Do you find it a struggle to get engagement on your Facebook posts? Or would you like to attract more engagement more consistently? Then follow the tips and ideas in this article to really ramp up your response rate!
Why is engagement so important?
First, let’s recap why engagement is so important for successful Facebook marketing.
Engagement on a Facebook post happens when the post has sufficient impact on someone (and very often sparks an emotional involvement too) that they feel compelled to respond. Regular moments of impact and emotional involvement with a target audience are obviously at the heart of successful social media marketing.
Human nature being what it is means that seeing reactions and comments on a post will trigger curiosity, and therefore more attention and impact.
However, for many businesses, the ultimate aim is to have their posts shared, as the content (and also the business name) will not only reach a whole new audience, but the sharing itself adds an endorsement , or ‘social proof’ to the post.
Attracting engagement is also central to visibility of your posts in the newsfeed.
In January of this year, Facebook announced big changes to the newsfeed algorithm which meant that posts from friends and family would be given priority over content from businesses and organisations in the newsfeed. They explained that ‘posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to’ would now get shown higher in the newsfeed.
We were told that ‘Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed’ and that these might well be Live video, posts in groups, or posts from local businesses about events and updates.
Facebook warned that video posts where the video was consumed passively, would be amongst those posts types that would lose ranking in the newsfeed.
As further details about the new algorithm were shared, we learned the factors that would now be important for newsfeed ranking
‘“Comments are more valuable than Likes. Meaning content that inspires comments, specifically, long comments which actually take time and thought to type out will be a positive ranking signal for the algorithm which will lead to increased distribution of the content which sparked the lengthy response.”
There is a fuller summary of all the changes that were made here.
The net result of these changes is that marketers need to create posts that either attract long comments, and/ or that encourage sharing, or discussion between people, in order for their content to be ranked in the Facebook News Feed.
So creating engagement is central to successful Facebook marketing.
(Note that Facebook continues to demote posts that use
‘engagement bait’ as a way to ‘beat’ the algorithm. These are posts that encourage, for example, responding with a single word, or an emoji, or that ask for people to tag friends in the comments.)
So – how can we ensure that our posts will attract engagement?
First, let’s cover the basics …
Know who you want to attract
It sounds a simple enough question, but the more in depth your answer, the more successful your Facebook marketing will be. The better you understand the people you want to attract, the easier it will be for you to create posts that get noticed and responded to.
For example, you might describe your ideal customer as being a mum of two children under the age of 8, living in a specific location.
Without any further information, we don’t know whether that’s a Mum who’s committed to staying at home to raise her family, or a Mum who’s at work and juggling a career and childcare; we don’t know whether that Mum has a partner, or is a single mum; we don’t know anything about income level or how they spend their leisure time.
Dig deep enough into the detail that you know what your ideal customer’s daily routine looks like, what challenges she faces, what really matters to her, what her aspirations are, and her short-term goals.
Then you’ll be able to create Facebook posts that are relevant and relatable. They will naturally attract the right people for you, as you’ll be able to talk their language and show how much you understand their situation.
Know your brand personality
Know your brand personality and why you’re different. It sounds harsh, but if you’re boring, or sound like every other business in your sector, who’s going to be interested?
(For tips on how to get clear on this, check out this article.)
This brand, Riverford, is very clear (and vocal) about it’s vision, mission and beliefs.
Prioritise building relationships
Creating engagement doesn’t usually happen in a vacuum. Sustained engagement will result from the relationship you’ve built up with your audience over time.
Ideally, aim to build a community where people talk not only to you, but also to each other, and where people help each other out.
This company, Riverford, has built such a strong community that it got massive support on their Facebook Page when they announcde a price rise
For best results, lead by example –ie. be kind, supportive, and helpful, and respond to any comments, including negative ones, fast. (Research shows that people expect brands to respond within 4-6 hours on Facebook.)
Here, Innocent goes above and beyond to provide support to people asking about their dairy-free milk range by pointing them to information published elsewhere.
Show that you are willing to go the extra mile when you deal with questions and you will foster goodwill which, in turn, will lead to engagement.
Note that this brand is willing to put in effort to help a customer – and the customer support person signs off with his name, which helps build trust.
Review what’s working for you now
Facebook offers in-depth analytics of all the activity on your Facebook Page, within the Page Insights tab.
Navigate to the ‘Posts’ tab and check the time that your audience is most likely to be online, so that you can plan your posting schedule.
Use Insights to check what time your audience is active on Facebook so that you know the best times to post.
