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Six Ways to Make Your Facebook Posts Succeed - iCrossing

Six Ways to Make Your Facebook Posts Succeed - iCrossing

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Published by iCrossing
It's time for brands on Facebook to face a stark reality: your posts aren't engaging fans. Facebook is bulging at the seams with more than 41 million brand pages. But iCrossing research shows that the median number of "likes" for posts on a brand page wall is zero. Brands that want to engage audiences should publish posts with compelling calls to action.
It's time for brands on Facebook to face a stark reality: your posts aren't engaging fans. Facebook is bulging at the seams with more than 41 million brand pages. But iCrossing research shows that the median number of "likes" for posts on a brand page wall is zero. Brands that want to engage audiences should publish posts with compelling calls to action.

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Published by: iCrossing on Oct 11, 2012
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09/13/2013

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SIX WAYS TO MAKE YOUR FACEBOOK POSTS SUCCEED

by Stan Pugsley, Senior Director, Business Intelligence, iCrossing

ICROSSING POV:

It's time for brands on Facebook to face a stark reality: your posts aren't engaging fans. Facebook is bulging at the seams with more than 41 million brand pages. But iCrossing research shows that the median number of "likes" for posts on a brand page wall is zero. Brands that want to engage audiences should publish posts with compelling calls to action.
Last year, the iCrossing analytics team began an ambitious research project to track all of the activity on the brand pages for Fortune 500 companies. Many of those companies had multiple pages; some had none. Then we waited while the data rolled in from August 2011 to August 2012. Five million posts later, we have begun to understand, from a data perspective, some of the factors that drive engagement. There is no single set of guidelines for engagement that will apply to all brands. And there is no universal formula for virality. Brands will find best results by understanding their distinct audiences, finding their unique voice, tapping into hot trends, and creating high-quality, creative content. Our findings can be used to help smooth the rough edges or increase engagement at the margins but will not replace a good content strategy.

1. A CALL TO ACTION GETS MORE ACTION
We found that posts that contain questions or that request input get 70 percent more comments than those that don’t specifically ask for input. Posts that contain the word "like" get 240 percent more likes than those that do not. The trend holds true across nearly all accounts.

SIX WAYS TO MAKE YOUR FACEBOOK POSTS SUCCEED

OCTOBER 2012

2. QUESTIONS SHOULD BE SIMPLE AND BRIEF
Brief questions (less than 144 characters) get 129 percent more comments than lengthier ones. If your question won't fit in a Tweet, it doesn’t belong on Facebook either! Posts with more than one question generate 37 percent fewer comments than single questions. Questions followed by a link get normal response rates, but links followed by a question seem to confuse people and get 60 percent fewer comments.

3. ASK FOR SIMPLE, ONE-WORD RESPONSES
Interestingly, the best types of posts for getting comments are the ones that ask readers to literally fill in the blank (e.g., "My favorite flower is____)." Posts with a fill-in-the-blank request receive 370 percent more comments than simple questions with a question mark.

Questions phrased in the form of "this or that", as in "paper or plastic?" received 18 percent more comments than normal questions, but were still far behind the underscores. But be mindful not to patronize your audience. In cases where the post spelled out specific instructions to "Fill in the blank: I like this____," the number of comments decreased by 22 percent over posts phrased with a simple request like "I like this____."

4. PINNING IMPROVES ENGAGEMENT
We don’t have hard numbers on the exact lift that pinned posts received, but our anecdotal observations all showed a big improvement in number of likes and comments. All posts cannot be pinned. So selecting the right post is an important decision in a weekly content strategy.

© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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SIX WAYS TO MAKE YOUR FACEBOOK POSTS SUCCEED

OCTOBER 2012

5. REMEMBER THE WATER COOLER PRINCIPLE
After visually reviewing thousands of successful posts, we noticed that a casual, conversational tone was much more engaging than a formal tone. We call it the “water cooler” principle, meaning that there are some tones of voice and topic that will encourage conversation at the office water cooler and others that will drive coworkers away. Hard-sell, condescending, or overtly business-oriented posts consistently performed poorly. Facebook users expect to interact with friends; brands that don’t act like friends will be defriended. Although questions should be kept short, there is no magic length for generating engagement on other types of text posts. We see a peak in engagement on very simple posts with 20 characters or less (usually associated with a photo) and steady amount of engagement for post lengths up to 144 characters, after which interest slowly declines with length. But there are hundreds of examples of highly engaging narrative posts with 500 characters or more. If there is a great story to tell, Facebook can at times make a good alternative to a blog post.

6. INVEST IN GREAT IMAGES
Perhaps the most important aspect of the posts with high engagement couldn’t be found in a statistical analysis. When we visually reviewed top posts we found rich, striking images accompanied by very brief comments or questions. Images are able to tell a story more quickly than text and have a better chance of capturing attention as Facebook users scroll wall content. In future months, we will continue to sift through the data looking for new insights on engagement and post new ideas on this blog. But if you have a favorite observation about what drives engagement, please let us know. The best way to encourage engagement with an audience is ________.

STAY CONNECTED
Find out more at www.icrossing.com Call us toll-free at 866.620.3780 Follow us on twitter @icrossing and @thecontentlab Become a fan at facebook.com/icrossing

A special thanks to our summer interns, Albert Lyu and Steve Shelley, for their contributions.

© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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