How to use Social Media to Engage Users on Site

When social media hit its peak and Facebook became the primary platform for consuming content at a voracious pace, publishers were in a tough position, as they needed to reach the active audience available on social media platforms but missed out on potential traffic and revenue from their owned and operated sites.

Now, successful publishers are using social media as a marketing tool and less as a pure distribution channel.

Below are three ways you can use social media and other techniques to engage audiences on your own sites.

1. Identify and Share Undervalued Content

While there are countless tools to help you maximize the reach of your social media distribution, knowing what engages your users and what to post is most important. Looking at your video consumption data is a good place to start.

By viewing the leader board data in the IRIS Vision™ dashboard, you can see which videos are undervalued yet proven to keep viewers watching and engaged.

What is an undervalued video?

An undervalued video is one that has hidden engagement - one that didn’t receive a lot of clicks when first published on an article or video page, but was a high performing video when surfaced downstream by our recommendation engine, Adaptive Stream™.  You can identify candidates by looking at the videos with high recommended view to initial view ratio.

In the example below, this video had substantially higher recommended views than initial views and a low bounce rate:




By using this data, editorial teams can filter through assets and identify what might be a good fit for capturing a social media audience and lead to potential site visits. While upholding your editorial standards, select an undervalued asset that meets these requirements. A video with a high ratio of recommended views to initial views and a low bounce rate could indicate that a social media audience will find this content interesting and lead to loyal user growth and engagement.

2. Use Social to Build Your Brand

Today, publishers have learned that social media can be a powerful tool, a way to capture users attention and to drive engaged audiences to their own sites off of the platforms. Understanding your social audience and treating social media as a branding and community engagement tool rather than a way to distribute all of your content is a balancing act.

IRIS.TV partner USA Today Networks has achieved this lucrative balance with one of their local papers. The Milwaukee Sentinel realized that not every news story should be published on Facebook. They grew their Facebook reach and started to create content just for social audiences while reserving other news stories for their owned and operated sites only. Of course, they reached this conclusion by looking at the performance of their content and finding their social audience.

How to use Social Media to Engage Users on Site

3. Serve your Audiences How they Want to be Served

Entertainment clients have used social media to their advantage as music, movies, TV shows, and celebrity stories tend to have a longer shelf life and capture attention for weeks and even months after a video asset is published.

Sports clients, given the timely nature of their content, have a different challenge.  There are major tentpole sports events that attract a larger audience and they are actively discussing on social media, while regular sports fanatics want their content served to them immediately and consistently.

Publishers have begun to get creative with this and are now creating specific newsletters for these audiences, directly to their inbox. The New York Times called this new resurgence of newsletters  “The social network that isn’t new at all” and many publishers are seeing success. 

New York Times GOT Newsletter


Some publishers have created “pop up” newsletters, or newsletters around a specific TV series, sports event,  or cultural phenomenon. The point is, publishers are listening to what their audiences want, and they are delivering it to them directly. Take a look at how Axios, and other publishers are seeing success and driving user engagement, as even local news organizations are leveraging this trend.

When it comes to selecting what videos to include in a newsletter, follow the same technique for identifying videos with hidden engagement. Your subscribers have likely already watched the videos with high initial clicks, showing them undervalued videos will provide them added incentive to continue to engage with your content on your site.

In the age of social media, publishers have had to get creative in order to compete and work with social platforms and for some, it’s beginning to pay off. Success is largely due to having a data-driven approach to content and a focus on audience building. 

Look at your data, listen to your audience, and use social media as a supplement to your already strong content strategy.

To learn more about social media best practices for video, contact your IRIS.TV programming strategist. If you are not an IRIS.TV client, contact us for a consultation.