Facebook so completely dwarfs its competition that it’s often hard to show the magnitude of its dominance.
The chart below, from comScore, is an example of this:
Having trouble finding Facebook in that chart? Don’t worry. It’s not you. Comscore didn’t include Facebook in the chart. Facebook’s audience penetration and engagement metrics would have been so far up and to the right that it would have skewed the chart and made it hard to read.
In other words, Facebook’s influence is so huge that it’s literally off the chart.
Let’s toss legibility aside, shall we? Let’s see how this chart would look if we included Facebook.
That’s the chart. Seriously. Facebook reaches 81% of the total digital population. It has 230 billion minutes of user engagement. It’s engagement metrics float like a high altitude weather balloon over all the other social media platforms.
I can see why comScore wanted to leave Facebook out of their chart. Adding it does skew the data.
But actually, I think you only see the real story here when you add Facebook to the chart.
But there’s something more important going on here. More significant than a data geek messing about with charts.
It’s about how you spend your time.
As you know, social media has a reputation for being a time-waster. One of the biggest ways it becomes a time waster is when people try to be on too many platforms at once. This dilutes your focus. It often ends up getting you far fewer results than if you had put all that time into one platform.
If you had to focus on just one platform, you’d do well to focus on Facebook.
Now, that isn’t going apply to every business. If you’re in B2B, LinkedIn may be the best place for you. By far. There’s all sorts of qualifications I could put on why Facebook might not be the best choice for you if you’re only going to be on one platform.
But boy, look at that chart again. Facebook gets the lion’s share of engagement. It also gets the lion’s share of shares, according to ShareThis’s Q1 2015 Consumer Sharing Trends Report.
The problem is getting that engagement, whether it’s shares, likes, comments or more clicks. As you know all too well, you can put a lot of work into Facebook and not get much engagement at all.
To help you get more out of your work, and maybe to see your own Facebook metrics start going “up and to the right” as the biz dev people like to say, here are ten tips for getting more engagement on Facebook. They’re almost entirely based on recent marketing studies. I’ve also included examples where I could.
1. Use images
Facebook gets more visual by the day. And while there’s an awful lot to talk about videos on Facebook, images still rule for engagement, at least according to most studies.
Adobe’s Digital Advertising Report, Q1 2015 puts images ahead of videos, and by quite a lot:
That’s also want Simply Measured found in their Q3 2014 Facebook Study:
Of course, there are a lot of different kinds of images on Facebook. There are quotes. There are stock photos with fancy text overlays. There are photos of real people doing real things (instead of models posing). There are product shots and, of course, cat photos.
Marya Jan wrote a great post a few months ago titled 17 Ways to Create Content that Drives Engagement on Facebook. It includes advice on creating images, but also has excellent ideas for written content too. Check it out for ideas on what kind of images to use with your Facebook status updates.
2. Upload your videos directly to Facebook
Don’t link to them from YouTube. It will crush how many views you get. One study found that natively uploaded Facebook videos got 52 times more views than YouTube videos.
We wrote a whole post about this earlier this year. There are several really cool things you can do with videos on Facebook now. It’s time you tried a few. We’ve had great success with adding an “About us” video, and with creating an entire section of videos on our Facebook page.
3. Write updates with 40 characters
According to SumAll and Buffer’s widely-shared infographic, “The Internet is a Zoo: The Ideal Length of Everything Online”, the magic character count for Facebook posts is 40 characters.
Here’s what a post with 46 characters looks like:
Here’s what one with 172 characters looks like:
Don’t get too obsessed with writing updates that are exactly 40 characters. Just know that a half of a line or less generally does better. Some studies have said either really short updates or really long updates do best.
4. Use nouns and verbs when you write your descriptions
Social media scientist Dan Zarrella found a correlation between using nouns and verbs in Facebook posts and getting more social shares. If that sounds obvious at first, remember that there’s also adverbs and adjectives.
Note that this won’t give you a huge lift – we’re talking 2%. But every bit helps.
Basically this is the old advice of writing teachers: Cut out the adverbs and adjectives to write more clearly and more powerfully. Another way to say that is, “Trim the fat”. You’ve only got 40 characters to work with anyways.
5. Add emoticons where appropriate
Sometimes, words don’t cut it. Only an emoticon will do. Emoticons also lend a little levity to your posts. And they’ve great for writing shorter updates. According to Super Spicy Media, emotions will get you more shares, comments and likes:
Use these with some sense, though. Add a wink emoticon when you’re kidding. Add a heart when you want to send a little extra love. And test. Everything depends on your audience. An emoticon the Holland Lop Rabbit Club adores may not go over so well with the East Texas Volunteer Firefighters Association.
6. Ask for people’s opinions
This can be something like “which book cover do you like best?” or asking people to respond to a poll. If you’ve got a large enough following, you could ask people to submit photos or tips for a chance to win a prize. Whatever it is, ask your audience for their input. People love to help and to give their opinion on social media. Make that work for you.
7. Use a call to action
Your audience needs to be prompted into action. You can’t just hope they’re psychic and will know what you want them to do. You have to ask.
A call to action makes that ask. It’s one of the most important elements of an effective Facebook update. It’s also what usually separates the marketers who are getting results (including engagement) from the marketers that are just posting streams of content no one ever sees.
How you phrase the call to action is especially important. TrackMaven learned that using the words “Share”, “Please” and “Like” in the call to action increased interactions by a third or more. Who wouldn’t want a third more results from just adding a simple phrase?
8. Post more often
This one seems obvious, but I have had too many awkward conversations with small business owners who tell me they get no engagement on Facebook, only to discover they post updates to their page about every week or so.
You need to post at least every other day, and ideally 1-2 times per day. People just won’t interact with a Facebook page that looks like a ghost town.
There’s data to prove this. It’s not as recent as I’d like, but LikeAlyzer’s 2013 study showed posting about twice a day earned the most likes. The like ratio fell way down when pages posted less than once a day, and then fell even lower if they were posting every three days or less.
9. Post at the right time
Big caveat before I say one more thing: The best time for you to post on Facebook will be different than what I’m about to tell you. You need to go look in your Facebook Insights reports to see when you’re getting the highest engagement rates.
That said, Baraa Hamodi over at Optimizely wrote a really nice post recently about how he determined when the best time for him to post was (it was around 5pm EST Monday through Thursday). Other studies have found 1-4pm is best.
10. Pay for it
This is the last thing most small business owners want to hear, but it does belong on this list. Kerry Butters wrote an excellent post about whether or not Facebook advertising is worth it earlier this year on this blog.
Her conclusion? Facebook advertising can be worth it, but you have to do it right. And you need to manage your expectations.
What do you think?
What are you doing to boost engagement on your Facebook page? Have you tried any of the tactics listed here and not gotten good results? We wanna know! So give us a shout out in the comments. Tell us what you think.