In about a month, The Daily Tar Heel’s Facebook fan count has grown by slightly more than 1,000 people — approximately 250 percent. How?
We created our Facebook page in early March, but beyond entering basic info and setting a profile picture, we didn’t do much with the page in terms of interacting with readers. Our fan count was growing gradually, but lacked any sort of momentum.
The community manager post at the DTH is a new one this year. We felt like devoting one person — Emily Stephenson — as the face behind our social media accounts would increase the quality of our interactions with readers. The rapidly growing number of fans validates this theory, and because a good amount of traffic to our Web site generates from Facebook, the more fans we have who are potentially clicking through to our Web site clearly benefits us in the long run.
On a daily basis, Emily chooses selected articles to post on our Facebook page. Other times she asks readers for input for future stories we’re working on. Sometimes she asks for feedback on stories we’ve written. She responds whenever readers ask questions, and she’s also solicited reader-submitted photos via Facebook. Emily’s also the face behind @dailytarheel on Twitter (which has seen considerable growth in followers since mid-August too, but had a much more developed fan base than our Facebook page initially).
What Emily’s doing isn’t rocket science, but the results show there’s incredible value in what she’s doing. They also show how much news organizations can benefit by just talking and listening to readers online. Fancy apps are great, but they can’t replace basic reader-reporter relationships.