Why “RSS to Facebook” is bad for you

A tiny change to how we feed our Facebook page turned the social network from an insignificant source of traffic to one of our top referral sites.

When I created our Facebook page, I wanted to automate as many things as possible. One way to do that was to take our RSS feed and add it to Facebook’s notes function. That way, our news would be added automatically and shared with our 15,000 fans; nobody had to do anything about it and nothing would get missed.

Hindsight shows that this was a terrible idea because I did not take the needs of our users into consideration.

If the user experience sucks, nobody will come

I had noticed for a long time that the traffic we got from Facebook was minimal. But I didn’t pay much attention. If I had and thought about it a bit more, I would have noticed that the user experience sucked.

The reason: If you see a note on a Facebook page and you want to read more, you are not brought to the original source of the note but to this:

fb_page_rss_1

Using the notes-function, this tiny link is the only way for users to get to your site.

As you can see – this is all text. What’s more, it’s tiny text and the link to your website is even smaller. No wonder, hardly anyone bothered to click through to our site.

When I switched the RSS import off and started posting news as ordinary wall-posts the results were stunning! Immediately we got hundreds of new visitors on our web site! Doing it manually also allowed me to include a thumbnail  and write a slightly customized blurb. Sure that is slightly more work – but definitely worth it.

fb_page_manual

Adding news manually looks better and leads users to your site directly.

Sometimes problems are shockingly obvious and solutions surprisingly simply. For me this was a real “Duh”-moment.

Please, make me feel better – what was the last shockingly obvious problem you ignored for a long time?

  • Good tip. Thanks for sharing.

  • Did you try posterous? It links within facebook directly to your posterous page.

    • Thanks Vedran. But, unless I'm missing something, this actually wouldn't help.

      From what I understand it would link the posterous page directly to Facebook on the one hand and to the original post on the other hand. While that is better than the terribly ugly Notes page, it's worse than adding the posts manually. Because the user would then have to go Farcebook -> Posterous -> ifrc.org. But at the end of the day I want people to go from Facebook to our site directly and not via an additional step.

  • How about NetworkedBlogs? It will post all of your blog posts to your blog's Facebook page, and they look like mini versions of the blog itself.

    • Good suggestion, thanks. Does NetworkedBlogs work for any kind of RSS feed? I suppose so. It never occurred to me to use it for non-blog sites but I suppose it should work.

  • I had same experience, but found a solution: RSS – > Feedburner -> Twitter -> Facebook. Same as you posted it manually 😉

  • djexothermic

    There is still no good option available aside from posting manually. I just tried numerous Facebook applications, and most of them don't even work. NetworkedBlogs, and a few other apps, work fairly well but everyone of them tries to stick a intermediate step between the Facebook page and the wall post. The simplest option is not available: all I want is for a new blog post to be posted on the Facebook page wall just like if I posted a link. NetworkedBlogs and some others will display the blog post inside a frame with additional garbage, and include unnecessary and distracting links on the wall post.

  • Thanks Timo. I agree with you about not including the rss feeds.____My question for djexo would be why. Why would you want to have your full blog post showing up in your facebook page/ tab? Sometimes we want the latest and greatest and waste precious time. Do your customers want this or is this something you want? Maybe look back on your strategy and analyze the why's. You might uncover some unmet needs of your users and realize that leaving your blog on your site is fine just the way it is. Look into pulling your customers to your website with useful information and get them on your site where a "buy now" decesion can be made versus having them stay on facebook.

  • Saurabh Kumar

    I’ve tried RSS Graffity a couple of times and what i noticed is that it’s not good. Sometimes it works fine and sometime the picture with the post doesn’t appear or the update comes very late. This will lead traffic gone bad. I suggest not to use RSS automate feature. It’s not good for website or blog health..

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