‘U.S. News & World Report’ Backs Best Colleges Rankings with Facebook’s Interest Targeting

U.S. News & World Report used Facebook’s interest targeting tool for publishers to help promote its annual Best Colleges rankings to the appropriate Facebook users.

USNewsAndWorldReportBannerU.S. News & World Report used Facebook’s interest targeting tool for publishers to help promote its annual Best Colleges rankings to the appropriate Facebook users.

Facebook strategic partner manager, news Meghan Peters said in a Facebook Media blog post that U.S. News & World Report social media editor Lauren Boyer used interest targeting to focus on Facebook users who had expressed interest in the top five schools on each ranking list.

According to Peters, the U.S. News post about the 10 best public universities tallied nearly 80 times the engagement of an average post on the page.

The U.S. News lists were originally published last Sept. 9, prior to the availability of interest targeting for publishers, and while the posts set the publication’s referral records, most traffic was coming from universities’ pages sharing the results, and not from the U.S. News page itself.

Peters wrote that when Boyer published the rankings again on Facebook during the week of Jan. 5 through 11, all traffic came from the U.S. News page, resulting in a 412 percent week-over-week traffic increase to the site’s education vertical and a doubling of Facebook likes.

U.S. News will apply a similar strategy to its upcoming rankings, including best graduate schools and best hospitals.

U.S. News vice president of data and information strategy Stephanie Salmon said in the blog post:

For all publishers, you want to get in front of the audience where your content really resonates. Interest targeting has been a really good tool for that. The concept that you target something to a few hundred or a few thousand people, and then it gets shared with magnitudes more than that, really speaks to the value of audience development.

Boyer added:

This is the most engaging content we have — it should be interesting to people beyond the week it publishes.

People in the comments were saying they didn’t know their school was best for fraternities.

I can’t emphasize enough what a great audience development tool Facebook has created with interest-based and other targeting. It has opened up all kinds of opportunities for us to reach the right audience with the right content — content that would otherwise meet deaf ears when posted to a general audience.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.