Fast and dirty on Facebook

by Steve Watson in February 2013
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When Stack launched we put up a Facebook group, and didn’t really know what to do with it. At some point the group turned into a page, and I still didn’t know what to do with it.

Then a couple of months ago I was watching a presentation by Douglas McCabe from Enders Analysis about media consumption. He was showing how the amount of time and money we spend reading print magazines is decreasing, at the same time that the amount of time and money we spend on the web is increasing. It’s a familiar tale, and the sort of thing that’s often trotted out to support the old ‘print is dead’ argument.

Douglas was careful to stress that this is actually a really interesting and exciting time for print, a point of view backed up by the pile of magazines currently sitting on my desk. But how do you reconcile the changing fortunes of print and the web? How can the booming success of the web help to support print?

That’s when my thoughts turned to Facebook.

Magazines are a slow pleasure. For the most part you go and find somewhere to sit, and you give your undivided attention to a single piece of print for a chunk of time. The web is the opposite of that – we dip in and dip out of pages from a huge variety of sources, and more and more we’re doing it from our phones, while we’re on the move or in the middle of doing something else.

So from now on, the Stack Facebook page is dedicated to taking the slow pleasure of magazines and turning it into a faster, more snack-sized enjoyment – the sort of thing you might fiddle around with for 30 seconds while you’re doing something else. That means competitions, quick bits of news, and pictures. Lots of pictures.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting with different types of content, and some clear trends are emerging:

First of all, pictures of magazines are very popular. All of the top five posts for user engagement (the number of people who clicked on a post) consist of pictures of magazines.

Pictures also do well for virality (the percentage of people who like, comment, etc, out of the total number of people who have seen the post). Competitions and questions do well here too.

News about events do less well – the few events we’ve mentioned haven’t really been engaged with. So I probably won’t do too much more of that.

Of course I’m still experimenting with all this and trying to figure out what works, so if you have strong feelings please do let me know. The one thing I am sure of is that there’s an opportunity here – to introduce more people to independent publishing, and to keep them updated with the brilliant work that’s being done by small publishers. And that’s got to be a good thing.

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