Monday, 21 March 2016

10 Ways Marketers Can Increase Facebook Engagement

Facebook Engagement-01

With over 1.04 billion daily users and 40% of small businesses in the US, Facebook is a major piece of the social media marketing puzzle for most companies. For a long time, brands saw a lot of success on Facebook and were able to reach their target audience fairly easily. More importantly, they were able to do it organically (without using paid ads). But that all changed in 2014-2015 when business pages started seeing significantly less organic reach for their posts.

After the shift, business owners and marketers were left confused, frustrated and lost. What was once a huge traffic generator and branding tool was starting to look like a pay-to-play platform.

How Lower Organic Reach Impacted Facebook Engagement

One of the factors that determines what shows up in a user’s Facebook News Feed is the engagement a post receives. When a post has a lot of comments, shares and likes, it signals Facebook that users who have liked that page, would probably be interested in that content. This makes it all the more likely to show up in a fan’s News Feed.

The problem is it’s harder to get those likes, comments and shares when your posts aren’t being seen by a large portion of your audience. It’s kind of a catch-22. You need engagement to show up in your fans’ News Feed, but you need to show up in their News Feed to get the engagement.

Luckily, there are still ways to reach your audience and boost your Facebook engagement, despite the changes to the News Feed. Give these 10 tactics a try to start getting more likes, comments, clicks and shares on your Facebook posts.

1. Post at the Right Time (Hint: It’s Not When You Think)

Organic reach may have been reduced, but it’s not gone. One of the reasons Facebook changed the way content is displayed in News Feeds is due to the growing amount of content being published. As more brands and people started joining Facebook, the number of posts went up as well. That creates a lot of competition.

The trick is to post when engagement is the highest, not necessarily when the most users are logged in. Although most people tend to check their Facebook during the day time, the most engagement happens at night. Buzzsumo found posts published between 10 p.m. and midnight (local time) receive the most engagement.

best time to post on facebook

As you can see, the peak time for posting is around 11 a.m. However, that’s also when engagement is the lowest, most likely because News Feeds become inundated with so many new posts that people just skim through. But at night time, there are fewer posts being made so users have more time to go through and engage with each post.

It’s a good idea to schedule your Facebook posts ahead of time to be more efficient. Test different times between the most engaging hours to find out what works best for your company.

2. Share Content Your Fans Want to See, Not Just What You Want Them to See

If you want people to engage with your Facebook posts, you need to share content they want to see. Oftentimes, businesses assume just because they’re in a certain industry, all of the content has to be directly related to that field. For instance, a sandwich shop might stick to posting content only about sandwiches, deals they’re having and company news. The problem is that most people don’t want to read about sandwiches every day, so they’re less likely to engage with your Facebook posts.

In order to balance it out, broaden the type of content you share. A sandwich shop could post recipes, nutrition tips and other content that’s not necessarily about sandwiches, but also isn’t so unrelated that it seems out of place. A sandwich shop posting about online marketing wouldn’t make much sense.

3. Look at Your Posts That Have Gotten Engagement in the Past

Why try to completely reinvent the wheel? Sometimes the best way to get additional Facebook engagement is to publish more of the same type of content that you’ve had success with in the past. You can find your most engaging posts using Sprout’s Facebook Reports.

Facebook Analytics Reports

After you’ve identified the strongest performing content, all you have to do is double down and start creating more like it.

4. Use Real-Life Photos

As annoyed as we all say we are with people posting pictures every time they go to Starbucks, the fact is we’re still looking. On Facebook, photographs are the most engaging type of content you can share. Photos make up 75% of the posts on Facebook and account for 87% of the content shared on the platform, Social Media Examiner reported.

Facebook Photo Engagement

When you look around on most business pages, you’ll see a stream of stock images, rather than original pictures. Instead of relying on generic photos, use your phone or camera to take some real pictures. Posts containing original photos feel more personal and organic.

Another great tip to add more photos is to send your Instagram photos to Facebook. Go into your settings on Instagram and connect your Facebook account. Then when you take a photo, just tap on the Facebook icon to automatically share your pictures.

instagram to facebook example

5. Reply to People

You’re putting a lot of effort into getting people to engage with your posts. But once someone actually takes the time to leave a comment, are you ignoring them? Don’t just make a post and move on. You should check your comments throughout the day so that you can reply as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the less likely the conversation is to continue.

