On any given day, an average Facebook user’s news feed filters around 1,500 possible stories. But after Facebook’s news feed algorithm comes into play, only 20% of these stories actually land in your feed. In fact, I’ve heard that it’s easier to get into Harvard than into someone’s Facebook news feed!
You’ve read thousands of articles that tell you the same Facebook tactics. Use photos, they say. And be sure to ask questions. Oh – and post at an optimal time. Rinse & repeat and you’re on your way to being a social media superstar. Right?
If you work in the social space, you’ve heard these generic tactics time and time again.
Social media marketing is about the little details. This post isn’t telling you to post a photo or ask a question. It’s here to tell you to dig deeper, analyze and make small changes that can make a big impact. Below you will find a collection of data-driven Facebook engagement techniques that will help you cut through the noise of your fans’ busy Facebook feeds.
1. Yes, Image Posts Drive Engagement – But Choose Your Images Carefully
You’re probably thinking – you just told us this post isn’t going to be about driving engagement with photos. And it isn’t. Most of you know that images perform well on Facebook and have been leveraging image posts to drive engagement & click-throughs for quite some time. So we aren’t going to throw out a generic statement surrounded with some stats telling you to use photos.
You’re a smart marketer and you know images and larger images drive more engagement, but the real question is: which images, more specifically, can drive engagement?
Create A Photo Collage
Darren Rowse, Founder & Editor at ProBlogger and Digital Photography School found that ‘collage’ based images on Facebook perform well. He gathered several images from a blog post to create the image below and found it highly effective, reaching over 80,000 people.
Leneys, a women’s fashion apparel company, crafts together a photo collage and asks their fans to choose their favorite. They’ve been implementing this tactic for some time and seen amazing success & results in terms of engagement.
Make Your Image Speak for Itself
“Post pictures that are meaningful without having to read any text next to it.” – Leo Widrich, Buffer
In Buffer’s, Scientific Guide To Writing Great Headlines on Twitter, Facebook and Your Blog, Leo Widrich brings up a very good point that fits in with the underlying theme of this post: Telling someone to post photos isn’t helpful at all. However, discovering which images perform well and why will help you become a smarter social marketer and ultimately help drive engagement.
The team at Buffer discovered that posting a stand-alone, self-explanatory image outperforms a photo that needs additional explanation in the description. The image below demonstrates their findings. On the lefthand side, the image needs a caption to make sense, while the photo on the righthand side already tells the story.
2. Steal Ideas From Your Other Channels
Discovering what will perform well on Facebook can often be right in front of you. This is another tactic that seems very obvious, but it doesn’t get mentioned. Nobody says it out loud.
Here at Unbounce, our Epic Marketing Fail Post performed well in terms of Facebook social shares specifically, so we decided to implement a weekly Monday marketing fail series on Facebook.
If you have a blog post your audience is raving about on Facebook, try and turn it into a series on Facebook. Look at what performs well on your other social media channels and think of how you can incorporate it on Facebook. Maybe it’s a quote that you tweeted that received a lot of response, maybe it is a stat from an interesting industry study that was well received in your community. Oftentimes they can be turned into a weekly series or a monthly campaign.
3. Hashtags Are Cool If You Use Them Properly
Everyone is excited that hashtags have finally come to Facebook, but most people don’t get that they aren’t used in the same way as they are on Twitter. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to the cause entitled, ‘This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here.’
Simply Measured said it and a recent EdgeRank Checker study reported the same thing. Both studies found that Engagement per Facebook fan decreased with hashtags and Facebook posts with hashtags had less viral and organic reach, on average, than posts without hashtags.
On Twitter, hashtags act as a search tool helping users discovered content and shared interest which is aimed to increase the posts’ viral reach. And like we stated, on Facebook, users just aren’t treating hashtags the same way. Facebook users are the root of the problem as they are conditioned to scroll through their news feed to receive information versus search for information.
When you are using hashtags on Facebook, think carefully about what you are using them for and how you can use them. If your intent is to increase virality and reach, you might not receive the outcome you were hoping for.
Instead think of hashtags on Facebook as:
- a way to express an emotion or sentiment (somewhat like an emoticon, which we will talk about below)
- a campaign or contest which allows you to unify your posts, promote across different platforms and depending on the nature of the campaign or contest, has the ability to encourage users to share their own posts with the hashtag of the campaign
Cricbuzz, the fastest commentary website for major cricket matches, uses the hashtag #facepalm. You may or may not know a ton about cricket or the context of the post below, but the hashtag didn’t act as a search term in an attempt to increase reach & virility, rather it expressed an emotion.
The strongest and most common power of the Facebook hashtag is its ability to link cross-platform with a campaign or contest. With the #PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) campaign coming to an end, Starbucks just launched their #sharejoy red cup campaign. The campaign is present on multiple platforms, encourages people to hashtag #sharejoy with their red Starbucks cup and ultimately increases their brand.
4. Not All Emoticons Are Equal :D
According to AMEX OPEN, using emoticons increases comments by 33%. The fact they increase engagement makes sense since their very definition ties into and derives from social media. It seems silly, but these two, sometimes three character expressions have played a significant role in communication through technology.
Buddy Media says posts with emoticons receive 52% higher interaction rates and have a 57% higher like rate, 33% higher comment rate and 33% higher share rate. Emoticons, when used properly and sparingly, can be a great way to express your tone and humanize your brand.
And get this, not all emoticons are equal. This graph from Buddy Media shows the interaction rate across each emoticon with :D coming out on top.
5. If You Are Asking a Question, Ask it at the End
See what we did there ;) ?
According to KISSmetrics, questions receive 100% more comments than standard text posts. And you’ve most likely heard it before: when it comes to engagement, especially comments, asking a question on Facebook is very effective. But we aren’t here to tell you tactics you already know. It isn’t about asking a question. It’s about where to ask that question.
According to a research study by Buddy Media, if you are asking a question, where you place the question in the post is equally as important as what you are asking. Posing a question at the end of your post increases the interaction rate by 15% and will double the comment rate compared to those with a question asked in the middle of the post. A question that is placed at the end of a sentence is asking your Facebook fans to respond immediately. When you ask a question at the beginning or in the middle of your copy this distracts your fan from answering the question.
The example below, although hyperbolic, shows the engagement spike when you pose a question at the end of your Facebook description. So the next time you type a question in your Facebook description pay close attention to the placement of your question in your copy.
Does placing a question at the end of your sentence increase your engagement? What type of images does your community respond to? Which type of emoticon, if any, increases engagement? How do people use hashtags and how can you leverage them to make them more effective? The devil is in the details when it comes to Facebook marketing. Not all these tactics will work for you, but remember, it’s important to dig deeper, analyze and implement & experiment with small changes that can drive engagement and make a bigger impact.
Do you have any Facebook engagement tactics or insight? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.