This chart shows why publishers are right to be scared of Facebook

Not dead yet then, Facebook

[Image courtesy of Shareaholic]


It’s no secret that Facebook’s referral traffic to websites is huge. What’s more surprising, perhaps, is just how rapidly the company got to that point.

In the last year, Facebook’s sharing power has more than doubled, according to a recent report. In September 2013, Facebook drove 10.37 percent of websites’ overall traffic, based on a survey of 300,000 websites across a range of sizes and categories (fashion, sports, religion, news, the list goes on). In just the past twelve months, that number increased to 22.36 percent, making Facebook the undisputed social referral king. In comparison, the next biggest social referrer, Pinterest, drives only 5.52 percent of overall traffic. Twitter, the third largest social referrer, is a pittance at 0.88 percent.

These numbers were published the same day as a widely shared New York Times article about Facebook’s power over publishers. With Facebook’s rapid traffic referral ascendence in the past year, Google…

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Facebook against Click Bait (finally)

Amazing news from Facebook HQ today – they’re taking action against those click-baity Facebook posts with their ‘you won’t believe what happened next’ style copy that nobody seems to like, and yet (currently) everyone seems to ‘like’.

They’re also giving more engagement to posts that share links, as opposed to featuring them alongside images.

Read the full post on Facebook’s blog.

These are both very welcome changes, as for page owners this means a couple of things:

    1. The CONTENT you share is now even more important than the way you craft your posts (though of course the way you craft them will always be important!)

      It’s always frustrated me that the BuzzFeed/Upworthy-style posts of afore-mentioned sites and their imitators – usually with their Random Capitalisation Of Every Word – get so much engagement without actually telling you what’s in said post. Few people on Facebook want to spend valuable time deciphering what a post actually means, so why we have to be coerced into clicking without being told what is being linked to has always struck me as slightly unworthy, even if the content itself is valuable and interesting. You just shouldn’t need to coerce people to read valuable and interesting content. And this update makes that even clearer – make your content count, and your audience should engage.

    2. Which means… it’s all about YOUR AUDIENCE

      It should always be about your audience, of course, but these changes should encourage us to study the people who take the time to engage with our pages in more detail: what sort of content do they respond well to? What brings huge numbers in terms of likes, and what brings more thoughtful comments? And – most importantly – what makes them click (literally and actually)? It becomes less about the generic psychology of what makes people respond (though, again, this will always be important) and more about the specific psychology of the people who like YOUR page. So after they’ve clicked, what percentage convert to a specific action? It’s about the whole journey, not just the chasing of likes and shares that, in the end, give you little reward aside from a slight increase in brand awareness.

So there you go – two of the many reasons I think this update is one of the most significant Facebook have ever announced.

What do you think?

Facebook thumbs down

They are a-changin’

Facebook thumbs downIt’s been a while.

The past few months have been more about editorial content and website optimisation than Facebook algorithm changes and Twitter updates for me – not that they care for my workload over in California, what with Facebook changing their page layout twice over and Twitter deciding we must all want to tag each other in photos (because if we do it on Facebook and Instagram, of course we need to be able to do it on Twitter.)

But I have noticed two things happening with my Facebook feed that are puzzling me.

  1. I am seeing a lot of posts from people who I am not directly friends with in my own newsfeed. So, if a friend-of-a-friend posts a birthday message on our mutual friends’ wall, I see a string of these updates in my Latest Posts feed. If a brand tags one of my friends in a photo or post, I see that on my wall too. Why, if I’ve set my privacy settings so that friends-of-friends can’t see my own posts, would Facebook assume I want to see what my friends’ friends are sharing with them?
  2. Similarly – my friends report seeing posts in their feeds whenever I like or comment on something, even if the post I like or comment on is on the wall of a person they don’t know.

Both these things have been happening for a while, but the frequency with which I’m seeing them seems to be increasing and despite numerous searches I can’t find any way to prevent this.

