By Sarah Pierce
Having trouble engaging your Facebook audience?
If your fans are not interacting with your brand and sharing your content, what value are they?
In this article, you’ll discover how to get more likes, comments and shares. I’ll reveal five strategies for Facebook posts that get your fans buzzing.
#1: Keep Your Updates Short
Research repeatedly shows that the longer a post is, the less engagement it will receive.
Blame it on Twitter, but people don’t have the time or patience to read anything over 140 characters anymore.
Results vary, but research shows that 100 characters or fewer seems to be the sweet spot. This will also allow for easy cross-posting on Twitter.
Posts with fewer than 140 characters combined with bold, beautiful photos get the most response.
According to Facebook, posts that include a photo album, picture or video generate about 180%, 120% and 100% more engagement, respectively.
Starbucks is a great example of a brand combining short posts with beautiful photos. Their posts generally fall within the 100- to 140-character mark and elicit thousands of likes and comments.
#2: Don’t Use URL Shorteners
A recent study by Buddy Media found that engagement rates were three times higher for Facebook posts that use a full-length URL, rather than a link generated by a URL shortener like bit.ly.
Converse fans may have liked this post, but how many actually clicked on the link? Generic bit.ly URLs are less likely to drive traffic to your site.
Why is this?
The likely explanation is that Facebook users want to know where you’re taking them. This makes even more sense considering the fact that Facebook users are increasingly accessing the social network exclusively from their mobile devices (20%, or 102 million and growing).
A shortened URL does not indicate what type of website you’re taking them to, which is a deterrent to mobile users.
But didn’t we just learn that longer posts have lower engagement? Yes, but a URL doesn’t seem to count in this instance.
If you’re worried about post length, use a brand-specific URL shortener that lets users know you’re taking them to your website.
For example, Victoria’s Secret uses http://i.victoria.com/wSl instead of this crazy-long link: http://www.victoriassecret.com/shoes/whats-new/studded-suede-pump-betsey-johnson?ProductID=68804&CatalogueType=OLS&cm_mmc=fb-_-stores-_-status-_-suedpump090512.
Get more clicks by using a brand-specific URL shortener. Fans want to know where you’re taking them.
#3: Post at Times Ideal for Your Fans
Getting your post at the top of fans’ newsfeeds is paramount for engagement. So how do you do this?
For one, make sure you post at the right times.
Recent data from bit.ly shows that the optimal time to post on Facebook is between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, when Facebook traffic peaks.
Links posted between 1 and 4 pm get the highest click-through rates, with Wednesday at 3:00 pm being the best time to post all week. Links posted before 8:00 am and after 8:00 pm are less likely to get shared.
Another thing to consider is the TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) factor. As office burnout peaks toward the end of the week, more people will be escaping to Facebook.
Engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursday and Friday than other days of the week, according to Buddy Media. Engagement rates fall 3.5% below average for posts Monday through Wednesday, when people are more focused at work.
If your goal is likes, not comments, Dan Zarrella of HubSpot found that Saturday and Sunday posts get the most likes.
Don’t forget about the weekend. Saturday and Sunday posts get the most likes.
Finally, make sure you post enough content to stay visible in the newsfeedwithout annoying your fans. The key to walking this fine line is to know your posts’ lifespan.
The average Facebook post lifespan is 3 hours, although this varies by page.
A post is considered “alive” when it’s occupying the newsfeed or is a Highlighted Story and receiving a continuous stream of engagement.
A post is considered “dead” when its engagement stops growing more than 10% per hour.
Never post while another post is alive or you risk losing engagement.
How do you find your average post lifespan? EdgeRank Checker Pro analyzes your post engagement on an hourly basis (found in the Post Grading section at the bottom of your page analysis).
EdgeRank Checker Pro lets you know your average post lifespan and the best time to post again.
It also tells you the best time to post again. Once engagement has fallen below 10%, your post is considered dead and it’s safe to post new content.
If your average post lifespan is 3 hours, then wait at least that long before posting again.
#4: Use the Right Words for Higher Engagement
What you say—or don’t say—on Facebook matters. Certain words elicit more engagement, while others will leave your post dead in the water.
Buddy Media found that action keywords like “post,” “comment,” “take,” “submit,” “like” or “tell us” are the most effective. Be direct in your request, and fans will listen.
Want your fans to do something? Tell them! Fans respond well to specific instructions.
On the other hand, if you’re running a contest, sweepstakes or other promotional offer, fans don’t respond well to direct or aggressive language.
Softer-sell keywords such as “winner,” “win,” “winning” and “events” will make fans excited rather than feeling like they’re being sold to.
Aggressive promotional keywords like “contest,” “promotion,” “sweepstakes” and “coupon” will turn them off.
#5: Ask Questions
Asking a question is a surefire way to elicit comments, but not all questions are created equal. How and where you ask a question matters.
Place questions at the end of posts to increase engagement.
Questions placed at the end of a post increased engagement by 15% over questions placed at the beginning.
“Where,” “when” and “should” drive the highest engagement rates, with “would” generating the most likes. Avoid asking “why” questions, which have the lowest like and comment rates.
Beauty retailer Sephora has mastered the art of when to use action keywords, promotional keywords and questions to get fans engaged.
This Facebook post generated 38,028 likes, 2,188 comments and 4,778 shares.
Combining action keywords like “shop” with soft-sell keywords like “score” will encourage fans to take action. End your post with a question to get 15% more engagement.
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