A good Facebook post is like a work of art. It’s like a great meal or a stunning piece of architecture; perfectly formulated to not only meet the needs of the community, but also spark the imagination. But just like great chef or architect, a social media manager has to endure a few misses before they can hit on the recipe for success.
All this might seem a little too fanciful and poetic for a social media platform. It is Facebook, after all, a place where memes rule and pictures of your friend’s dog manages to get 98 likes. However, if you pay attention to a few details, the random nature of Facebook engagement becomes a little clearer for those using the platform as a marketing tool.
Although there’s no scientific formula for success on Facebook, by utilizing certain data points, your small business, association or non-profit can turn your plodding, unmotivated posts into fit, focused messages that have the potential to win the hearts of your audience.
Stat #1- Length of Post
Unlike Twitter, Facebook has no maximum character count, which could leave you curled up under your desk, rocking back and forth, worried about what to do with so much freedom. Fortunately, there’s a way to give yourself a framework for the most effective length of post (LOP) on Facebook, just as long as you have some previous posts to look back on.
The first step in putting together a LOP framework is to determine which Facebook Insights matter the most to your organization. The data we usually work with to determine the impact of our efforts is reach and interactions (likes, comments, shares and clicks). These numbers tell you how much awareness is being generated by your post and how valuable your audience is finding the content you post. The insights you track should be based on the goal you’re trying to achieve. For example, if your organization wants to reach a lot of people, it might focus on reach and shares.
Now that you have determined the insights to analyze, the next step is to look back on the success of your previous posts. Pick the top-performing posts from among the month’s, quarter’s or year’s posts (perhaps those in the top 25%) by looking at the performance indicators you have chosen (such as total reach).
The final step is to determine the average LOP from those top-performing posts. For example, if posts averaging 100-125 words gain more reach than those posts with 50-75 words, there’s higher likelihood that future messages containing 100-125 words will achieve similar success.
Stat #2- Content of Post
Now that you know how long your post should be, it might be a good idea to figure out what you’re going to squeeze into your word count. The content of your post is the most important factor in drawing engagement and increasing Facebook’s ROI for your organization. If people don’t like how a home is decorated, they’re less likely to buy the house. The same concept goes for Facebook posts; if the content of your message doesn’t catch the eyes of your audience, no one will interact with it.
The first step in finding the content construction with the highest potential is already done for you, thanks to your work on the most effective length of post. You know your Facebook page’s top-performing posts and now you must determine what content they have in common.
First thing’s first, how are these top-performing posts written? Look to see if there are jokes in many of them or questions or a story. This will help you figure out if your audience reacts to a certain style of writing that sticks out amongst all the posts on their timeline. For example, if your association’s members engage more with a post that tells a story about another member, you can assume that using a storytelling bent to your posts will be more likely to yield favourable results in the future.
The next element to be aware of is the inclusion of media in your top-performing posts. If you see that eight of your top 10 posts have photos included in them while the posts that didn’t perform so great were without visuals, you can deduce that using pictures, infographics or videos will help your organization gain more engagement and increase its reach.
Stat #3- Timing of Post
If a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one around to hear it, there is a noise (because science), but the same cannot be said for a Facebook post. If no one is on Facebook when you send out a message on your organization’s wall, it is not going to receive its full potential for engagement or reach. That is why you need to determine the best timing for your posts.
The process of determining the best time to post to Facebook is a little less work than the previous two exercises. There is a tool on Facebook Insights that allows you to see when the peak usage times are for your page’s followers. This tool lets you see the most effective date and time for your posts, including a day-to-day look at which hours see the most traffic hit Facebook.
With this information in your back pocket, it’s now time to determine the timing of your posts. If your organization only posts three times a week, analyze which days more of your followers are on Facebook. For example, if Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are higher traffic days, post on those days as there is a higher chance of your message being seen.
The next step is to establish which hours on those specific days are best for posting. The same tool that told you which days offer peak usage will also help you determine the hours during which the greatest amount of your followers are on Facebook. If you see that the activity of your followers peaks at 10 am on Monday, take a note of this trend and start posting between 9:50 and 10:50 on Mondays, instead of at noon on Mondays.
Although there is no magic formula to increase engagement on or the reach of your Facebook posts, there is a way that you can increase the likelihood of this happening. By analyzing the three statistics above, you can construct Facebook posts that have the potential to increase the impact of your social media strategy and the ROI you are gaining from your efforts.