Small Tweaks That Can Make Big Impacts on Social Referrals

There’s no question that social media is one of the most effective ways for publishers to distribute digital content — as of December 2015, more than 45 percent of traffic to publisher sites on the network came from social.

So, how can you make sure that your social posts capture this audience?

The team has spoken with a handful of publishers in our network to uncover the best advice for anyone looking to get the most out of their social media posts.

Use data to understand different platform audiences

Each social media platform provides a different type of experience; social media teams must be sure that their posts match the tone and needs of that particular audience. Start by knowing how each platform drives people to your site, and use that information to focus your efforts.

It may be better for your team to spend time only on the platforms that are valuable to your readership, or you may find that different platforms work best for different types of articles or authors. Looking at the data will help you to make decisions about where to spend your time and resources — without guesswork.

Consider questions like:

  • Do certain sections or authors get more traffic from social media?
  • Do certain tags get more visitors from specific platforms?
  • Is there a time of day when referral traffic from a specific source spikes or drops?

Need a way to answer these questions? Check out our tour page.

Post, post, and re-post

Once you decide where to post your content, don’t be afraid to post it often.

“Facebook has proven to be a good referrer for evergreen content,” confided Adam Felder, associate director of analytics for Atlantic Media, in a recent webinar hosted by Publishing Executive. To capitalize on the full power of the platform, Felder suggests posting content in different iterations, multiple times, to try to get traction. His team used to make around 800 posts per month on Facebook; they upped this to 1,200 posts per month and noticed that increasing the posting volume led to increased reach.

How can you keep posting without sounding too repetitive? Vary the information you share in the post that links to the content. Use different visuals or include quotes for multiple tweets to generate interest and target readers in different ways at different times. As you grow this practice, explore options like Facebook’s interest targeting options for publishers.

Change your headline for different audiences

In a world increasingly filled with personalized messaging, one headline isn’t enough for social success.

According to Felder, 95 percent of articles shared by have different headlines depending on where they are shared. He explains why: “social sites have different audiences with different interests.” By using different headlines with the same content, has almost doubled it’s traffic.

Since you already know that each platform has a different audience, make sure the headline you’re using on each resonates with the topics, themes, or even the language that readers on that platform use.


There’s something to be said about following best practices, but if you’re doing the same thing as your competitors you could be missing out on bigger opportunities. Just like with data and analytics, social platforms are resources that tell you more about what readers want and how they respond to your work. Finding ways to take advantage of that information can catapult a social media strategy from “functional” to “exceptional.”

That’s what happened when Buzzfeed launched Pound, a proprietary system that tracks how content is shared within and across different social networks. Buzzfeed uses the insights gleaned from Pound to show advertisers how and where their sponsored content will perform best, which in turn, generates revenue.

Even without Buzzfeed-level resources, you can find plenty of ways to get creative within the framework of content sharing on social media. Do you have a great story about how you’ve done this already and want to share it? Contact us at!

For more tips on how to distribute content via social media, check out a recent Computerworld article from CEO Sachin Kamdar.