Facebook Engagement Strategies for PR Professionals

Facebook blew away Wall Street analysts’ projections recently. One billion Facebook members access the social network through handheld devices; 60% of Facebook’s ad revenue in mobile related. Web search is growing four times faster on mobile devices than on desktop computers; the majority of web activity is now occurring on smartphones and tablets, not desktop PCS or laptops. Consumers are spending more time on their smartphones, tablets and wearables, three hours a day versus two hours and twenty minutes a year ago. The smartphone is the primary tool for accessing the internet, social media and e-mail.  Facebook is far and away the single most popular social media app on Smartphones.

 One out of every seven minutes spent online is being spent on Facebook. Engaged mobile consumers spend twice as much as those who engaged brands only through the traditional internet. Mobile ad spending is expected to grow 75% this year to $31.5 billion.

 23% of Facebook users check their newsfeed 5 times a day. Edgerank is Facebook’s proprietary software that determines what you see on your newsfeed every day. If you have say, 200 friends, and follow 50 different groups, companies, celebrities, TV shows, etc., have you ever noticed you only have 20 or so updates from all of that, when theoretically every one of those has posted something? Edgerank has already sorted through all of that for you to determine which content is “stickiness” and most likely for you to re-post and share based on a complicated algorithm. To simplify this a bit, Edgerank appears to like multimedia, videos, photos (there are 350 million photos being uploaded daily).

 While many clients’ eyes cloud over when you start talking about Facebook, another way to approach this is to talk about “real time” engagement. It’s a whole new mindset. Would you like instant engagement with the public? That’s really what Facebook is offering.

Facebook recently announced the launch of Facebook Newswire, and before that puts any kind of scare in some of the traditional public relations Newswire services, it’s important to understand that the model is more like the Associated Press for social media, than a paid distribution platform like Business Wire. Powered by the Dublin-based Storyful, Facebook Newswire scans the hottest stories in social media and re-posts them in its feed, so FB Newswire doesn’t make a story “hot”, it takes existing user-generated content and makes it “hotter.” The story, then, has to stand on its own merits or its general shareability or “stickiness” in social media terms. I recently had the chance to meet Mark Little, the founder and CEO, of Storyful and he was quick to admit the complete business model for Facebook Newswire is still evolving.

 In a media environment where being first by seconds can mean success or failure, Storyful has emerged as the leading Internet news service by developing  a process it calls the “human algorithm”—a process by which it verifies news that is transmitted over social media or posted online by people who are not journalists. User-generated content is shifting the whole paradigm of how news is gathered, reported and consumed.

That said, Storyful content is being used every day by the BBC, The New York Times, AP, CBS, ABC and The Wall Street Journal and is changing the way millions of people see the world’s unfolding current events. Storyful and perhaps “Facebook Newswire” could become “the news agency for the social media age.”

Mark Little, founder and CEO of Storyful, was interviewed at the recent PRSA Health Academy meeting—stay tuned for that interview coming soon.