Scroll further under the ‘Posts’ tab and review whether you are:
- posting consistently (to stay top of mind with your audience and to enable you to make the most of the algorithm)
- and that you are posting a mix of different types of content, both in terms of subject and media (even your most ardent fan will get bored if you share the same stuff all the time.)
Next, analyse your recent posts to see which have received the most engagement – focus especially on the numbers of comments and shares received as these will impact the Facebook algorithm and your Facebook marketing results the most.
Under the ‘Posts’ tab, not only can you review the reach and engagement of each post, but you can also check which posts reached people who are not yet ‘fans’ of your Page.
(If you want to review your data in more depth, you can download from Insights and import into Excel, then segment and analyse, as described here.)
Glean information about your audience and the people who are engaging with your posts from the ‘People’ tab of Facebook Insights.
Facebook Page Insights give you demographic details on your Page audience and on the most engaged segments of that audience.
Review these details regularly to ensure that your content is optimised to attract the right people for your business.
Do you know what’s working for other businesses?
Having reviewed what’s working (or not working so well) for you at the moment, you can get inspiration for new types of posts by scanning the Facebook pages of other businesses that appeal to a similar audience. Check which posts are generating engagement, paying attention to the type of media (images, video), how the media is presented (multiple images, images with text, video length, captions or not), the type and length of copy, tone of voice and frequency of posting.
Alternatively, use a tool such as Buzzsumo.
Search Facebook posts by keyword in the Buzzsumo Facebook Analyzer tool to get an overview of the most engaged posts.
The Facebook Analyzer tool within Buzzsumo makes it easy to search for posts that attract the most engagement, by keywords.
You can filter your search results in the Buzzsumo Facebook Analyzer tool by engagement type to get an in-depth insight into what’s working for other Pages.
You can also get information about the best times to post content relating to a specific keyword.
Buzzsumo’s Facebook Analyzer indicates which day of the week is the best for you to post on, depending on which type of engagement you are aiming for.
And the Facebook Analyzer also gives you big clues about the type of media to use for your posts and the amount of text to include in your post, for maximum engagement.
Check out the Facebook Analyzer for big clues as to which type of post will work best to generate engagement and which character length will be optimal.
Every audience is different and you will only find the best posts for your audience by testing content on your page, but using a tool like Buzzsumo can give you a great starting point to jump off from.
You can even check the optimal time of day to share your post, in order to attract specific types of engagement, with the Facebook Analyzer.
Armed with knowledge from your research, you can now start to create posts that attract engagement , by following these tactics:
Use media that attracts attention
The first stage in creating engagement is to attract attention to your posts in the newsfeed.
Using images and video that stand out without being garish, and speak to your target audience is essential.
However, not all images and video are created equal. Over-used stock photos aren’t going to attract eyeballs to your posts, so it’s much better to use photos that you’ve taken yourself.
Use images that interrupt scrolling
Your images don’t have to be professional or perfect – get into the habit of taking quick snaps on your phone, and maybe adding an interesting crop or filter and you will soon build a gallery of unique visuals.
To add extra attention-attracting pizzazz to your images consider creating a collage, or adding a frame, overlay, eye-catching effect or text, using web-based tools such as Canva, PicMonkey or Easil, or apps such as Wordswag or FrameMagic (ios only).
WordSwag is a very popular app for quickly adding a text overlay to your image
If you’re wondering what to include in your images, remember that we are instinctively drawn to human faces in the newsfeed. This may well be because facial expressions are universal, across all cultures. (In fact, it has been shown that ‘reading facial expressions of emotion … can aid the development of rapport, trust, and collegiality; they can be useful in making credibility assessments, evaluating truthfulness and detecting deception; and better information about emotional states provides the basis for better cooperation, negotiation, or sales.)
Also remember that we’re not restricted to sharing just a single image or video in a Facebook post. Try adding more than one image, or sharing using a carousel format, to attract more eyes to your content.
Facebook makes it easy for us to share multiple images in different formats within our posts.
Facebook states that ads using the carousel format deliver a cost per click that’s 20-30% lower than ‘standard’ link ads. There’s every chance that this uplift in effectiveness translates to organic posts too.
Alternatively, why not consider creating animated visuals and/ or GIFs as an eye-catching alternative to static images? There’s a whole raft of tools and apps available that make this a viable option for even the most untechie marketer.
(Discover simple steps to creating animations here and to creating GIFs here.)
It’s long been an ‘accepted truth’ that video posts attract more attention than any other type of post.
One study found that, of the top 20 most-shared Facebook posts in 2017, only 3 were not video posts.
