Everybody knows Facebook is popular. Actually it’s more of a global phenomenon really, with over 500 million subscribers.
What’s people probably aren’t aware of is just how dominant this social media platform is in the UK. Well, let’s put some meat on the bare bones. Half the UK’s population, near enough, has a Facebook account: that’s over 30 million people, and moreover, it’s increased by a further 4 million users in the last 8 months according to Facebook European Vice Chairman, Joanna Shields. It’s no wonder that Facebook is the dominant force when it comes to social network referrals.
It comes as no surprise then to find that Facebook is now revamping the ‘like’ functionality status on its platform. The news of this revamp comes on the back of changes already made earlier last year when this facility was made available to third party websites. The plan worked a treat, with many blogs, media and ecommerce websites signing up. There were some notable success stories.
Since the Independent newspaper added the social sharing buttons on its website, its overall traffic has increased dramatically with 32,000 people signing up for the service: traffic to and from the site grew by over 600% for Facebook and 250% for Twitter in just 1 year. On the face of it that does sound impressive, but it doesn’t really paint the whole picture. The reason why the numbers grew so rapidly was the way the newspaper used the ‘like; buttons and how it applied them.
Rather than simply asking readers to click a button that confirms you ‘like’ the newspaper, as you are I might do for a friends’ post, the Indie asked its readers to click on particular articles by individual correspondents, like Robert Fisk or their favourite sporting clubs. The payback was that readers would then see relevant news stories and content popping up on their newsfeeds without having to go and search for them.
So from now on the new Facebook ‘like’ button won’t simply be creating a minor notification on your newsfeed, but a dedicated, personalised and complete summary of any relevant story that is of interest to you.
The Independent’s experience has shown just how successful the implementation of social sharing can be, and demonstrated that it has the potential to be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for attracting new traffic and spreading content. No doubt many others will have watched this success story from afar and now be considering jumping on board. The only proviso I would add is whatever you want to share with others has to be worth sharing in the first place. Content is still king, despite the technological advances.