5 Painfully Obvious But Extremely Effective Facebook Tactics Nobody Told You About

5 Painfully Obvious But Extremely Effective Facebook Tactics Nobody Told You About
Sometimes, you just need to point out the obvious (Image Source)

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.

Facebook Engagement Tactics - Collage

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.

Facebook Engagement Tactics - Collage Choice
Click for full-size image

Leneys Facebook Engagement Tactics

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.

Facebook Engagement Tactics Self Explanatory Photos
Click for full-size image

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.

15 Epic Marketing Fails [Funny]

Facebook Engagement Tactics - Marketing Fail

3. Hashtags Are Cool If You Use Them Properly

Facebook Hashtag Fail

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.

EdgeRank Checker Hashtags Chart
(Image Source)

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.

Facebook Tactics Facepalm

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.

Facebook engagement tactics - share joy hashtag

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.

Not All Emoticons Are Created Equal

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.

Facebook engagement tactics questions
Click for full-size image

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.

— Stefanie Grieser

default author image
About Stefanie Grieser
As the 9th employee at Unbounce, Stefanie Grieser has gone from scrappy startup marketer to passionate, scale-up leader, heading up international markets, partnerships and events. She was named top 100 female marketers to follow and loves turning a good idea into an impactful, memorable experience. Find her on Twitter @smgrieser.
» More blog posts by Stefanie Grieser


  1. Smriti Chawla

    This is a great read, Stefanie! The Starbucks pic is #epic. :D

  2. Sam flatman

    Hoping we manage better than Sucks! Have to say, their down fall got me wanting a coffee…discuss!

  3. Mike

    Your guy’s white pages are epic. <3 unbounce! :D

  4. Jessica Zurik

    I can´t believe what happened to “Sucks”!!! LMAO…

  5. Lori Clinton

    This is great!!! Some of it kind of sounds like common sense when you read it, but I would not have thought of it. Thanks!!!!

  6. Luis

    Great post! To add on to any of these posts something that a lot of people forget is to continue to interact with the post and your community. If someone leaves a comment, acknowledge them and comment back if there are questions or you feel you should. Many times your own comments help your post and encourages others to interact with you and your brand.

  7. Susan Daniels

    Wonderful tips. Easy to understand and incorporate into my everyday social media marketing. I especially look forward to trying the “collage” tips. Thank you.

    Warmly, Susan Daniels

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Thank you for the kind words Susan. I can hardly take credit for the photo collage tactic. I saw Darren’s ProBlogger post and had to include it. #genius

  8. Michael Neuendorff

    Brilliant collection of gathered and native wisdom on what works. I’d like to add two tips that I’ve seen work for me and for a client. First from my client’s working Facebook daily for the past year or so. He takes time to acknowledge every person who Likes a post of his. Conventional wisdom says to only acknowledge Comments. I think his extraordinary action encourages the Likers to Like again and maybe even Comment next time because they know he’s fully on top of his Page.

    Second, is to get quick intelligence that a post is doing well with early action on Likes and Comments. You start to get a sense that a post is going to do well organically. At that point you can hit the Boost to turbo the post since you have some sense that it’s a winner. I think some people go about it the other way around. They plan to Boost a post right from the outset.

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Hi Michael.

      Interesting Facebook tips – thanks for sharing! On Twitter, people will often acknowledge others for a follow, a share or a retweet. This is replicating that same acknowledgement on Facebook. With marketing, pushing boundaries, experimenting & exploring strategies that challenge “conventional wisdom” is key. My only counterpoint is that this strategy isn’t scalable and is geared toward SMBs. Think of those community managers for large brands who get hundreds of thousands of likes! That would be a lot of acknowledgement.

      In regards to your second point, understanding your post is resonating well with your community organically will make your paid advertising more successful. Great point!

      Thanks again for sharing your Facebook tricks & tips!

  9. Jorge Jobs

    Expert Tactics the Social Media Pros Use to Get Real Results

  10. Centangle

    Great post Stefanie. We have seen that videos engage a great amount of users compared to images. A 30 days long experiment done by our team for a client suggests video is about 60% more effective! But ours is just one case. We are exploring more on this. Great reading your views.

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Will you be writing about this case study in a blog post? I would love to read more about the execution, the results and the details surrounding the experiment. Sounds super interesting!

  11. Graham Todd

    Great post Stefanie!

    Pictures and questions do work, and I totally agree that we all hear it and do it! Measuring Facebook engagement is not only key but now so much easier with the great new insights. Working out what works, what doesn’t work and what ‘sucks’ has to be a major part of your marketing strategy.

    This week our humble Facebook pages saw a rise in reach and engagement thanks to replicating what worked in the past. Simples ;)

    Todd @Warwicktweetup

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Thanks Graham! Glad to hear you enjoyed the post.

      Agreed – the new Facebook Insights is awesome. It’s much more clear and gives you some great intel allowing social marketers to make better & smarter decisions.

      -Stefanie @smgrieser

  12. Arbaz

    Great post Stefanie.
    This is something literally amazing.
    Facebook is a strong medium to engage with your audience and your customers but only a few people knows the right tactics to do that.
    This post literally brought up so many things like the emotions, who would’ve thought emotions can also play an important part in engaging the audience.
    Thanks for sharing the article with us :)

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Glad you enjoyed the post Arbaz. I think experimentation & analysis play a huge part in Facebook marketing. And like you pointed out – it’s all about the details. Emoticons, who would have thought? Cheers!

