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Extra! Extra! U.K. Newspaper ‘Metro’ Sees Fourfold Increase in Traffic From Facebook


What has the third-largest newspaper in the U.K. and the largest free newspaper in the world done to result in a fourfold increase in traffic coming from Facebook? Metro shared its Facebook strategies with the social network for a case study on its developers page.

In addition to the increased traffic from Facebook, Metro said it has seen a 37 percent leap in shared content on the social network, as well as a fivefold increase in mobile visits from Facebook. In addition, the newspaper’s page posts in April were up 50 percent compared with March, while traffic from Facebook rose 48 percent over the same time period, and likes jumped 64 percent.

Metro shared the following key pillars of its Facebook strategy with the social network:

  • Post content that includes media and detailed analysis: The newspaper said the “clear purpose” of its page is to offer easy access to six to 10 “must-see” stories, videos, and photos, adding that its social media team includes links back to the Metro website, along with teaser content and commentary, to drive click-throughs and promote discussion.

  • Use a conversational tone; find the right posting cadence and test: Metro said its morning posts are tied to the big news of the day, while it tends to favor lighter fare around lunchtime. The newspaper also found that longer features and stories about sports and entertainment are more successful on evenings and weekends. Obviously, this strategy is subject to the whims of breaking news.
  • Add share, like, and comments plugins to your website to drive social referrals: Metro said each article on its website has share buttons at the top and bottom, and users are prompted to comment on stories before sharing them, with those comments aimed at improving its stories’ performances on Facebook’s News Feed algorithm.
  • Optimize headlines for sharing on Facebook: Metro’s content-management system enables its writers to add three headlines — a “socially optimized” headline for Facebook, a short and searchable headline for article previews on the homepage, and a longer searchable one for the full article page. Metro said it has found that questions, puns, and irreverence work well.

  • Provide a consistent experience across devices: Metro said its site redesign was prompted by its discovery that users viewing its tablet edition spent more time on the site and viewed more pages.

Metro summed up its findings by saying:

People dip in and out of news sites throughout the day. In an industry where every comment, click-through, and share is a win, every headline, story, and experience matters.

And the newspaper’s social and community manager, Richard Moynihan, added:

Every day, we look for the stories people are talking about on Facebook and ways to amplify them. These data inform our editorial decisions on what to publish and, as such, visits from Facebook to our website are up 300 percent.

Readers: Did you learn anything from the tips offered by Metro?

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