Saturday, November 19, 2016


In the early days of social media, there was major focus on the number of fans you had, which lead to an onslaught of craziness where people thought it was a good idea to buy fans. (If you don’t know why that’s a bad thing – I talked about it in this post. There’s also a bit more detail about post timing and frequency there, too, which I cover briefly below.)
Now that Facebook is the number one most visited website and everyone is there, the competition is heavy. Simply having page likes isn’t enough to gauge a real return on investment, and that’s where engagement comes in.
What exactly is Facebook engagement? It’s the number of post likes, comments, and shares. It’s the action your fans take. They engage with you – which shows your brand’s ability to capture attention and connect with your content. But perhaps most importantly, Facebook uses your post engagement metrics to determine how much of your audience sees your post. One study shows that Facebook pages show a net 2.6% organic reach as of March 2015. Other data shows on average, Facebook organic reach is down 52% in 2016.
With all that out of the way – here are some ways you can boost your own Facebook engagement rate. Depending on your current level and niche, some methods may provide better results. Some may not be practical. You may decide to try something and find out it’s not for you. That’s okay. Do what works for your business.


If you want to hear from your fans – ask them something. Ask them anything. If you can relate to your brand, great, but it’s not always necessary. If nothing else, use questions to learn more about the audience you have – so you can tailor your content to them better.
Can’t think of anything to ask? Try these:
  • Are you a saver or a spender?
  • Would you rather stand or sit all day? Why?
  • If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
  • What’s your favorite way to relax?
  • What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone new?
  • Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert?
Beyond those types of questions, you can also use fill in the blank options like these:
  • When you think of [our brand], what’s the first word that comes to your mind?
  • The first [brand] product you purchased, I ever bought was….
  • My favorite thing about [industry/niche] is…
  • If I could be anything when I grow up, I’d be….
The options are nearly limitless, and you can plan them as far out as you need to fit your strategy needs.


If you’re asking questions and getting responses from your audience, then you need to show them you’re paying attention to what they have to say. If they don’t think you’re listening, then they don’t have any incentive to keep engaging with you.
If they have questions of their own, answer them. If they have creative responses, reply to them. Thank them for their time and for being a valuable part of your community.
42% of consumers who complain in social media expect the company to respond to them in 60 minutes. And 32% of consumers expect a response in 30 minutes or less. And what may come as a surprise is they still have these time expectations outside of normal business hours at night and weekends. What happens if you don’t respond?


UGC is hot. UGC is 20% more influential than another type of media with Millennial purchases93% of customers find UGC helpful when making purchasing decisions, and UGC gets 29% higher web conversions compared to campaigns or websites without it. Social media is built on sharing and building relationships. Share content from other people online that’s relevant and useful to your audience. This helps you stay in line with the 80/20 rule so your content doesn’t always toot its own horn, while staying in line with providing value to your audience.
To get UGC, you have to involve and interact with your fans. This can be difficult for those who are just starting out, but, these are strategies you can use to build a library of UGC to work from:
  • Ask your fans to upload photos around a certain theme.
  • Use photo/video uploads to host a contest or giveaway. Starbucks launched the “white cup” contest where customers were asked to doodle on a white cup to create a design that would be mass produced to create a product for coffee lovers. The contest was such a hit that it received nearly 4,000 entries in only three weeks.
  • Ask your audience to share photos/videos using your products/services. Fashion designer Marc Jacobs knew their customers would be taking selfies with their products. They hosted a casting call for their next advertising campaign through Twitter and Instagram, asking people to post their images using the hashtag #CastMeMarc. Within 24 hours, more than 15,000 entries were received.


Timing and frequency is everything. If you post too much, you risk turning your audience off. They’ll start ignoring you or may even unlike your page. If you don’t post enough, there’s the chance your fans won’t see it enough to engage at all, which will of course make visibility even harder.
There’s no hard rule about how often to post and when to post on Facebook. Clearly, it’s going to vary from niche to niche. However, several studies show guidelines you can use to get maximum Facebook engagement potential, with the best times to post being:
  • 12 to 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday
  • 3 to 4 pm on Wednesdays
  • 1 to 4 pm on Thursdays and Fridays
People use Facebook at home, and at work, on their desktops and on mobile devices. You’ll need to factor all of this in as you craft your strategy.
But what about the various time zones? How can I make sure I’m reaching everyone across the country without posting too much? 50% of people live in the eastern time zone, and when you add the central time zone, you’re covering 80% of the population, so you can stop stressing the time zone factor if you’re targeting a national audience.