  13. Alex Monckton

    Great breakdown – especially like the differentiation of hashtags. Thanks!


    Stephanie very informative post. These are 5 great tips. I never really knew the best place to pose questions, so now I have it. All of your points are quite helpful, so thank you.

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Thanks Steven! Glad you found the post useful & informative. I have to give credit to Buddy Media for the research behind ‘where to place a question’. If you download their ebook entitled, Strategies for Effective Wall Posts: A Timeline Analysis’, there is more great insight backed with research.

  15. Ana Lucia Novak

    Well done Stefanie! I shared your post with my client which saved me time in having to explain things! ;)

  16. Kim Phillips

    Photo collages are fine for the desktop but on mobile (where about half of people now look at Facebook), they often become impossible to see, so people just scroll past. Much prefer one big, compelling image.

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Hey Kim! You make an excellent point. Mobile usage is increasing across the board. Knowing what will work well and how images appear on mobile is pretty important and will continue to be increasingly important.

  17. Jennifer

    Great tips! I have been trying to get more interaction with Facebook for my new business. Looks like I have some great tools to work with now.

  18. Jake Long

    A lot of really great and simple things to do. Not to mention, this article is very entertaining as well. Especially the Starbucks van. Needless to say, I’ll be referring to this post when I need a reminder of what I should always be doing with my facebook page. Thanks Stefanie.

    P.S. If I think of some other tactics, I’ll be sure to post them here.

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Hi Jake,
      Glad you found the post both entertaining and educational. The best of both worlds! Let me know how these tactics work for you and definitely report back if you discover some effective Facebook marketing tactics :)

  19. James Cheapfinder

    Great article, especially the tip of grouping pics together, will try this out as it looks very powerful in terms of engagement

  20. Mark Simko

    Thanks, there are some great ideas here that I had not considered. I’ll be recommending this article to others too.

  21. Lionel Dionne

    Very interesting!

    Got a few laughs while seeing the Starbucks truck. I was actually at Starbucks at the time I was reading this. Did you know that how you hold your Starbucks coffee cup, you get the same SUCKS if your finger is in front of TARB?

  22. Darren Rowse

    Just saw this – great write up and thanks for the mention.

    Collages are really hot for us – although I’ve found its best when we mix things up too. Collage, single image photos, diagrams, questions, links, challenges – I find if we cycle through them all that it helps a lot!

    Feel free to follow our experiments at https://www.facebook.com/digitalps

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Hi Darren, Thanks for stopping by & adding the additional insight. It was your post on Facebook engagement that actually sparked the post you see & read here. So thanks!

      Great point :) I agree – I, too, have found that switching up how you present your content will keep you fans interested and engaged.

  23. Amoreena

    Awesome article! Thank you! What will you post about next? ;D

  24. Jasmine

    Great article. I never realized that the placement of the question would make such a difference. Definitely something I’m going to try on my clients’ pages.

  25. Maciej Fita

    I think the image is probably one of the most important parts when leveraging a blog post in Facebook. I see some bad images come through my wall which almost never get clicked…from me at least.

  26. Scott

    It seems like your suggestions center around posting items with strong visual and emotional impact. That’s not unlike other media such as TV, movies and print. The hard part is being able to do it consistently. It’s even harder to get noticed with so many companies now chasing likes.

    • Stefanie Grieser

      It is truly hard to “stand above the rest” with so much noise on social media. The trick is finding what content appeals & resonates, visually & emotionally, with your audience day in and day out. And a companies tone & voice have a huge part in that.

  27. Marie W

    We’d really love to have permission to post this article on our ModernPractice.org blog: a blog for the dental community.
    There are thousands of dentists visiting Net32.com every day, and they’re always interested in reading articles that would help manage their small businesses. If you agree, please send me an author link to your Google+ or LinkedIn, plus any other instructions you may have for us. Thanks so much.

  28. Rod

    Thanks for the tips :D
    Your followers might want to know the significants of using @ at the beginning of a product.
    We use it frequently and ties to that specific products FB page.
    Try it out.

    • Stefanie Grieser

      Hi Rod. You’re more than welcome :)
      What exactly do you mean by using @ at the beginning of the product? Do you mean tagging other companies in a Facebook status?

  29. Shalin

    As you mentioned these are obvious things. but I highly doubt that these can bring much attention except that “picture talk more than 1000 words concept. Facebook has commercialized everything. Now your post will be only visible to 1/8 of your fans

  30. Perry Bernard

    Hi Stefanie, thanks for the great tips, especially in regards to the photo-collage. I had not thought of that! Amazing how sometimes the painfully obvious escapes you, as you’ve aptly pointed out. I will definitely be putting your tips into practice. I’ve been one of those in an ‘older’ generation that have avoided social media at the expense of business. Look at me… No longer avoiding it! :-)

  31. Stephen Rug

    Hi Stefanie, very interesting blog post I will certainly use these tactics on our facebook page. Thanks for the help

  32. makeonlineshop

    Once more, so interesting !


  33. Arthur Immanuel

    First, I would like to thank you for writing this article. I really like the painful statement. Not like many blogs out there that just try to convince the reader how to boost, how to get fast, etc. May be it’s not always about feeling the pain (wonder who want it), but I believe, effective likes and engagement could be reached only by the hard work, and continues good content. Bookmarked this! (2015 and I still read it, hahaha…)

  34. samirah

    great inf!! thanks

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    very nice and helpful article which will help me on work

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