Facebook Teaches Journalists How to Be Popular

Facebook, the virtual friend-making machine invented by a socially handicapped Harvard computer whiz*, has published a note teaching journalists how increase their followings.

It is not a primer on the acquisition of friends. In September, Facebook introduced “Subscribe,” an option which allows other users to receive only your public updates. You can encourage subscribers to hang on your every word without having to let them into your photo albums, contact information, etc. It’s just one of many new Internet-based relationship categories (Gchat sources, Twitter crushes) for which journalists (an historically unpopular race) should be grateful.

Do you think these people would read  your stories if you were out hawking papers on the corner? Do you think they would talk to you if they knew you came to work dressed like that? Acquiring many Facebook subscribers is the ideal way to get your stories out to the kind of people who don’t read newspapers and fashion yourself as a pseudocelebrity in their eyes.

So, for the newsroom troglodytes, a few tips and tricks for making your posts the most seductive to new subscribers, courtesy Facebook:

  • Be relevant. “Commentary and analysis on current events and breaking news receives 3x as many likes and 2x as many shares as the average post.”
  • Acknowledge the existence of others. “Reader shout-outs can increase in feedback by as much as 4x. Also, asking for recommendations can lead to a 3x increase in comments above an average post.”
  • Be smart. “In-depth analyses on global issues can yield a 1.5x increase in likes and 2.5x increase in shares.”
  • Be something to look at. “Powerful photos can yield an increase of a 2x inengagement (likes, comments and shares). Also, behind-the-scenes photos resulted in up to a 4x increase in engagement (likes, comments, shares).”
  • Be funny. “Jokes in posts or a humorous picture can yield a 1.5x increase in likes and almost 5x increase in shares. Humor often shows the lighter and more personal side of the journalist, which is likely why it results in higher engagement.

Not so different from making friends and influencing people IRL, huh? Except when you do it on Facebook, the company is gathering everything you and your readers say, running it through sentiment analysis, and selling the data to your competitors at Politico. Keep up the good work!

*Disclaimer: We only watched the trailer of the Social Network.



  Facebook Teaches Journalists How to Be Popular