A true Facebook experience

I brought my newsroom into Facebook long before "fan" pages were created. I knew it would be a space to share and interact with our audience. During breaking news, bad weather and interesting stories everyone wants to talk about, it's a great place to interact. I have seen a growing participation in our small market in the middle of Missouri. In the past year, I was able to build interaction with our page and take the number of "fans" (now they people who clicked "like") up from 250 to 1330. It is not very large, but a nice start. I expected younger, more digital news consumers to participate. But in the end, I've found people 30 and older are more likely to comment. They are also more likely to share photos and stories with our Ning network. But on slower news days, the interaction stops. Also, very sunny and nice days slow down the conversations as well. It makes sense.

But I didn't really understand Facebook interaction and its potential until I took my mom blog about my daughter to Facebook. I invited people I knew to "like" it. Then I started adding little stories that would never make it to the blog. I shared and met and created better online relationships with people I know and don't know. In two weeks, it has boosted the blog's site traffic by 100 percent. Readership time increased by more than a minute per visit. I think it's fascinating.

On our news page, when we link to our site, it boosts traffic. But I have found building a relationship with our news readers are not as easy as it has been on Twitter. Our news users visit and maybe comment but there is little community I seem to be able to build there. It may be my fault. It may be our market. Maybe I just haven't found the right way to take full advantage of the Facebook experience. But when I work with my mom blog page, there is consistent interaction. There are people who have liked the page who have never met me or my daughter. There are people who made new connections with us and the website that would have never happened without the Facebook experience.

With these positive experiences, I'm trying to find ways to take my new knowledge of Facebook page success and move it to our newsroom's page. I added my name to our news page's info box to try and add transparency to the "wizard behind the screen" feeling a Facebook page can give. I try to not over post, but worry about days when we under post. I have not given many people access to our Facebook page. I don't have a tool that helps me manage access like CoTweet which I use to manage our many, many KOMU Twitter reporters. I'd love to hear other ideas out there.