebook that has good interaction, the page views will follow.

2. Study interaction rates

We measure comments and shares together we work out an interaction rate on social media posts based on that.

If articles are getting good interaction rates and it’s lifting interaction rates, it’s helping the brand reach people, and helping our content overall.

Without engagement, readers aren’t going to be clicking through, they’re not going to they’re not connecting with our brand, and we need to be able to do that with them.

3. Know your audience

In the other half of my role I’m a Whats on editor and by studying what readers want at different times, we know that a gin festival in Cheltenham will do better at a certain time than a court story because that’s what our largely female audience are interested in at that time.

We only post on page what we know will work. We take a couple of risks with some stories, but learn quickly.

4. Post content which doesn’t instantly link back (native posts)

I spent five or six years out journalism working in a purely digital role for a charity and we focused on audience and that’s when I came back into the industry.

We do regular native posts, which aren’t about clicks, but connecting with people. Yesterday evening we posted a video of baby lemurs wildlife park.

We’ll post things like polls on what’s the most annoying roundabout in Gloucester. Things like that that get people engaged but in a different way and they often provide content too.

5. Listen to readers

We listen to our audience so if they say can you please stop doing stories about McDonald’s we’ll leave off a little bit even though we know that they inevitably will all click on a story about McDonalds running out of McFlurries.

If we make a mistake we hold our hands up. People will say ‘Oh you’ve got the street wrong in there.’ We’ll say: “Yes, sorry. A to Z for the reporter.”

6. Treat your Facebook page like its own brand

I’m always dipping into comments, replying to them and trying to be part of their conversation. It makes the the page almost exist as a separate title as the GloucestershireLive Facebook page. It has its own audience and sometimes its own stance on things too and that seems to work for us.

Behind Local News UK

The stories behind the stories, from the regional press in the UK

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Behind Local News UK

The stories behind the stories, from the regional press in the UK

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