Skip the stock photos and focus on real, candid photos. The old saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words” rings true across social media channels. Use images to tell stories about your company – culture, products, services, office space, customers, and more. Images tend to get more engagement, and as such will get more exposure in the newsfeed.
Plus, if you take a few seconds to brand your photos with your company’s logo, using a watermark tool, anyone who sees the image on Facebook will know it’s coming from you, so you can help foster more brand awareness.


YouTube is a popular video platform, and can help Facebook, but if you’re really looking to amp up your Facebook engagement rates, use Facebook’s native video platform. Even though YouTube is the second-largest social network, it doesn’t really help Facebook much.
Why go with Facebook’s native platform? One study showed that the native platform had two times more likes, three times more shares, twice the reach, and seven times more comments compared to hosting the same video on YouTube and posting it on Facebook.


Contests can help you increase engagement because they reward loyal fans, while also creating excitement to have them checking regularly to see if they’ve won. Platforms out there allow you to create a variety of types of contests, such as a vote to win for likes, and more challenging contests for more comments.
Take for instance Eggo, the well-known waffle brand. In 2013, they launched The Great Eggo Waffle Off. They launched a recipe contest, in partnership with ice cream brand, Bryers, inviting people to submit their best waffle recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, or dessert. Then, they invited their fans to vote for their favorite recipes. The winning recipe submission won a $5,000 prize.


Facebook ads can help boost engagement, if you need a starting ground to work from. You can choose a post engagement ad type, and then from there, choose from a photo, video, text post, or an Instagram post. Facebook will provide design recommendations for each of these formats, so you can optimize your ads for the best possible results.
The ads can give you a boost to get the Facebook engagement machine running in the first place. You don’t have to run the constantly until the end of time, because as your engagement grows and audience grows, the momentum you establish with ads should sustain itself, as long as you continue to foster the engagement with tactics like this.


Adding a call to action can help guide your audience. People like to be guided to action online, so if you want people to like the post, share the post, or comment on the post, tell them to do it. People are inundated with content everywhere, online and off. Studies show they only read 20-28% of the words in your posts, so being clear about the engagement you’re seeking is never a bad idea.


There’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation and a bit of fun. Showing your personality is one of the best ways to connect with your audience. If you’re just starting out and don’t really think your business has an established personality yet, think about what image you want to project to the audience, and then go from there. Post funny memes and ask random questions… it’s okay.


Unless you’ve literally just started your Facebook page, look at your analytics data. There you can see which posts have the most engagement, and the type of engagement. Look for patterns in that data. Are your most popular posts all similar topics? Were they posted at a similar time of day, or day of the week? Just because you have all this advice here to work from doesn’t mean it’s going to apply exactly.
Everyone has their own audience, their own value proposition, and their own niche. What works for one person isn’t going to work for another. Your analytics data gives you insight into your specific audience, so you know the best types of posts that work for optimal engagement, and you can learn the times that your audience is the most responsive. Then, you craft your Facebook engagement strategy based on the results.
That said, analytics data is in ebb and flow – and will change often. So, use it as a basis and be prepared to change a bit as the information changes. Then, add in the other tactics I’ve talked about here as appropriate.


Your business needs a social media strategy, of course, but an often overlooked part of that strategy is a Facebook engagement strategy. If you want to start getting more attention, it’s not going to do you any good to start publishing posts like crazy, and hoping for people to like, comment, and share. Create a plan for what you want to post, when you’re posting, and then outline the steps you’re taking to increase Facebook engagement.
What Facebook engagement methods are you finding the most effective for you? Were you surprised by any analytics data? Sound off in the comments.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Top Annoying Social Media Habits to Avoid

These days, having a stellar social presence is essential for online business growth, but simply creating profiles, getting followers, and posting whatever you want, whenever you want, isn’t enough to get there. There must be strategy, of course, but even when you operate within a strategy, there are a few things you can still get wrong. These are the top annoying social media habits I’ve seen brands committing regularly across social media – and I’m here to tell you to stop, right now. Even if you think you’re doing your brand some good, believe me, you’re not.


