I’ve never been one to be overly concerned with Facebook’s power in (and over) the media space on mobile. Mostly this is because I see the proliferation of smaller apps and other social tools as an aggregated counterbalance to Facebook (also, AOL and MySpace).
But after reviewing some statistics over the past year, I’m re-evaluating my views on the hype/reality of Facebooks’ impact – at least in the mid-term. Consider these points:
- Smartphone penetration in the United States will grow from 65% to more than 80% by the end of 2015 (comScore).
- Smartphone users spend more than 2.3 hours per day on their devices, up 575% from 2010 (Flurry).
- 80% of user time on the device is within native apps. People spend only 20% of the time in a browser (Flurry).
- 42% of time spent in native apps occurs in the user’s single most-used app. In fact, most smartphone owners don’t download a single app in any given month (comScore).
- The Facebook app has a 77% reach on mobile devices, and with 115 million unique visitors over 18 in June 2014, was the most used app. The only “news” apps in the top 25 were Yahoo Weather and The Weather Channel (comScore).
- 88% of millennials get news from Facebook regularly (American Press Institute).
In short, the number of people with smartphones is still rapidly growing, as is the amount of time they spend on them. However, users are spending more time only on a few apps, and their most used app is likely Facebook.
So, the smartphone users’ most immediate encounters with media posts are also likely to be in Facebook.
This strongly suggests that a serious content strategy for Facebook should also consider brand pushes for your apps and services.
The problem, obviously, is getting your content into readers’ feeds and staying seen. That requires content readers will interact with and share. Facebook recently announced some tweaks to its news feed algorithm that impacts how things get seen, and, according to Facebook, better balance content from friends and pages.
Apryl Pilolli, social analytics lead at Cox Media Group, provides some context: One of the changes “will reduce the viral reach of posts (reach that is a result of someone seeing your content because a friend engaged with it), so if a brand does not have strong organic reach [many people liking the brand page, sharing a brand’s posts, and interacting with that brand’s content], the page may see a decline in engagement and referral traffic. This update makes brand advocates and personal shares more important than ever.”
Effectively, brands are more likely to appear in the feeds of readers who’ve liked their pages if those readers actually read and engage with the posts. And the feeds of their friends will more likely display the brand’s posts if they are shared directly (instead of just being read, liked, or commented on).
According to Andy Mitchell, Facebook’s director of news and media partnerships, on average, 20% of referral traffic to news publishers is via Facebook. When news publishers optimise their content for social-first consumption, they can see referrals from Facebook make up 50% or more of their traffic.
Beyond the above, I won’t go in to the content strategies to help you decide what and when to post that will optimise your chances of being seen and getting interaction. That’s better left to the social experts. I will suggest that you should consider a few things as part of your Facebook strategy in order to help your readers find your apps.
- Facebook advertising of your apps and services. (Facebook offers the ability to track download links for your native apps.)
- If your app’s shared content is branded – and a good experience – share from the app.
- Make sure your mobile Web experience is good. A good proportion of traffic referred from Facebook will be mobile. (And Google is already judging you.)
- Make sure your apps are advertised and easy to find via your mobile site.
Getting the mobile user to download your app in the first place is largely a measure of them knowing it’s there. Thanks to the app stores, your initial loyal audience is likely to self-select in by searching for it. Rarely, though, is that a sufficiently large enough group, so ensuring a consistent and constant message reaches the others is important.
As you consider how to leverage Facebook to get your content in front of readers, make sure you consider how to make them aware of your apps and services, too.