However, certain types of video perform better than others. One factor that influences the amount of engagement on a video post is the length of the video, another factor is the amount of text in the post itself.
According to a review of 100 million Facebook videos, for optimum engagement, aim to create a video of 60-90 seconds and post text of 84 characters.
Buzzsumo found that Facebook videos of 60-90 seconds generate the most engagement
If you’re stuck for video topics, the same study found that people on Facebook share and engage most with these video types-
- Music videos
- How-to videos demonstrating ‘hacks’ and tips
- Food and recipe videos
- Inspirational or heartwarming videos
- Political, sports and opinion-based videos
- Videos sharing news or findings from studies
- Cute animals (no surprises there!)
But don’t just settle for the standard landscape video presentation! It’s been shown (in a study of over 33,000 Facebook videos) that square videos get 275% more views, 482% more shares, 523% more comments, and 349% more reactions than the average landscape video.
And 2018 has seen a massive increase in sharing of vertical video, with the majority of vertical video viewers agreeing that the format is ‘more engaging’ than landscape video.
For tips on how to make the most of the vertical format – take advice from Facebook themselves!
To craft an attention- grabbing headline for your video, check out this study of the most common 3 and 4 word phrases used in Facebook video headlines and the number of views attracted.
Summary of results from analysing the most common 3 and 4 word phrases in Facebook video headlines.
It seems that titles suggesting we need to know about something will motivate us to watch more videos than other titles will.
If you want to use video and even the thought of creating one using your phone puts you off, then why not use Facebook’s slideshow feature and splice several images together for a quick and simple solution? (You can even download it when you’re done to share on other sites too!)
However you create your video, make sure it has captions, to cater to the 85% of Facebook users who watch video with the sound off.
If your video doesn’t already include captions, Facebook will generate them for you:
Facebook auto-generates captions for videos after you have uploaded them to your Page.
However, just because accepted marketing wisdom says that a post with a video will get more engagement than a post with an image, it’s not always the case. This study found that posts with images attract the most engagement.
It will depend on your audience, and the image or video in question. Plus, people like variety. So – use a mix of both!
In this example, it’s clear that the post created with multiple images attracted many more views and much greater engagement than a similar post containing a video:
Two almost identical posts attract very different amounts of engagement
One of the quickest ways to ramp up your Facebook engagement is to go Live on
your Facebook Page. According to Facebook themselves, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. A separate review showed that Facebook Live videos attract over 1300% more comments than uploaded video posts.
Whether you are marketing to consumers or businesses, using Facebook Live is an easy way to boost engagement. (All the posts with most engagement on this Page are Facebook Live posts.)
Whereas shorter uploaded videos seem to generate the best response, it’s important that Facebook livestreams are long enough to allow people to join and engage. A study by Buzzsumo found that Facebook Live videos should be a minimum of 15 minutes long, to gain maximum engagement.
Going live doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in front of the camera – there are many more alternative and creative ways to livestream, as listed here.
If your audience doesn’t know that you’re live, they won’t join the stream and you’ll miss the opportunity to engage them. So make sure to promote your Facebook live well before it happens, as described here. (Doing a through job of promoting will also make sure you bring new people to your Page who’ve never met you before.)
Promote your Facebook Live on other social media channels to boost your engagement.
For maximum results, go Live at regular times every week, so that your live ‘show’ can become a diarised event for your followers!
(Find more tips on how to create a regular Live show here.)
When you’re live, try to answer all the questions that come in, or as many a spossible – and encourage people to post more questions and to share their thoughts – this will help boost engagement as much as possible.
If you want to create extra buzz and engagement around your Live video, consider running a contest based on comments posted during the livestream (or you could even share a special promotion for the duration of the Live only!)
Running a contest during a livestream can really boost engagement.
Share a stunning image
It may not be Instagram, but beautiful images are always well-received, and very often shared on Facebook.. So include them regularly in your content.
Stunning photos attract comments and shares on Facebook.
It’s been shown that posts which include emojis have a 57% higher like rate, a 33% higher comment rate, and a 33% higher share rate than those that don’t!
This may be because emojis can portray your business as being friendly; they certainly make your content more memorable.
But not all emojis are equal!! Check out this guide to make sure you use the top-performing emojis for click-through and engagement.
Using emojis can help increase engagement on all types of posts, even text-only posts.
Share content created by your fans and customers
Sharing photos or content sent or posted by fans is a great way to show just how much your community and customers matter. (Just remember to ask permission and to credit the creator.)
Sharing a customer’s own photo (with credit) can attract masses of engagement and build goodwill.
That feeling of goodwill is likely to result in more engagement overall, as well as on the individual posts.