If there’s ever a place full of misinformation that looks real, it’s social media. Tons of memes are floating around with false data, contributing to the dumbing-down of our society. If you see anything you think may be worth sharing to your audience, do everyone a favor and fact check it first. One of the best places to check is Snopes – but you can always go to Google, too. If people figure out the falsehood of what you’ve posted, you’ve knocked your credibility down a notch, and possibly lost a follower or two… maybe more.


Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real thing online, and that’s why we see teenagers posting everything from what they ate for breakfast to the movie they’re watching right now. You may think that because you have to compete with everyone else out there, the best way to do that is to post all the time. But, if you fill your audience feed too much, they’ll start to ignore whatever it is you’re saying, or worse yet, unfollow you all together.
There are many studies on the best time to post on social media to guide your efforts. On Facebook, the data shows:
  • Sunday: 32% higher engagement
  • Thursday: 18% higher engagement
  • Friday: 18% higher engagement
  • Saturday: 32% higher engagement
  • 9 am
  • 1 pm: Get the most shares
  • 3 pm: Get the most clicks
On Twitter, however, it looks a bit different:
  • Wednesday is the best day to tweet.
  • The best times are 12 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, and 6 pm.
Posting on Wednesday and noon and between 5 and 6 pm is optimal, though to increase retweets and clickthroughs, you can also tweet right at noon and 3pm. You can safely experiment with 2-3 am, 6-7am, and 9-10 pm.
Use Pinterest? Take a look at this:
  • Sunday: Best for Food
  • Monday: Best for Fitness
  • Tuesday: Best for Gadgets
  • Wednesday: Best for Quotes
  • Thursday: Best for Outfits
  • Friday: Best for GIFs
  • Saturday: Best for Travel
The best times to in are 2 pm, 9 pm, and 2 am. Avoid Pinterest during work hours, and for best results, include a call to action, and try to match the best topics of the day.
The data for LinkedIn shows the best days to post are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The best times to post are between 7 and 8 am, noon, and 5 and 6pm.
The data for Google+ shows you should avoid posting in the early morning or late evening. The best time to post is between 9 am and 11am, or between noon and 1 pm, especially on Wednesdays. The majority of people there are lurkers and will not interact with what you post.
The data for Instagram shows people are engaged throughout the week, but Mondays and Thursday tend to get a bit more attention. Avoid posting between 3 and 4 pm on those days. Videos do best every day between the hours of 9 pm and 8 am. Generally speaking, the best times to post to Instagram are between 8 am and 9am, 2 am, and 5 pm.
Factoring in time zones sounds complex, but it doesn’t have to be. Half of Americans live in the eastern time zone, and when you add the central time zone, you’re accounting for 80% of the population.
So, now that we have the best times to post for optimum reach and exposure, that still doesn’t answer the question about how often you should post to your business accounts. And just like each network has ideal times, each network has ideal frequencies.
Conventional wisdom says you should post to Facebook twice a day, but this only works if you have a following of 10,000 or more. Posting twice a day with a smaller audience translates to 50% fewer clicks per post. Those with less can post one to five times a month and see clicks per post double.
In terms of Twitter, there’s no clear cut answer, because it depends on your goals, according to this study. If you want to want to get the best engagement from each tweet, then stick to one to five tweets per day, but if you want to get more responses overall, tweet as much as you want… with up to 50 times a day having no negative effect on your account.
For Instagram, it’s not the frequency, but the consistency that matters. You can start posting multiple times a day, even up to 15-20x a day on your account without negative effects, but setting that standard means you have to do it consistently. Changing to posting just a few times a week will translate to lost followers and less engagement for each post.
For Pinterest, post between four and 10 times a day to get maximum engagement, but some studies show pinning up to 30 times a day is okay for brands with lots of content.
And while we’re at it – let me take a second to say – don’t post to your social profiles apologizing for a lack of posts recently. It’s pointless – and because posting more often doesn’t really offer any benefit, just jump back in to posting regularly. Take time to curate some content and get it queued up and ready to go so you can avoid gaps in the future.


