3 Facebook features PR pros should be using

Three new tools can help news outlets connect with people who are increasingly turning to the social media giant for their news.

Though it started as a site for college kids to connect, Facebook has become a major source of news for most of its users. More than 60 percent of users (up from 47 percent in 2013) log in to their accounts to get the news.

Facebook users are more likely to post and respond to news content than Twitter users are. Recognizing that trend, Facebook has added tools for news outlets. Here are three of those features and tips on how to use them:

1. Instant Articles

The New York Times, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, The Washington Post and The Guardian are among the major media outlets publishing to Facebook’s Instant Articles. The program is now available to all publishers of any size, anywhere.

Instant Articles aims to speed up load times on mobile devices. Publishers can sell ads to appear with their articles, reap 100 percent of the revenue and track which ads work best with their audience.

The program is compatible with comScore, Omniture and Google Analytics, enabling publishers to see how much traffic Facebook is driving to their content, what types of articles are most engaging and how long readers are staying. For example, the French political newspaper Libération recently noticed a 30 percent increase in time spent reading the 150 daily articles it published over a two-month span.

Tip: Make sure your website is mobile friendly and can benefit from the speedier load times. Consider repurposing content into multimedia formats. Cision’s State of the Media 2016 Report again highlighted the growing importance of video- and image-based content.

2. Signal

More than half of the journalists surveyed in the 2016 report said they used social media to find sources. About 56 percent of respondents said they incorporated user-generated content in their news articles.

Facebook paid attention and launched Signal in September 2015. Signal helps journalists to see what’s driving the conversation on Facebook and Instagram, including which hashtags and location tags correspond with what news events and which public figures are mentioned most. Other features: searching and saving posts, images or videos, and embedding content into websites or broadcasts.

Tip: To stand out from the crowd and increase your social media reach, organize a conversation about a relevant topic. If you can use the right hashtag at the right time, you may find your company quoted by a journalist using Signal.

3. Trending Now

Last June, Facebook revamped its Trending Topics sidebar by splitting the list into five categories: politics, science, technology, sports and entertainment.

Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what is popular on the network, rather than just updating what news is breaking, asTwitter does. Facebook also includes headlines to provide more context.

When users click on a topic, they’re taken to a news feed with media posts and lists of articles shared or commented on by friends. In a few quick clicks, users can interact with others interested in the same story.

Tip: Consider what your company’s perspective can add to a trending news event. For continuing big topics (e.g., the Super Bowl), pitch a new angle for a follow-up story.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Cision blog.

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