By Priya Ramesh (@newpr)
Back in September, Facebook made some changes to its EdgeRank (Facebook algorithm to organize the massive amount of activity generated by people, pages and apps and to decide what stories to show whom), which reportedly decreased brand engagement levels to an all time low. The King of Social Networks also has been accused of trying to make it harder for brands to reach their fans only to make way for the “pay to promote” model with its new promoted posts offering. A good read here: http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/11/is-facebook-broken-on-purpose-to-sell-promoted-posts/. AdWeek captured the uproar from both PR and ad agencies on the new Facebook algorithm changes in this story http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/another-agency-claims-facebook-algorithm-changes-144405. With marketers and advertisers taking to blogs and online forums to express their anger over these frequent changes that make it harder for us to engage and reach our fans, Facebook finally responded with an official statement (below):
“We’re continuing to optimize News feed to show the posts that people are most likely to engage with, ensuring they see the most interesting stories. This aligns with our vision that all content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family.”
In my opinion, this is not necessarily a bad thing. The new changes force us to think creatively and engage smartly with our audiences versus just pushing out updates that don’t mean much to our fans. So why is it that some posts get hundreds of likes and comments while others fall flat? Salesforce.com’s Blueprint to a Perfect Facebook Post helps you take a step back and think through different elements of your posts from an engagement standpoint. Critical elements like: post length, use of imagery, use of color and linking can greatly influence the reach of your messages. The Salesforce.com Blueprint does a great job of breaking down all the key elements that come into play when you post an update especially on a business page:
Here are a few additional best practices to help you increase Facebook engagement:
Post Frequently: Create a weekly (flexible) calendar with the goal to post at least twice daily. A Facebook business page that is not constantly updated makes it less active. If you can’t do two post a day, at the least aim for two posts a week. Strike a balance between spamming and meaningful posts that provide value to your fans (new product offerings/discounts/Facebook exclusive offers).
Keep Posts Short and Simple: Research shows that short posts of 100 – 250 characters (two or three lines of text) get 60 percent more Likes, Comments, and Shares. Aim for short and sweet posts that include a link, an image or a question at the end to drive engagement.
Best Times to Post: Traffic peaks on Facebook in the mornings from 7-10 a.m. and again at night from 8-10 p.m. Also, Facebook traffic jumps during the weekends when more users are at home and browsing online to catch up on their friends on Facebook. User engagement with Facebook pages is highest between 9-10 p.m., particularly in the 18-24 demographic. Find your optimal time and try to post more frequently during the same time period to maximize engagement. This is probably a process that’s in constant experimentation as you test your posts and measure engagement levels. You can schedule your weekend posts if you don’t expect your page administrator to work during the weekend.
Ask More than Push Messages: Questions and post with the fill-up-the-blank technique generate 90 percent higher engagement than the average text post. Make weekly polls, asking relevant questions to obtain real-time feedback, a key part of your Facebook engagement strategy. You could start by asking your fans, “What would you like to hear from us?” and see what response you get to help you plan your content better.
Offer Exclusive Content on Your Facebook Page: Give your fans a strong reason to engage with you on your Facebook page versus the website or other online channels. Make exclusive content (download button to whitepapers, e-books, infographics, new survey data, etc.) available ONLY on your Facebook page so your customers are motivated to visit and spend more time with your brand on Facebook. Several B2B companies like HubSpot, Marketo and Salesforce provide exclusive content on their Facebook properties, while increasing their engagement levels through targeted content.
Leverage Page Post Ads: As we know, only 16 percent of your fans are seeing your posts so it’s worth testing out the “Page Post Ads” on specific posts to increase your reach and to also target a more specific audience. Ad Manager helps you use Page Post Ads.
Frequently Measure Engagement via Page Insights: I hope you are checking in your Facebook efforts on a weekly and monthly basis to see which posts received the most engagement. Facebook Insights is a free, robust tool. Use it to your advantage to repeat what works and re-assess posts that didn’t get much traction.
I am sure you agree, we have reached a point with social media marketing where you just cannot turn your back to Facebook. Now it is up to you to figure out an ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY that works in your favor so you are not completely hidden from your fans’ news feed but are fresh in their minds, in-case they search or talk about your products and services on Facebook. It’s the survival of the most engaged on Facebook.