Tip: Do not focus on Facebook
Bleacher Report is one of the most popular sports news websites in the world, so much so that they are competing with the likes of ESPN, CBS, etc.
And they are not committed to Facebook, which is a different strategy when compared to most publishers.
As the largest social network with a ton of tools designed for publishers and content marketers, it is easy to focus on Facebook as a distribution and audience channel.
Lucia Moses at Digiday did a great breakdown last month of how Bleacher Report thinks about Facebook and their overall traffic strategy.
Why would the Bleacher Report not want to squeeze every possible piece of traffic they could get form the world’s largest social network?
“You want to establish as many traffic channels as possible,” said Rory Brown, chief content officer at Bleacher Report.
They have chosen to look long term, investing in all original content and making sure their traffic numbers can survive an algorithm or ecosystem change from Facebook, Twitter, and other distribution channels.
And because of that focus, Bleacher Report can claim a much higher than average direct traffic percentage than their peers, much of that traffic coming from owned channels.
So how did they do it?
1. Don’t Put All Your Chips On Facebook
Bleacher Report does not ignore Facebook. That would be silly. They were the “8th most shared publisher on Facebook and 6th most tweeted on Twitter in January 2015″ according to Digiday.
But they make sure they are not relying on it for a large percentage of their traffic. Instead of posting as much as they can to the platform and embracing every new change Facebook makes (see Facebook’s recent video focus), they treat Facebook as one of many channels and let their fans do the majority of sharing for them on the platform.
“…we want to pick our battles. If Facebook or Twitter made some kind of algorithm change, it would affect us too, but not as much as some of the others [publishers],” said Brown.
2. Own Your Mobile Channel
As part of their plan to diversify their traffic, the app makes a huge impact as an owned property that sends notifications straight to the mobile phones of their audience.
40% of Bleacher Report’s traffic is direct. The mobile app helps push a lot of that direct traffic.
3. Diversify Your Content’s Value
Bleacher Report has invested in all original article content on their website.
But they also value curation and sharing news from a larger set of publishers on their mobile app. Only a third of the news shared through the Team Stream app is from Bleacher Report.
And they are also investing in more visual content. They are a partner of Snapchat’s new Discover feature (outside the US) and they are hiring dedicated staff this year specifically for creating visual content, images and video, for sharing on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.
Is your content strategy and website traffic this diverse? Or are you relying on one major platform (Facebook, Pinterest, Google, etc) that could heavily impact your future success?
Please add your traffic diversity tips in the comments.