Sure, you’ll have the occasional troll that’s just posting a comment to get attention. But most of the people who leave comments for your posts do it because they resonated with what you published. Make them feel heard and appreciated, and they’ll be more willing to engage with your future posts as well.

6. Create Blog Posts Specifically for Facebook (Share-Worthy Content)

Although photos get the most engagement on Facebook, links have more reach. To take advantage of this, and to bring more traffic to your site from Facebook, start creating content on your company blog specifically for Facebook.

If you already have a fairly active Facebook page that gets some engagement, you can refer back to the technique mentioned in the second tip. Just look at the most engaging links you’ve shared, and create similar content of your own.

However, if you’re starting from scratch or don’t have enough data from your own Facebook page to see what your audience likes the most, here’s another option:

Do a search in BuzzSumo for keywords you’d like to write about and look at content about the topic that has been highly shared on Facebook. You could even plug in the URL for one of your competitors and see which pages on their site have the most Facebook shares.

Find Posts With Facebook Shares

Generally, list posts and articles that spark curiosity perform well on Facebook. In the example above, the post with the most shares is a list post. The one directly beneath it makes you curious because you want to know how in the world anyone could shop for a week’s worth of food for only $50 at Whole Foods.

A good tip is to think of a topic or headline that would grab your target reader’s attention if it were on a magazine cover while waiting in line at the grocery store. If it passes that test, you’re on the right track.

Lastly, make sure you include an attention-grabbing photo that’s sized for Facebook. You can easily crop, resize and scale all your Facebook photos to fit perfectly on the page with Sprout Social’s newest tool, Landscape.

landscape facebook banner

7. Ask People To Engage

If you’re specifically after more Facebook engagement, make it clear within your content that you want users to like and share your post. Try to get in the habit of ending every blog post you publish with some sort of call to action. It’s not going to make everyone hit the Facebook share button, but it’s a good reminder.

Think about it–people are hammered with content on social media, blogs, television, podcasts and every other platform you can think of on a daily basis. We’re in a state of content overload.

With all of this content, most people don’t have the time or desire to finish an entire article. On average, a person will read 20-28% of the words in your post.

percent of text read

It’s safe to assume those loyal few readers that took the time to read your entire post are engaged and interested in the content. This is the best time to ask them to take action.

8. Use Facebook Video

Sorry YouTube, but even as the second-largest social network, this channel doesn’t mean much for Facebook marketing. After watching the undeniable takeover of video content, Facebook decided to dedicate a lot of time and resources into its own native video platform. As a result, Facebook tends to favor direct video uploads over videos embedded from YouTube and other third party video sites.

In one study on the engagement of Facebook native video vs. YouTube videos published on Facebook, the winner was clear. Native Facebook videos received:

  • Two times more comments
  • Three times more shares
  • Seven times more comments
  • Two times more reach

facebook native video vs youtube engagement

If you’re not using Facebook videos yet, or haven’t being seeing much success, make sure you read this article.

9. Shorten Your Posts

Don’t turn your Facebook page into the company blog. People don’t go on Facebook to read long form content. Make your posts short and sweet.

Facebook posts between 0-50 characters long receive the most engagement. The more characters you add after that, the less engagement you can expect.

Optimal Facebook Post Length

In order to cut down on the length of your Facebook posts, leave out unnecessary details, or information that needs to be expounded upon. Treat your posts like headlines. Use them to pull people in and entice them to click through to your website to read the full story.

10. Create a Facebook Engagement Strategy

Last but certainly not least, you need to have a Facebook engagement strategy in place if you want to start getting more attention. Wildly publishing posts, crossing your fingers and hoping someone leaves a comments or shares it isn’t effective or efficient.

Outline what you want to post, when you’re going to post it and the steps you’re going to take to get more engagement.

Down but Not Out

Organic reach on Facebook might be down, but that doesn’t mean you should count the social media platform out. There are still over a billion people logging in every day, which gives you plenty of opportunities to reach your audience and potential customers.

Make sure you have the right Facebook management tools in place and then you can put these 10 tactics into action to boost your Facebook engagement and increase your reach.

This post 10 Ways Marketers Can Increase Facebook Engagement originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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