Establishing a Facebook presence for your blog should be one of the cornerstones of your social marketing strategy. It’s likely virtually all of your readers will maintain an active Facebook presence, and being able to reach them on a site they’re going to check multiple times a day is invaluable.
Bloggers often treat Facebook in the same way as Twitter: “maintaining a presence” involves setting up a plugin to auto-post your new blog posts for you and occasionally manually posting news. If you make one manual post and publish three new blog posts every week, then you’ve got yourself four new Facebook posts every week. That’s plenty, surely?
A different strategy for a different medium
Unfortunately, the approach I’ve just outlined is not going to be effective on Facebook. Facebook is a very different beast to Twitter or other social networks and thus has to be treated as such. To be establish a successful presence on Facebook, you need to understand exactly what it is you’re working with.
The key to understanding what makes for an effective Facebook strategy is understanding Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm. This is the formula that Facebook uses to decide what’s going to show up in your News Feed when you log on. Have you ever noticed how posts from your best friends show up at the top of your Feed, or how you don’t often see posts from “friends” you don’t really talk to? That’s EdgeRank at work.
EdgeRank takes every single bit of content which could show up on your News Feed and ranks it using three factors:
- Affinity: how “close” you are with a friend of page. This is determined by how frequently you interact with the friend or page’s content.
- Weight: how “valuable” the content is. Different types of content have different weights: images have larger weights than links, which in turn have larger weight than one of your friends listening to something on Spotify.
- Time Decay: this is the simple one: how recently the content was posted. New content is more likely to show than old content.
Once it’s taken into account all those different factors, Facebook takes the highest ranked content and displays it at the top of the News Feed. The further away you are from the top of that News Feed, the less likely it is your content is going to be noticed.
This means that when someone likes your Facebook page, you’re drawn into competition with all of their friends and all of the pages they like for the space at the top of their News Feed.
Getting the News Feed top spot
So you’re now aware that establishing a successful Facebook presence is a lot more complicated than you thought it was. It’s now time to look through your new-found knowledge and turn that into an effective Facebook strategy.
This can get very complicated very quickly, but I’ll try and take you through some of the simple changes you can make to improve the effectiveness of your Facebook posts. If you haven’t “got” the EdgeRank concept yet, then take another look at it and make sure you fully understand it before proceeding; EdgeRank is the concept which will empower all of our assumptions. If you’ve got your head around it, though, then let’s get started!
Post at the best time of day
The first simple change you can make is post at the best time of day. We know time decay makes up an important part of EdgeRank, so you need to be posting your content at the time when most of your users are online. Facebook’s Insights are very helpful here: go to your page and see which countries your users are in, and then schedule content around their timezones.
Bear in mind most users tend to be active in the evening, so you should likely be scheduling your content around those times, but whether this is true or not depends on who your audience is. There’s no scientific way of checking this; whilst you could look at demographics and take a guess, the best way to find out is going to be to experiment with posting at different times of the day and just see what works. Once you’ve got a timeframe of a couple of hours which are best, keep experimenting and narrow it down to a half-hour period which is the best time to post.
Optimise for edge weight: use images
I could spend the length of this post again on the different types of weighting Facebook applies to different types of content, but the super-simplified version is this: never, ever, just post a link on Facebook. Why? The way links are displayed and their weight means they’re both unlikely to show on people’s feeds in the first place and even if they do show, people aren’t going to be enticed into clicking a small image with the first sentence auto-grabbed from your post.
The solution, thankfully, is easy and yields immediate results: when posting links to your blog, accompany those links with an image. Ideally the image is something engaging which summarises your content and entices readers to read the full article, but as long as the image is there, it’s doing it’s job. If in doubt, find a cute picture of a kitten. That’ll do.
Become best friends with your readers
As we know, the “affinity” part of EdgeRank is how “friendly” you are with a user/page. Your goal, then, is to become absolute best buddies with your readers. How do you do that? Facebook measures all and any interaction as part of the affinity score: liking a status, commenting, sharing are all expected, but expanding comments, viewing images and “other clicks” are all measured too.
In order to become best friends, you need to start regularly posting engaging content. Aim for six posts spread out over the whole week, with no more than one on any given day. Mix your types of content up, too: as well as links to your site, share infographics, tips and other relevant information to create a real mix of engaging content. Look at what your competitors and large brands are doing, too, to get some ideas. Mix up your content and drive engagement by making it interesting.
Even in the short space of this post, we’ve come a long way in understanding how to create an effective Facebook strategy. There’s just one piece of the puzzle left, then: measuring the results.
Facebook offers a myriad of different options when it comes to measuring the success of your page. Facebook Insights allows you to download so much data there’s almost too much of it to deal with. We’re after one or two simple measurements which will give an accurate judgement of the health of the page and luckily, that’s fairly easy to find.
We’ll take two figures to measure results:
- Weekly total reach: this figure is available from the Insights homepage and gives you a number for how many people have seen your posts over the last week. It’s a good indication of how well the previous week’s posts have done.
- People talking about this: the number of people who have liked, commented or shared your content in the last week. This is an excellent measure of engagement.
It’s a common mistake to only measure a post’s success by the number of likes it has, and to measure a page’s success by the number of likes it has. These two figures account for both of those: weekly total reach measures the number of people who have liked the page and then seen the content and people talking about this accounts for all engagement, not just likes.
Test, measure, repeat
This is only the tip of the iceberg for effective Facebook marketing. The nature of Facebook and the sheer volume of data available means you can keep on testing, learning and improving.
I’ll be covering Facebook marketing more in the future on BlogBettr, so make sure you get the email newsletter and follow me on Twitter so you’re notified as soon as more articles come along.
Any queries, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer :)