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?
USER-GENERATED CONTENT (UGC)
UGC is hot. UGC is 20% more influential than another type of media with Millennial purchases. 93% 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.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE TIMING AND FREQUENCY OF YOUR POSTS
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.
USE FACEBOOK VIDEO
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.
HOST A CONTEST
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.
RUN FACEBOOK ADS
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.
HAVE FUN WITH IT
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.
CHECK YOUR ANALYTICS
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.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
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.