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?