Should newsrooms create WhatsApp 'activation' groups? - Reuters News Agency

Should newsrooms create WhatsApp ‘activation’ groups?

By Paul Armstrong | Feb 15, 2018

One thing is clear after Facebook’s publisher-only webinar – sharing, not liking, is the new black. Engagement and recency were always top of Facebook’s levers to pull but now it’s all about “meaningful interactions”.

What are meaningful interactions?

High-intent driven actions, by the looks of things:

  • Link sharing from Messenger
  • Sharing a piece of content from one place to another – original sharing will be prioritized
  • Commenting on or liking a person’s photo or status updates
  • Rivers of replies to a status update or photo = more likely to see again

It’s the second element I have been thinking about for a while…if Facebook isn’t going to give newsrooms special treatment how can they improve the hand they are being dealt without spending on ads and boosting posts?

Use WhatsApp groups

One option could be to use WhatsApp groups to give articles a bump when they launch or just after.

Different groups (max 256 in one group) could be used to stagger these article share boosts. Likes are no longer what Facebook uses to determine newsfeed juice, it’s shares. Original shares at that. Start building groups who like you and don’t like you (‘you’ being ‘your Page’). It might be more affordable than ads for some outlets.

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If Facebook isn’t going to give newsrooms special treatment how can they improve the hand they are being dealt without spending on ads and boosting posts?”

Let the journalists snag more of the limelight

Another option is to let the journalists snag more of the limelight to help move traffic to your site. The ‘Follow’ button will now have more priority than pages so get the readers to follow your people.

Depending on where you are in the world (and corporate culture) this will be easy for some and will have to be mandated for others.

Of course, it’s the personal profile of the journalist so asking and not telling is essential. You may want to ask your staff to spend a bit more time in the comments on Facebook since this is where the algorithm will also be looking for signals.

You may also want to focus on bread-crumbing updates in comments and paying attentio to stories that can (or will) demand an update. This is more likely to retain loyal eyes in addition to getting fresh ones.

This is until Facebook changes something else. Something Facebook a) have promised to do and b) will be keeping an eye on as regulators begin to circle the now +2.4bn user misery factory behemoth. Sorry…their words not mine.

Another option is to let the journalists snag more of the limelight to help move traffic to your site. The ‘Follow’ button will now have more priority than pages, so get the readers to follow your people.”

Additional tips for publishers:

  • Focus on content that other people will share
    Sad to say this will be the usual psychological triggers; fear, sadness, happiness etc
  • Use paid media to create spikes on relevant content
    Always-on is now unlikely to yield the same results
  • Start thinking about local products
    – Facebook is. ‘Today In’ is being tested in six local markets – keep an eye on this it could be another thing that eats your lunch.
  • Start pushing the ‘Follow’ function for Pages
    Many are already, but consider this also for journalists –– a lot leave this to personal preference, Facebook will consider individuals more than a page.
  • Stop tagging
    It’s not taken into consideration for post ranking and is not judged by Facebook as a meaningful interaction.
  • Groups
    Play this card carefully. Groups do not impact your Page/post ranking but they could overtake your page if they have high levels of interaction. Groups can still push links around so it’s more how you use them than how much.

 

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I write for Forbes and other places.

‘Disruptive Technologies’ is now available from Amazon (and will be available in Korean, Russian and Chinese in 2018)…

This article does not express the views of Reuters. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author.