From day one, Vox.com has had a simple editorial mission: explain the news.
In less than a year of existence, the site has grown to over 23 million monthly unique visitors and has cultivated a hyper-engaged fan base both on and off their platforms. This rapid ascent made Vox.com one of the most successful publisher launches of 2014 and can be largely attributed to their approach to publishing and audience on Facebook.
Here's how how the Vox.com team makes that happen.
Social Is Intrinsic
Substance is viral
At Vox Media we have an ethos that "substance is viral" and Vox.com embodies this by creating in-depth, informative content that audiences are proud to share. This editorial approach contributed to a record volume of shares of Vox.com content on Facebook this February; a month when serious topics, such as war and disease, dominated the news cycle.
At Vox.com, publishing and distribution isn't something that starts once a story is complete. Every writer and editor is responsible for producing content that is smart and premium, but also optimized for sharing from the beginning of the development process.
Senior editors, working with a company-wide audience development team, continuously train and empower the newsroom with best practices for developing smart headlines, choosing the most compelling images, optimizing content for mobile consumption, as well as maximizing the built in social distribution features of Vox Media's Chorus publishing platform.
"In addition to the strong growth of the Vox.com Facebook page itself, we continue to see a high rate of sharing outside of our page, which can be attributed to this holistic approach to social distribution," Vox.com's Engagement Editor Allison Rockey says.
By making social packaging second nature to its journalists, Vox.com has seen Facebook referrals increase nearly 200% over a six-month period and at times Facebook has accounted for up to 40% of the site's overall monthly traffic.
Understand the Ecosystem
"We want to give our fans a complete experience wherever they are."
When Vox.com interviewed President Obama in February 2015, the staff released in-depth excerpts - not short teasers - of their full interview natively through the Facebook video player ahead of the interview's launch on Vox.com. The clips were viewed 250K times in the first two hours and over 1 million times total, proving the value of going where the audience is, packaging content in formats that are conducive to the platform, and appealing to audiences in a way that feels natural in that environment.
Understanding that there is inherent brand-building value in getting in front of audiences even if they aren't always directed back to a website has been a key element of Vox.com's Facebook growth. By employing this strategy, Vox.com has been able to attract fans quickly and grow a strong base on Facebook, which in turn results in more web site referrals over the long run.
This Ebola image is another example of playing natively on Facebook's platform while still driving readers back to Vox.com for more information:
Starting with Community First
Ezra Klein came to Vox Media with loyal readers he wanted to stay in touch with and his Facebook page gives him the opportunity to do that. Fans of Vox.com and fans of Ezra's get a look into what he is reading and they can respond and interact with Ezra personally. His human, personal approach to sharing content has been well received by his fans. This feedback is great for the site as Ezra can stay in close contact with the fans and see immediately how they respond to stories and the content Vox.com is creating.
By leveraging the pages of the site's founders and staff members, Vox.com's Facebook page organically reached over 1 million weekly users by the end of its first month. When publishing in tandem, Ezra Klein’s page and Vox.com's page frequently contribute half of the site’s daily Facebook referrals. There is also little overlap among the fans of Ezra's page and Vox.com's page, meaning Ezra's audience is almost entirely additive to the site's audience.