Promoting your news web site online requires more due diligence than promoting a business that sells a physical product. Like the name of your site, your domain name should be unique, recognizable and something that people can easily remember. After you set up the brand and generate content, the next step is to promote the news articles and make sure they get read. One way is to promote through social media.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter offer opportunities for readers to directly connect with web content. Create accounts on the most popular social media platforms. To syndicate your news feed on those services, there are a few prerequisites. Make sure that your news site has an RSS/Atom feed. With the RSS/Atom feed handy, create an account using the service “TwitterFeed.” Follow the instructions and link the RSS/Atom feed to your Facebook and Twitter. Every time you publish an article, it appears on Facebook and Twitter automatically.
When it’s convenient, be sure to login to your accounts and interact with readers and potential readers.
On Facebook fan pages, there’s limited personal interactivity between the page administrators and fans. Facebook appeals to more organic growth. You promote the articles on your site’s fan page and wait for people to “like” you: that’s not a formula for success. You can do more with a Facebook fan page — a lot more.
Consider running sponsored ads for your news site. This allows your site to receive exposure on user profiles of those within your targeted demographic. Facebook Ads offer businesses the opportunity to broadcast ads based on a specified age range, location and interests. You’ll also see very detailed estimates on how many people your ad will “reach.” Those estimates will come in handy when crafting a presentation for potential advertisers. Before you invest any money in Facebook Ads, consider the nature of your news site. If your news site appeals to a limited or niche demographic, you should focus instead on promoting your site for free by using Twitter and submitting your site to search engines.
Critics of the Facebook advertising program have said that Facebook ads are too discreet and not very engaging. To overcome these issues, you need to have ad copy that will emotionally invest people into reading the news on your website. Think like someone at a news desk. You need a captivating headline and concise teaser copy that brings people to you. Consider mentioning milestones for your publication (“Over two million subscribers!”) and announcing/reminding potential readers of resourceful sections (i.e. Classifieds). Your teaser copy must be clear and focused on one subject. Don’t hesitate to place advertisements that announce giveaways and contests held by your publication. Advertising a news site on Facebook will always be trial and error, but the likelihood of gaining new visitors will increase when you invest in longer ad campaigns. Continuously tweak your ad content until you find the right wording and demographic.
Your Facebook page content needs constant maintenance. You need to populate your Facebook page with news articles regularly. Be sure to interact with your readers regularly and converse with them. Human interaction is a popular social media trend for businesses. Encourage readers and viewers to not only check out your content, but also comment and get involved in other ways. For example, readers respond favorably to captivating visuals — just like they do in print publications. Readers tend to respond to photos of stunning and colorful landscapes, food photos, and timeless portraits that readers can relate to. It’s preferred that the visuals you upload on your Facebook page relate to articles on your website. Follow up with some text that encourages people to check out your articles and features.
Twitter takes things to the next level. The popular social media service allows news sites to interact with people directly. Take advantage of the features that Twitter has, such as the “Find People” option. If you have a Gmail, Yahoo or an AOL e-mail account that has contacts, use that e-mail account and Twitter will search for contacts that also have a Twitter account. Be sure to “follow” those who are already following you on Twitter. Sites like “Twellow” ( http://www.twellow.com/ ) can help you find followers based on categories. Tweet Grader ( http://tweet.grader.com ) allows you to find and follow users who live in your community. Follow members that would be interested in the news on your web site. The people you choose to follow should also have many followers and update regularly. Never think about the amount of people you follow. Always think about the type of people who you want to follow. Quality over quantity is an adage that’s welcomed on Twitter. If you focus on finding the right people — and not following a lot of people — you’ll be successful.
Connect with users who either benefit from reading the articles you publish or would be interested. For example, if you have an article that features a certain business, follow popular users that are likely to express interest in the business and their product, including the business’ Twitter account. If you have an article that covers an event, follow popular users that have a strong likelihood of posting or re-tweeting event information. Interact with these users in moderation. Imagine you’re at a bar and you overhear people talking about something that you’re interested in. The best way to jump in is to study the flow of the conversation and then take part once the opportunity to do so arises. If someone asks a question about a subject featured in one of your articles, feel free to answer them with a link. People will appreciate the friendliness as long as you’re focused on being resourceful and not promoting your news site directly. Remember, you’re trying to promote your news site — so being resourceful should be your primary goal. Once you develop a large following or subscriber base, you will no longer need to do this.
It’s important to note that message boards are good for article promotion. While message boards are now taking a backseat because of social media, they’re still very useful for generating buzz and traffic. Register accounts and take part regularly on message boards that relate to your content. It’s advised that you link to your material responsibly and sparingly. In other words, do not spam a message board with links. Only give self-serving links when there is relevance and a deficiency of information. Provide a link to your domain name in your forum signature. Also, don’t hesitate to customize your forum profile. People will be more attentive to those who have a strong, human presence. And once you feel that your site has developed a consistent, substantial amount of traffic, you won’t need to continue promoting your site on message boards.
News websites are a dime a dozen, which is why it’s so important to have quality content. No matter how you promote your news site, the goal for your news site is to have articles that are clear, engaging, thought-provoking and resourceful. When people are able to see that your news site is dynamic in design, organization and content, they will use your site as a resource. News is often considered a disposable commodity in the digital marketplace, but it takes a good content provider — with the promotional know-how — to make the news something worth reading.