ESPN taps into power of Facebook ‘Like’ button for follow-ups and targeted distribution

October 15th, 2010 by Chris Hogg Leave a reply »

Photo by Prescott Pym

ESPN’s, the news site dedicated to all things related to cricket, has announced some new features for its audience that help news get to a targeted demographic easily.

Like countless other news sites, has been using the Facebook “Like” button to allow readers to express their interest in certain news stories.

The problem with a ubiquitous Like button is that it’s difficult to segment or target specific users based on their interests. For example, a reader may Like a story because it focuses on their favourite team, or because it’s about their favourite player, or because they hate the team that lost. Editors and social media managers have no real way of knowing what specific element of a story the reader liked, and there is no way to follow-up with that reader with supplementary news. That is changing, however, as the site announced new targeted “Like” buttons for specific parts of each story.

In a blog post, social media manager Will Luke announced the targeted “Like” buttons will allow to personalize news to offer stories to specific groups of people.

“If you actively decide that you like a particular player, or your favourite team, then we feel that’s a strong enough indication to us that you’re interested in hearing more about that person or country,” writes Luke. “So now, if you’ve already liked a certain individual on, you’ll receive any related stories which are published on the site, straight to your Facebook wall. It includes a summary of the story and a link, so you can go straight to it or share it with your friends.”

An example of what this looks like from

The ability to personalize news and deliver specific information to readers who have demonstrated an interest in the subject presents a new and potentially powerful way to distribute content.

Outside of just sports, any news organization can customize Like buttons to target specifics on their site. For example, someone who likes something in “Business” may be more likely to care about that subject than Arts, for example. What would be the purpose of pushing an Arts story out to all fans on Facebook if you know a segment of the population doesn’t care about that topic? Why not target?

The same can be done for niche topics or trending news topics, such as the Chilean mine rescue; a Like button on a topic page would allow a news organization to push out updates to people interested in that subject without pushing that content to just everyone on Facebook.

In the age of personalized news, the Like button gives readers the power to select topics or items they enjoy reading, while at the same time providing news organizations with the ability to target specific people who they know are interested in their content.

Cross-posted on Future of Media, Photo Courtesy Prescott Pym

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