Game changer: Facebook Connect

More evidence if you needed it of how powerful Facebook Connect can be from HuffingtonPost.com, which has used it to help recently surpass WashingtonPost.com.

I was looking at it recently as part of our social media strategy and how we might use it and while HuffingtonPost.com is in a league of its own in terms of the vast traffic it generates what it does has important pointers, I think, for others.

While some have queried the of what the Huffington Post has achieved CEO Eric Hippeau in an interview on PaidContent yesterday makes a good case for why it is more than noteworthy.

“It wasn’t so much the Washington Post—by the way, it’s also the LA Times, it’s also the online edition of the Wall Street Journal. Of the big national newspapers, there’s only two our size that are still bigger than we are: USA Today, which is a very different audience, and the New York Times, which will always be a big brand and very well read and well respected. We’re not in a race with the newspapers. We’re not in a race with anything in particular. Our goal is to establish the brand that defines news and opinion on digital platforms.”

And how it did that is interesting, from a political and commentary blog to a pretty much all singing all dancing news site (let’s side step the issue of content scraping/oversharing for today), with sport, culture, books and business all being added not to mention its regional editions across the US (Chicago, New York and Denver).

All this is helping it according to comScore hit 6.8m uniques in September. That’s up a whopping 50% year on year.

How, in part at least, it has achieve that is through its much talked about Social News with Facebook Connect, which it only implemented in August (Huffington Post and Facebook Go “Social News,” With Connect on Steroids) and allows readers to create a personalised social networking-like news page on the Huffington Post as well as comment and share content easily with Facebook friends.

 

PaidContent details what Social News with Facebook Connect has meant in terms of those nitty gritty numbers and the numbers are impressive (they’re big; always nice): Facebook referral traffic is up 48%; comments jumped to 2.2m from 1.7m in July (15% of HuffPo comments now come from Facebook); and Facebook referrals accounted for 3.5m up 190% percent from June and 500% from January.

 

Other titbits in the piece are on the international front. HuffPo still has no plans for international expansion outside of serving UK and other European users (the UK accounting for the biggest audiences outside of the US with 305,000 uniques) more appropriate ads, which it is doing via a deal with AdGent007.

“It’s not an international strategy, Almost every week some pretty big organization would like to partner with us,” Hippeau said.

Facebook Connect has been described as a game changer by some and the future of journalism by others (take all and digest with a pinch of salt – but not too much).

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