Has anyone else noticed this? If you’ve any suggestions, I’d love to know. Feel free to leave a comment below, or tweet me…

‘Appy New Year


1st January. A day for low-level hangover-friendly activities, like writing old dates in a new calendar and sorting through all the apps you haven’t used in a year. Like a wardrobe clear out for your phone.

I’ve got 43 apps on my phone. There are at least 10 I hardly ever use. And yet clearing them out is as difficult as throwing away clothes. It’s like deleting Trello or Mailbox or Remember The Milk is some sort of admission of organisational failure: I downloaded them to help me keep better control of the boring minutiae of my life, and yet I haven’t got round to using them, because keeping control of minutiae is, of course, boring.

So keeping them there as a visual reminder of my desire to be more organised, even if I’m yet to organise myself to using them, has to count, right?

Of course if I were to make a real commitment to organisational productivity, I’d delete Dots. But it’s perfect New Year’s Day material, so that’s not going to happen.

Happy New Year, if you’re reading this.

I should have known that… part two

unfriendA couple of months ago I wrote a post about some of those little things on your Facebook profile you feel like you should know, but then you look at and realise you haven’t the foggiest. I’m sure Facebook used to be intuitive back in the heady days of 2005 but it doesn’t always feel like that now…

Anyway, no blog post about Facebook is ever going to be exhaustive so here are a few more things to add to said list.

Q: How do I unfriend someone on Facebook?

A: Go to the profile of the person you want to unfriend. Find the little arrow button at the bottom of their cover photo, on the right. Click the arrow.  You’ll get a drop-down list of options. At the bottom of this list you’ll see ‘unfriend’.

Q: Will the person be notified that I’ve unfriended them?

A: No. They won’t be notified, and they won’t know anything about it unless they happen to go on your profile and see that you’re no longer friends. But if they’re the sort of person who is likely to do that and you don’t want them to have even the slightest clue, your best bet would be to add them to your acquaintances list so you see less of them in your newsfeed, or even hide all their updates. Then add them to a restricted list so that they only ever see your public updates. Find out how to do all this here.

Q: Who can see my photos?

A: This entirely depends on the settings of the person who added the photos. If a friend adds a picture of you, their post will follow their own privacy settings. Typically a photo will be visible to the friend list of both the person who added it and the people who have been tagged, so if you don’t want to automatically have your photos appear to all make sure you review photos people tag of you in your Activity Log. To see your Activity Log, go to your profile and it’s the second main button on the right side at the bottom of your cover photo.

Q: How do I set the audience on my own posts/photos?

Every time you post a status update or a picture you have the option to set the audience – it will display in the status box as an option to the left of the ‘post’ button. To set your default audience view (eg if you want only a certain list to see everything), go to your privacy settings – it’s the little ‘lock’ icon in the top right-hand corner next to the gear icon. Click it and you’ll get a drop-down list which shows you what your privacy settings are. You can change them here.

Q: What about my old posts? How do I make sure they’re not public?

As above, go to your privacy settings and at the bottom of the drop-down list click ‘see more settings.’ From there you can select to ‘limit past posts.’ There’s more information about what this means here.

Q: I keep seeing this post about Facebook taking away the ‘who can look up your profile by name’ option. What does this mean?

A: It means that anyone who types your name into the search box in Facebook will be able to find your profile now – before, if you used this feature, you could restrict this. Now, the way to restrict what people see is by using the privacy settings as detailed above. If you’ve got everything switched to Friends Only, for example, someone who finds your profile who isn’t a friend will only see that information which is public. Note, this refers to search within Facebook only, not all search engines. More information here.

Q: My profile does/doesn’t show in Google search results – why/why not?

A: This is also something you can set under your privacy settings. As above, go to ‘see more settings’ and you’ll see an option at the bottom of the list saying, ‘Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?’ Note the ‘other’ means search engines in addition to Facebook’s Graph Search, so basically Google but also Bing and whatever else people may be using at undisclosed time in the future. Make sure the box is checked or unchecked depending on whether or not you want people to be able to find your Facebook profile in Google search and the like.