It’s no secret: Meta is deprioritizing news on Facebook. Even the surface formerly known as “News Feed” is now just called “Feeds.” And yes, traffic from there to news websites is likely to continue its downward trend.
But there are brighter days ahead… publishers have many, MANY other avenues to bring in traffic from social media to their websites. We’ll explore them in a Social News Desk blog series this Fall, so stay tuned.
Traffic Driver #1: Facebook Messenger
Social News Desk’s Messenger Experience can help deliver news directly to your followers’ Facebook Messenger inbox, bypassing the Facebook Feed entirely. The best part? Once you set it up, you don’t have to do anything else to start delivering daily digests (unless you want to)!
The beauty of SND’s Messenger bot is that you can literally set it and forget it!Mykal Vincent, Digital News Supervisor, WVUE-TV
We’re seeing great clickthrough rates for Messenger digests – anywhere from 3-7% for most pages. This feature is also only available to news publishers who are registered with Facebook’s News Page Index. That’s great news for journalists – it means less competition in the Messenger Inbox. And since Facebook Messenger works across all platforms, you’re automatically reaching your followers where they already are.
Setting up the Messenger experience takes only a few minutes. Mykal Vincent from WVUE-TV has been using Messenger for years, and loves how easy it is to use on a day-to-day basis: “The beauty of SND’s Messenger bot is that you can literally set it and forget it!”
Choose Your Topics
Many newsrooms prefer a straightforward approach to setting up topics for Messenger digests. Vincent says, “We kept the user’s options simple from the get-go; Top Stories, Weather, Sports, and Weekend, and haven’t touched it since.”
You may also want to look at Post Manager, and check out what people are already clicking on – sort by Link Clicks to identify your best content. Scan the content and note what topics tend to perform best. It can vary by page audience, but we often see high-performing stories are about breaking news, weather, local food and drink, things to do, and sports. By paying attention to the content that’s getting people to take action, you’re more likely to deliver a useful digest.
Build Your Topics
Facebook will display content digests in groups of three when users are presented with the choices on a mobile device, so consider stacking your topics accordingly. The first topic you create will appear first, and so on, so keep that in mind as you’re building your Messenger topics.
There are two ways to gather content to populate the digests: by using an RSS feed, or using tagged posts in SND. You can even combine the two if you’d like content from both sources! Using tagged posts can be a great way to keep the content a little more curated, but it depends upon setting a metatag when the post is created (or adding it later in Post Manager). For the simplest setup, an RSS feed works well. SND will automatically pull the 3 most recent posts for the daily digest at the time it’s sent out.
Optional: Curate Content
As we’ve mentioned, you can use tagged posts to populate content in a daily digest. But if you’d rather just use content from an RSS feed, you can still choose content to add to Highlights. As long as you make the choices before the digest is sent out, you’ll be able to build a custom mini-newsletter for your followers. It’s a great way to add value as a source of information.
Manually curating content also allows you to recycle content that is still relevant. SND automatically only uses content that has not been sent before, but if you have evergreen content that’s still generating traffic, you can use Highlights to share it with your subscribers again.
Build Your Messenger Contacts
You wouldn’t start a newsletter without encouraging people to subscribe, and you wouldn’t launch a newscast without telling people when to watch! It’s the same for Messenger – you’ve got to build your audience of Messenger Contacts in order to start sending.
Luckily, it’s easy to start gathering sign-ups by turning on the Messenger Replies feature in Social News Desk. Anyone who leaves a comment on one of your posts will receive a Messenger invitation to subscribe to a topic digest. This is the fastest way to grow an audience of subscribers! If there’s content that you don’t want to use for Messenger Replies, you can opt-out of using the feature for that post. Anyone who organically sends a message to your page will also receive an invitation to subscribe if they haven’t already.
Vincent attributes their success with Messenger to using Messenger Replies. “The consistency of the bot reaching out to people who leave comments provides a steady flow of new subscribers and subsequent clickthroughs. It’s great to be on the forefront of news delivery through social media DMs in a way that the user has some control over.”
Promoting your Messenger Experience is also important. Get the word out with your m.me link, Facebook’s shortlink directly to a conversation with your page. The URL is almost the same as your Facebook page, with m.me in place of facebook.com.
Check On Your Progress
SND offers a clickthrough report to identify how well your content is doing on Messenger. While the audience will initially be much smaller than that of your Facebook Page’s followers, your Messenger Contacts can subscribe to multiple topics. That means you have even more opportunities to land in their inbox! The clickthrough report can also help you further hone the types of stories that are working well, so you can devote your digest content to maximize the chances of followers clicking on the story.
In the Stats tab, you can monitor the number of subscribers and subscriptions (since subscribers can get more than one digest), how your audience is growing and changing over time, and the number of new conversations initiated. You’ll also see how many blocked and reported conversations there are, if any – a good thing to keep an eye on to make sure you’re sending valuable content to your Messenger Contacts.