Would you like to get more impressions with your Facebook posts and more Facebook Fans? Of course you do. The more people that see your messages, the more successful your social media marketing efforts will be for your business.
In order to maximize your exposure, you need to make sure that you are employing News Feed optimization.
Why is News Feed optimization so important? Check out these Facebook facts…
1) About 90% of Facebook fan page users DO NOT return to the brand’s actual page and only interact through their News Feed
2) Currently, 30 billion (with a “B”) pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month
News Feed optimization is a collection of strategies that enable you to maximize your chances of having your Facebook posts be seen by as many people as possible by getting it ranked higher. This increase in the number of impressions eventually translates into a broader reach and thus a growing fan base. To get you on your way, we need to explain the Facebook algorithm, EdgeRank.
When you access your Facebook profile you land on the News Feed. This is where you see posts (Facebook calls these “Objects”) from friends, family, companies you Liked, groups you are in, etc. It is the center of all your interactions with other Facebook users. On this page, there are two options to receive posts: “Top News” and “Most Recent” (the difference explained). (Update: At the end of Sept. 2011, Facebook changed the News Feed layout. The following tips still hold true, but please see my post on Facebook Changes for a description of the new layout) The default setting is “Top News” and while the exact percentage seems to be up for debate, I have seen stats that say only about 5% actually click over to “Most Recent”…with others having it at about 50%. Thus, for your company’s messages to be seen by more of your fans, you need to get your posts as high as possible in the “Top News”. This is where it gets tricky. The ranking of posts in “Top News” is based on a Facebook algorithm called EdgeRank. EdgeRank basically decides how many people see your posts.
While the exact algorithm is not known outside of Facebook HQ, it basically weights each post along the following criteria to give it a ranking…
1) Time Decay: How recent was the post published. The longer the time since the post, the lower the weight
2) Affinity: This represents the relationship between your customers and your business over time. The more a user interacts with you over the course of your “relationship” (likes a post, comments, views a picture, shares a link, etc.), the higher the affinity weight will be for that person
3) Action activity (weight): A post gets a higher weight the more fans engage with it (i.e. Like or comment). Furthermore a comment gets more weight than a Like because in Facebook’s eyes, it takes more effort. Thus, the more fans engage with a post, the higher it will appear in a user’s newsfeed
These 3 factors determine the likelihood that your content will gain exposure. It is important to point out that each fan will have a different EdgeRank score with a particular post.
With this knowledge in hand, we now turn to 7 posting strategies for increasing you fan page exposure…
#1 Generate Content That is Valuable to Your Customers
In developing your Facebook posts, make sure that you are crafting messages that your consumers will find valuable and/or elicits an emotional response. Remember that what you find valuable may not be valuable to your customers. You discover what content will be valuable by Listening to your customers, which is outlined as the first step to creating a successful social media campaign.
#2 Post New and Fresh Content
As a general rule, try to avoid recycling posts or messages. Fans connect with your company on social media for the latest information. Posting an out of date article or an item you have used before decreases chance for fan engagement. With that being said, there are cases where you can post the same content again, such as if it is significant and did not get the attention it deserved or your promoting a big event or product. Quick tip #1: try to piggy back off of breaking news or trending topics.
#3 Use Photos and Links
According to research, photos receive more engagement than any other type of post. An eye catching photo in the News Feed commands attention and stands out from the crowd. Video (or video links) also have that affect. Again, encourage action. Quick tip #2: photos have an added benefit of being the only type of post where you can edit the text after published. This comes in handy for mistakes or changes to text without losing all the comments and likes you have accumulated
#4 Ask a Question/Fill in the Blank
Since comments or likes drive EdgeRank, ask both brand and non-brand related questions that naturally elicit a response from your fanbase. Typically, a short question works well since user attention span is limited with all the incoming data there is today. Unless a simple status update is very significant, it most likely not get the response you need. These are also subtle ways to get your marketing message across without coming across as doing so. Also, you can create a short statement that asks people to complete the sentence.
#5 Structure Your Posts Properly
a) Studies show that posts with 80 characters or less tend to get higher engagement.
b) Avoid link shorteners (such as bitly or ow.ly) since Facebook penalizes those posts. However, these are fine for Twitter.
c) Try to avoid posting from 3rd party platforms such as Hootsuite & TweetDeck. Facebook penalizes these posts as well as groups (compresses) posts from the same client together so they may not be seen unless a user manually clicks to see all posts.
#6 Use Links
Links require an action on the post and increases engagement. Ideally, they drive traffic to your website, but can also highlight content of others is valuable to your audience. If you highlight and play nice with others, you will still see benefits down the road.
#7 Have a Contest
Having a contest allows your fans to generate interesting content for you, increases the EdgeRank and expands your reach to new users. However, be careful on how you administer these contests. Facebook has strict guidelines on how contests can be run on its platform so check out this article on Facebook promotions: what you need to know. Quick tip #3: use a 3rd party app like those from Wildfire to avoid any recourse.
As with any social media efforts, you need to analyze the results to determine what is best for you business. What posting strategies has your business employed to drive engagement and awareness? Please leave a comment.