People don’t use social media to be sold to constantly. Yes, they use it to discover new products and services, but they want do so on their own terms. Constantly tooting your own horn will lead to followers ignoring you, or completely unfollowing you all together. Some self-promotion is okay, but focus on providing content that educates, entertains, and informs. “Interesting” content ranks as one of the top three reasons people choose to follow a brand on social media. If you’re creating interesting and useful content, getting that content in front of the right eyes, the rest will fall in line.
There’s no real hard and fast rule about how much of your social content should be about your brand, but the consensus seems to be to apply the 80/20 rule. This means only 20% of your social content should be about your brand, and the rest of it should be focused on building relationships with your followers.


The automated direct message on Twitter, to say “Thanks for the follow!” or “Check out my new…” may seem like a good idea to connect with followers who catch you when you’re offline, but really, it defeats the purpose of social media. Social media is a platform, regardless of which channel you use, to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to meet… on a personal level. The automated message approach is highly impersonal, and can turn off new followers.


Social media is fun to use among friends and family for your personal account, but it is fast becoming a powerful professional tool, and should be treated as such. It needs to be considered a conversation with a client you’ve known for a while. It’s okay to be conversational and casual, but don’t use that as a reason to be informal. You still want to show respect and leave an impression. TyPiNg Lik DiS, Or This, OR THIS, won’t do that.


If you see something trending, your instinct may to be jump on the train and get in on the action. After all, if it’s tending, thousands of people are talking about it, so you’d get massive exposure outside of your current audience, right? Before you jump on that hashtag, do some research.
What’s the hashtag really about? In 2014, well-known pizza brand, DiGiorno taught the world a valuable lesson about hopping on trends without doing due diligence first. The brand jumped on the “#WhyIStayed” hashtag, with what ended up being an offensive tweet. The hashtag was actually in response to Janay Rice’s decision to stay with NFL player Ray Rice, after he’d committed acts of domestic violence against her. Thousands of women used the hashtag to share their stories, and DiGornio didn’t take 10 seconds to figure out what the hashtag was about before tweeting. As soon as they realized their error, they deleted the tweet and began issuing apologies.
Is the hashtag relevant to your business? If not, skip the trend. You don’t need to waste time talking about anything and everything. It could confuse your audience, and especially any new or recent followers.


Okay, so this one should be dead obvious, and many of us know better. And yet, there are still countless services out there offering to get you likes and followers on any number of social media networks for a fee. It can be really tempting for an unsuspecting business owner to get a start that way, because they’re worried about having high numbers to make themselves look good.
The problem with this approach is – number one, these followers and fans are likely just spam accounts – up to 11.2% of Facebook accounts are. If they are actual user accounts, chances are they’re not targeted users, even if the service says they are. So, you end up with hundreds, if not thousands of followers who don’t give a flying hoot about what your business and what you have to offer.
Your business is far better served by 50 followers who are actively engaged in what you have to say and genuinely interested in your product – part of your target audience – than it is with 500 random people. Social isn’t a numbers game, no matter how much it looks like it. Quality over quantity is definitely true here.


Hashtags are used on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as a way to categorizing information, curating content, and ultimately, reach a specific audience. Two to four hashtags is best – two for twitter, and more for Instagram where the image could easily appeal to a wider audience. Keep it simple, and don’t make up crazy ones.


You think, “Hey, this is a good update for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, so I’ll just save time and sync them all to each platform automatically.” It sounds good in theory, but take the time to do it manually. Each network has its own style and the audience expects content to be delivered in a certain way. When you automate the process from one network to another – you’re sending the message that you’re lazy… and followers on all platforms see the same thing over and over.


When someone sends you a message on social media, don’t ignore it. Do what you can to respond as soon as possible. 32% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes, while 42% expect a response within an hour. Think that’s rough? 57% of them expect the same response time outside of normal business hours, including nights and weekends. If you need to, have a team of people who can respond quickly. It’s okay not to be on top of things all the time, but make sure to include response time into your schedule so your audience can see you’re paying attention. One study found failing to respond to customers on social channels can lead to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers.


Pay attention to your audience analytics on social media channels to see when your audience is most active. Use that data to determine the types of posts and topics they share and respond to the most. Focus less on how much you post, how many followers and fans you have, the hashtags you add to the content, and more on providing quality content, and responding to your audience. Remember your goals, and make sure everything you post fits into helping you accomplish them.
What other social media habits do you find annoying? Share them with me below.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock