Facebook marketing isn’t only about what you say — it’s also about when and how you say it.
The key message from Buddy Media’s latest study, Strategies for Effective Wall Posts: A Timeline Analysis, is that brands aren’t taking full advantage of Facebook’s timeline. In the process, they’re missing opportunities to increase audience engagement.
Facebook’s new timeline, rolled out earlier this year, caused a major shift in strategy for brands. Marketers have experimented with design elements like cover images, private messages, and pinned posts, but they still don’t have a clear understanding of how to optimize fan interaction. Your fans interact with you in different ways — Likes (79% of all interactions), comments (15%), and shares (6%) — and each offers an important opportunity for conversation with your audience.
Facebook fans engage more on weekends.
The interaction rate for posts on weekends is 14.5% higher compared to weekday posts, but only 14% of posts are published on Saturdays and Sundays. Facebook fans like to use the social network when they have downtime, which is why weekend posts create more engagement. Posts on Monday and Tuesday get reasonable traction, but it’s best to avoid Wednesdays when fan engagement is 7.4% below average. The key here is to analyze your page’s historical performance, identify when your fans engage the most, and then post more frequently on those days (and less on the others).
Best days for timeline posts by industry
|Advertising and consulting||Weekend||69%|
|Clothing and fashion||Thursday||13%|
|Consumer packaged goods||Weekend and Wednesday||15%|
|Finance and banks||Sunday||29%|
|Food and beverage||Weekend||20%|
|Health and beauty||Sunday and Monday||12%|
|Sports||Saturday and Sunday||11%|
|Travel and leisure||Sunday||19|
Facebook users are nocturnal, so post when they’re online.
Brand posts published between 8:00pm and 7:00am receive 14% higher interaction than those that post between 8:00am and 7:00pm, which are defined as “busy hours”.
Post 1-2 times a day, and don’t post more than 7 times a week.
Brands that post 1-2 times per day see 19% higher interaction rates than those who post 3 or more times per day. But don’t bombard fans with too many posts, since Facebook’s newsfeed optimization often penalizes for this. Interaction rates are high among brands that post 7 times or less during the week — pages that post more than this see a 25% drop in interaction rates.
Your EdgeRank, Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm, determines which posts show up. Each one is judged on 3 different criteria:
- Affinity, or the closeness of the user to the brand (or person). This involves an analysis of the relationship based on such factors as the time spent on a particular brand page and the number of shared messages or comments. The more your audience interacts with you, the higher their affinity score for you will be.
- The weight of the content. This factor looks at how often a person interacts with your content and vice versa. Each time you visit a fan page, click the “Like” button, comment on a user’s status, or look at a picture, you increase the affinity score with that user. This makes it very important to have compelling content that people want to interact with.
- Recency, or time decay. Essentially a time stamp. The older the post is, the less important it becomes. Posting regularly is recommended to help this score, however it’s important to note that if you keep posting one after the other in a sort of “rapid fire” method, you’ll bring the relevance down and hurt your chances of being seen.
What to post
- Keep posts under 80 characters. They receive 23% more interaction than longer posts. More that 75% of brand posts are beyond this optimum length, which impacts interaction. It’s important to take time to figure out how to make posts concise in order to reap the benefits of increased interaction.
- Use photos. Interaction with photo posts are 39% higher than average. Status updates that contain only text still have interaction rates 12% higher than average. But posts with links or videos drive fewer likes, comments, and shares.
- Use long and shortened URLs. Because long URLs receive 16% higher interaction rates than shortened URLs, it’s helpful to display a URL which gives an indication of the link’s final destination — for example, http://www.shopshoes.com/boots lets a user know you’re directing them to a page that’s selling boots. Using shortened URLs, however, allows for easy link click tracking, which is critical to measuring success. So the best approach is to use a combination of both.
- Use specific calls to action to drive interaction.
- When fans are specifically asked to like a post, there is a 3x higher like rate than when they are not asked to like.
- When fans are asked to comment on a post, there is a 3.3x higher comment rate than when they aren’t.
- And when fans are asked to share a post, posts are shared at a rate 7x higher than those that don’t ask fans to share.
- Fans interact more with “winner”, “win” and “giveaway” keywords.
- The top 5 promotional keywords that result in high interaction are winner, win, giveaway, entry, and new.
- The 5 keywords with the lowest interaction are sweepstakes, coupon, % off, $ off, and clearance.
- Posts that use winner, win, and giveaway get 68%, 46%, and 42% higher interaction than average, respectively.
Here’s a cheat sheet to keep on hand as you work on your Facebook marketing strategy: