Here we are, two months into 2015…is it the future yet? On one hand, still no flying cars. On the other, we talk to people directly through screens we hold in our hands! Every now and then, in the middle of a Skype session, I start to feel like I’m on the Jetsons.
This post is all about how to deal with the future happening right now…specifically with regard to Facebook.
We all know that Facebook changes rapidly. It’s changing all the time. Just a few years ago, Facebook engagement looked very different. And maybe you’ve started to feel frustrated by the changes, or have just given up keeping track of them.
I get where you’re coming from, with that. It can be daunting to keep up with Facebook’s constant changing of its own rules. But Facebook is still a valuable place for you to gain traction for your business. That’s why my mission for you in this post is to help you understand what’s working right now on Facebook, and how to make it work to your advantage.
First, I want to tell you about the free download I have for this week. I’ve collected 20 different posts from all over Facebook that I’ve seen capture maximum engagement–not just views, but likes, comments, and shares.
On this free cheat sheet, I explain in a few words just what is so engaging about each post. Download this cheat sheet for free and use these posts as rough guides for creating your own super-engaging Facebook content.
The Facebook Definition of Engagement
Facebook (or FB, as the kids call it) defines engagement in one way and one way only: fingers clicking specific buttons. If a fan doesn’t engage with your post in at least one of four ways—like it, leave a comment, share it with others, or click on a link—it’s not considered engagement by Facebook standards. Period. So what does non-engagement look like? Here are things that your Facebook fans may be doing that do not count as FB engagement:
- Read your update. Kind of makes you rethink how much time you spend crafting the perfect status, doesn’t it?
- View your image. Photos, infographics, inspirational quotes, etc. are great ways to grab attention, but simply having them seen does not constitute engagement.
- Click on a photo. If your photo is not linked (via OpenGraph or some other plug-in) to a specific site, all that will happen is that the photo will open in a bigger window. That’s an opportunity to giving your reader yet another chance to engage…but in itself, FB doesn’t count it as fan engagement.
- Like your page. You heard right. People liking your page doesn’t affect engagement; it only counts when they like specific posts,
Engagement from a Purely Relational Perspective
That’s how Facebook sees engagement; let’s explore what engagement might mean to you. When someone interacts with the content you have posted, they are expressing interest in you. That means your WHY, your meaning, your purpose. What do you do, and how do you do it?
Don’t sell yourself short. Your why and how are powerful stuff to people out there. Knowing about you is reward in itself.
If you are message driven, sharing what you care about in a true attempt to educate, entertain, or inspire people, and those people communicate back to you or push it out to the world… that is a reflection that you are doing something right!
So Why Does Engagement Matter?
This is where mindset enters the picture. Mindset is what will connect the dots for you between fan engagement (likes, comments, shares, and clicks) and exposure to your business (such as getting your posts into your tribe’s News Feed).
The equation is simple: Boost your engagement (likes, comments, shares, & clicks) and get rewarded.
See, the more often your fans engage with you in the ways listed above, the more often your posts will be pushed out into their News Feed. This is how Facebook helps your business–by noticing that people are interested in what you have to say, and giving them more. Therefore, in each and every status update you post, you’ll want to influence your audience to engage in at least one of the four ways that count: liking, commenting, sharing, or clicking a link. This is where your mindset is critical. When you’re creating a Facebook post, it’s not enough to be clever, or even thoughtful.
When you create a Facebook post, you need to come at it this way: “How can I thoughtfully construct this post to ignite the action needed for my fans to engage?”
Remember, if there is no engagement, Facebook simply thinks your audience is not interested. And they’re not going to promote something that they think people aren’t interested in. On the other hand, the more people take action on one of your posts, the more your posts will show up in their feed. Not just that one post they liked, but all your posts.
Say you’ve been getting lots of “likes” on a particular photo you posted, or had people commenting throughout the week on a status update…and then, later in the week or month, you post something about a specific promotion you’re doing. All those likes and comments are what will take your promotional post straight to your fans’ News Feed.
Simply put, an increase in fan engagement also = an increase in the exposure of your promotional posts.
Are you beginning to understand the roadmap? As you consistently offer high quality, valuable content that captivates your audience and motivates them to engage, through an indirect process you will increase your sales.
Is Your Story on the Minds of Your Fans?
Mark Zuckerberg recently shared his vision for Facebook. He wants to create the “perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world.”
What this means is that FB is focused on the fan experience. The fan’s. Not yours. That’s why sharing what is relevant and significantly useful to your fans will give you a BIG advantage to being seen in News Feed. Failing to share what is highly useful will alienate you from your fans. You really do need to get to know your audience. This is the FIRST step to engagement.
Every FB fan sees a constant stream of stories and now more than ever only the best of the best will get through on a consistent basis. You can use this to your advantage by taking action. Consider it an opportunity to up your game by taking your communications to the next level.
According to Zuckerberg,
“There’s more competition for what they (users) see, so only the highest-quality content is actually going to get through and get shown to those people.”
Does your content match that description? If you’re not sure, now’s the time to start taking inventory! If you have taken the time to learn about the people sitting in front of you, your fans will have you on “notifications” because they won’t want to miss a single one of your FB posts!
Caution for Overly Promotional Posts
As of January 2015, Facebook has taken on a new philosophy regarding overly promotional posts that will affect how your promotional posts are seen in your fans’ News Feed. In an ongoing survey, Facebook asked hundreds of thousands of people how they felt about the content in their News Feed. The feedback revealed that people wanted to see less promotional posts and more stories from their friends and Pages they loved. When FB says promotional posts, they’re not talking about paid ads. They mean the free status update posts that are advertising something. Examples would be:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
If you’re wondering why fans are not as bothered by actual paid ads in their News Feed, it’s because FB has executed more control and limited the amount of ads fans see. The same control has not been allocated toward free promotional posts. Until now.
So what’s a business owner on Facebook to do?
Earn Your Right to Promote
You may be wondering why I’m talking so much about promotion when this post is supposed to be about engagement. In fact, in order to do engagement right, you have to understand the relationship between engagement and promotion.
Your mindset around promotion directly effects engagement and therefore exposure, even when you are not actively promoting with a given post. It works the other way around as well. Holding a mindset that drives you to heavily promote while not offering your fans compelling content they want to consume will decrease fan engagement and decrease your organic reach.
On the other hand, cultivating a mindset that propels you to create posts with the intention of informing and meeting the needs of your fans (without an intent to sell) will both increase engagement and News Feed reach.
Two Types of Posts: Native & Non-Native (And How to Integrate Them)
Native posts blend in. They are non-promotional. Instead, they create a conversation or add to an ongoing conversation among the tribe. Their high-quality content is an authentic offering from you, often delivered in a voice that is familiar to your audience and is easily recognized as an extension of your brand.
Non-native posts are specifically created to promote your course, product, or service. While your fans’ needs are still at the heart of the content, non-native posts show a clear intention to sell, or at least move your fans closer to the end buy.
There is another type of post that is less black and white. We can call this a semi-native post. Its purpose is to accomplish the tasks of both native and non-native posts. Examples are posts that offer free webinars, free irresistible giveaways, or a free video series etc. While giving away useful and valuable content, you are also moving your fans through a sales funnel.
The Mindset of Integration
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to separating native and non-native posts. They can be mixed and matched to your liking and intuitive sense of your audience. What is important is that your native posts go out consistently and much more often than your promotional posts. Here are three suggestions for integration:
- Keep native posts running regularly and consistently during promotional and non-promotional periods. They should never stop.
- Intentionally post non-native status updates (go ahead and promote) for a specific time period during which native posts are also running.
- Intersperse your semi-native posts casually alongside your native postings.
It is normal for promotional posts to get far less engagement than native posts so don’t be alarmed. The mindset here is to know that you will be relying on native posts to really boost that engagement so that when you do promote, you’ll get the organic reach you are looking for.
As your fans like, comment, share, and click on your native posts, Facebook will deem your page valuable. As a result, the number of your promotional posts served in News Feed will increase.
Earn your right to promote by offering purely valuable and sometimes entertaining content. Go ahead and give away the good stuff. Make it about your fans… not you. Go the extra mile. Over-deliver! Connect and make it personal.
How to Make a BIG Splash to Elevate Facebook Engagement
You may have heard that organic reach (the number of fans that see your free posts in News Feed) has declined. Perhaps you’re already experiencing it.
Here’s the deal: What you decide to do with that information can either set you apart from those who fail or land you in the same boat.
Once again, it comes down to mindset. It is your choice what you focus on. You can see this as an opportunity to fly high or a disaster waiting to happen.
It has been said that during times of economic downfall, there are folks who seek to discover what works. They read between the lines and take the extra steps that others don’t take. They find a way to use the situation to their advantage, creating tremendous success against all odds. Failure has no place in their vocabulary. Don’t let it be a part of yours.
12 Suggestions to Improve the Quality of Your Posts & Boost Engagement
1. Get personal.
A post with no commentary feels like sending a greeting card without writing anything in it. If you’re posting photos, status updates, longer columns, etc. and getting no feedback, it’s probably because it doesn’t feel personal to your fans.
And yes, it’s even important to make your business Page feel personal.
Your posts need some commentary from you–a note about your feelings, your friendships, your goals, showing a vulnerable or even humorous side. This is what allows people to connect..and connection leads to action.
2. Focus on the fans that are actually paying attention to you right now.
So many times I head people say, “I have 2000 fans, but only ten of them will actually comment on a picture.”
Rather than stress out about the vast majority who isn’t engaging, you’re better off getting really, really personal with those ten.
Respond back to the people who are responding to you. Click “Like” on their comment, and generate more conversations underneath their comments. Remember, it doesn’t count as much on Facebook if you to have a lot of fans. What counts is that you have a few engaged fans.
Want to see more examples? Download my free cheat sheet to see how these tips translate into real Facebook posts.
3. Make sure you ask questions that are going to ignite a true conversation.
About once a week, I ask questions to my audience about their concerns with growing an online business, the struggles they are facing, and some of the worries they have actually had while building an online business.
Recently, I asked my audience what was one of the biggest fears about their business right now. And wow–I was so pleasantly surprised to see how much honesty came through in the comments!
Mind you, it wasn’t just any vulnerable-making question. I picked one that rang true with my own brand, that followed from things I talk about regularly.
That’s the key to making these kinds of big questions work for you, instead of against you. Pick something that seems like a random bombshell, and people might feel alienated. Pick something that aligns with who you are and what you offer, and people will begin to open up like you wouldn’t believe. Your openness will give them the much-needed outlet to express some of their concern about whatever it is that they are working on.
4. Try to stick around a little bit, especially after you post a question, even if it’s for ten minutes.
Following the response to that big question–“What’s your biggest fear?”–my instinct was to stick around, rather than leave my desk and let the comments flow in. I just didn’t want to leave those people hanging.
So for the next 20 to 30 minutes after I posted that question, I stuck around and replied to each of the people that posted and used their first name as well. I wanted to let them know that they were heard.
This means the world to people, in the impersonal realm of the Internet. The fact that you’d not just ask your audience to get vulnerable with you, but stay to hear their answers, is a huge gesture. When people see that you are answering them in real time, they will be more likely to start the conversation again next time with you.
5. Create posts that are relevant to your brand and tell a story.
Storytelling is always tough for me to express when I’m trying to explain it to a new customer because when you think of a story, you think of something on the longish side, right? Something that takes a while to get through.
But when I’m talking about storytelling on Facebook, I mean just little short snapshots of what you want to convey. Sometimes a great little story is a perfect lead into a link that goes to a blog post. In fact, I often use the first paragraph of my blog post as my Facebook post.
The purpose here is to ignite a feeling in your audience. Each time you post, question what you want your audience to feel. Do you want them to be happy? Do you want them to feel inspired? Do you want them to feel empathetic or informed or supported or connected to you? Feelings, after all, are what get us to take action.
6. People will share posts that put them in a good light.
Studies have shown that people will share your post if it puts them in a good light. That’s why inspirational quotes get shared the most on Facebook. If it’s an inspirational quote and I share it with my friends, it makes me look like a person who inspires people. If you want more shares, then you want to make sure you are putting out content that people will be proud to share and will make them look good.
7. Create each post as though you are talking to a friend.
After this episode, I want you to go back to your Facebook Page and read your last ten Facebook posts. Do they sound like you are talking to your best friend? Or are they a little stiff? When posting on our business Page, we can take a very unnatural tone…not at all the way we’d post on our personal Facebook wall. But if your personal Wall has way more “friends” than your Page has “likes,” that just proves the point!
People connect with you much more easily when you talk to them conversationally. It might take some practice to get out of the habit of being in “Business Talk” mode, but trust me, it will go a long way toward engaging your audience.
8. It is all about the image.
You already know that images on Facebook go a long way. For the majority of your posts you should be including a really eye-catching image. But this tip is not to create images. This tip is about finding a simple way to get a bunch of images done at once so that when you are posting on Facebook, you actually have what you need to make that post look fantastic.
Images are going to get you more likes, clicks, comments, and shares–I can promise you that.
I love using a tool like Canva for this. They have tons of backgrounds and images and text to use. But if you’re the type who will go down a rabbit hole while creating an image yourself, don’t go there.
Instead, you’re better off outsourcing your image needs on a platform like 99Designs. You can find a designer who will work at a price you can afford…trust me, it’s a lot cheaper than you might think…and get some great, eye-catching images in a lot less time than it takes to make one yourself.
9. Make sure when people share your content from your blog that it looks really good on Facebook.
You know when you go to a blog post and grab the URL, you copy it and paste it into the post on Facebook and the image and title of whatever is on the web page should get pulled through. You know what I’m talking about? Have you ever had the experience that nothing gets pulled through or just a thumbnail of the image gets pulled through?
That is not what you want to do.
In Episode #44 I offered a cheat sheet to walk you through how to use a specific WordPress plug in that will make sure all of your posts, when shared on Facebook, actually get pulled through correctly and look really good. Go download this cheat sheet now–it will show you step-by-step how to actually install a WordPress plug in called OpenGraph that will help you make sure your blog posts get pulled through correctly on Facebook. The image will show up correctly, the title will be there, the description. This is important stuff.
10. Mix up your content on Facebook.
This is an easy one; consider this another reminder to actually do it.
If you want posts to be shared and to get the likes and comments and clicks you have to keep things interesting. That means using video and different images with your posts and maybe trying a few posts without images just to experiment.
- Sometimes people get more engagement with the non-image posts. (Rare, but it happens!)
- Some people want image quotes and they want to share them.
- Other people love to see posts about your blog post so they can be reminded what you’ve got out there.
Mix up your content as often as you mix up the type of posts. Sometimes include links to blog posts. Other times just use quotes, quick tips, facts, or whatever it might be.
If you want to know what’s really interesting to your audience go into your Facebook insights. Inside of insights you can actually see which posts are getting the most engagement. You will see on that very first page, if you scroll down into Facebook insights (every single Page has Facebook insights, it’s like analytics) you will see what people are sharing the most. That’s what’s working; do more of it.
11. Upload video directly to a Facebook post.
I want to actually take one idea that I just mentioned in Tip #10: video. The reason video deserved its own tip is because I’m seeing amazing things with my content and those of my customers in terms of sharing video on Facebook. I’m talking about uploading the video directly to a Facebook post. I’ve been doing this a little bit pretty consistently. Each time I post a short video I already have thousands of people I have reached, versus maybe a few hundred with an image post. If you upload a short video, let it go for 30 minutes and then come back. I promise you your reach is almost guaranteed to be higher than anything else you have posted over the last week.
What do you put in your video?
- You can make a quick video of yourself talking directly to the camera.
- You can have a few slides that you go through on the video telling people about your latest podcast episode or blog post.
- You could also do a quick video where you invite people to a webinar or tell them about your cheat sheet.
12. You’ve got to check out one of my favorite scheduling tools.
Confession: I am in love with Edgar.
You can go to http://meetedgar.com for all of the details.
Edgar is not a free service, but it’s worth paying for. I’ve always struggled to find a tool that I’m comfortable with that’s really easy to use that will help me schedule my Facebook posts. It’s a lot of work to constantly be looking for content to schedule in advance and post on your Facebook Page: a mix of your own content, other people’s blog posts and videos, re-posts of your old content, quotations, etc.
Edgar allows you to become a superstar with Tip #10 (mixing up your content). You choose what you want to share, where you want it to share, you make sure it looks good, and then you just click enter and it goes into a queue. It will then be posted at random times (you can choose the times if you want) on your Facebook Page and Twitter.
Edgar has skyrocketed my engagement. This is why I love him so.
Engagement Truly Matters
When you make an honest effort to understand your audience and you give BIG and share freely, your fans’ trust in you will snowball. Their loyalty to your brand will be obvious by their level of engagement. From there you are golden because you will have built a foundation of extraordinarily useful content and a tribe ready to consume it.
Now I would love to hear from you! What’s working for your business when it comes to Facebook engagement? Please post in the comments below.
Also, don’t forget to download the free cheat sheet that I’m offering with this episode. It will make these tips come to life for you.