Social networks have become extremely important referral sources for many online media outlets. In light of Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, some digital publishers have become laser-focused on how much traffic the social media giant is driving (or not driving) to their posts. And according to new research from Parse.ly, the homepage is one of the best resources at your organization’s disposal to help you predict whether a particular post will do well on social.
We calculated the percentage of article referrals generated by the homepage (see the chart below), and saw that many sites rely more heavily on social and search referrals. Armed with this data, we decided to look for relationships between social and the homepage that could improve social virality.
Using the Homepage to Help Your Content “Go Viral” on Social Networks
To make the best use of the data your homepage provides, you need to outline clear goals for the content you are posting. Homepage editors and social media editors can work together to increase social referrals to a particular post, according to our research. Data from more than 20,500 articles showed that a homepage can identify “social-positive” articles.
How can you make that information actionable for you? Post an article in a prime spot on your homepage and take a look at where the bulk of its referral traffic is coming from after 500 pageviews: homepage referrals or social referrals. You only need to look at this small number of pageviews — according to Parse.ly’s research — to predict whether or not the post is social-positive and will continue do well on social. If you see a higher ratio of homepage referrers to social referrers, it’s a candidate for replacement.
Your homepage is the ultimate A/B test!
Uncovering Optimal Content for Loyal Readers
Conversely, if an article has received 500 pageviews, and fewer than one-third of these are from social referrals versus homepage referrals, you’re looking at a social-negative post. This means that there is a 76 percent chance that it will continue to receive the bulk of its referrers from your homepage — and not from social media.
If your goal is for your loyal audience to read a post, it may be worth keeping it in the prime homepage slot; after all, around 80 percent of homepage visitors are returning visitors and they would be more likely to see the content.
By closely monitoring the immediate traction of articles you’ve posted to your homepage, you can quickly — and accurately — predict whether a piece is social-positive or social-negative and move it to an appropriate homepage slot based on your site’s goals.