Giving a shout-out to a client is a great engagement-boosting tactic.
Run a contest
Running a contest or giveaway on your Page is usually a fast and effective way to increase engagement, if you ask people to comment on a post to enter.
Generating engagement by using contests is an effective tactic for B2B businesses as well as B2C businesses.
If you ask entrants to also share a photo, your contest can supply you with a stack of ‘user-generated content’ to share as above (provided that you clearly state that you intend to do this.)
Collect ‘user-generated content’ by running a contest asking for photo share or answers to a question.
Even a simple question can be turned into a fun giveaway, but if you’re stuck for ideas for a fabulously engaging contest, then check out this article.
Remember that you can only ask entrants to like or comment on a post, post to your Page, or message your Page to join your contest. You should also make it clear that ‘the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.’
A contest prize doesn’t have to be expensive for the contest to be effective.
Even a simple question can be turned into a fun giveaway, but if you’re stuck for ideas for a fabulously engaging contest, then check out this article.
Ask for feedback
People love to feel involved and that they matter. So – how better to make the most of this human trait than to ask your audience for feedback, or for help making choices in your business?
This can work wonders for increasing engagement!
This marketing duo attracted masses of responses by asking for their audience’s opinion on a business decision.
You don’t have to be a professional comedian to make people laugh. Funny things happen every day in our businesses, so just telling those stories can attract a whole load of comments and shares.
Alternatively, why not pass comment on the ridiculous things that are a part of everyday life for the people in your audience? This is a trick that professional comedians actually use, over and over again.
And it’s something that Innocent does incredibly well:
When you hit the sweet spot with a humorous post, you don’t need an image or video to attract a ton of engagement!
It goes without saying that, the better you know your audience, the easier it will be to make them laugh!
Provide valuable information
It may not sound as exciting as some tactics, but providing information that your audience wants and finds helpful will not only (often) attract comments and shares, it’s also the third most common reason that consumers decide to buy from a business. (And that is, after all, why we’re all here, isn’t it?)
This Facebook Page has under 1,000 likes but still generated masses of engagement by sharing really useful and timely information with their audience.
Once again, the better you know and understand the people you want to attract and interact with, the easier you’ll find it to share information they value.
This brand absolutely nailed what their audience needed in terms of helpful information.
And don’t think that you have to create all this information yourself – you can get great engagement from sharing content created by others too!
York Minster is a cathedral – their social media team knows that they are a tourist destination so this post supplies their audience with just the information they need.
What’s a better way to get someone talking than to ask them a question?
While you want to avoid the engagement bait tactics we talked about earlier, asking a question in your Facebook post is a quick and easy way to attract responses.
You can make it light-hearted and fun:
Your audience will probably respond well to a simple, relevant question.
and you can also use it as a great opportunity to share some ‘behind the scenes’ detail about your business:
This is a smart way of attracting responses and building relationships by sharing the human side of the business, all at once.
If you’re feeling brave, why not dive in and ask about a topic that you know is slightly contentious ?
Questions that evoke strong feelings can work very well, but just be careful that the ensuing discussion stays polite!
(note that the business also responded in a friendly way to all the answers and added value by referencing extra information on the topic!)
You may even find that you can accumulate a stack of ‘user-generated content’ if you ask for it:
Asking a simple question that’s fun can get you a whole new asset – a stash of ‘user-generated content.’
Tap into what’s topical
Sharing posts that talk about what’s happening in your audience’s world is a great way to encourage responses. By doing this, you’re joining in the conversations that people are already having about what’s going on – so your presence becomes much more like that of a friend than an entity that’s trying to sell.
And humans respond much better to friends than sales people.
All businesses talk about the seasons and key moments in every marketing calendar. To really stand out, create posts that align with news that you know your audience cares about or that affects them.
One of the remarkable happenings this year in England was that the national football team did uncharacteristically well in the World Cup and all of a sudden most of the country turned into fervent supporters. York Minster shared a video of their organist playing his version of the football anthem and it went down a storm:
Talking about current news in a creative way can attract masses of responses.
If you’re stuck for ideas, check out calendars of ‘National Days’ and ‘International Days’ for inspiration.
Or, for local businesses, talk about events and issues that affect your community. Another approach is to chat about the TV programmes that your audience will be watching:
Innocent refers to Great British Bake Off, a TV programme they know a lot of their audience watches. Notice that their fun take on film titles inspired by the programme encourages fans to comment with their own versions, even though they weren’t asked to!
An extension of this is ‘newsjacking’, where you create a post referring to a big, current news story . To do this well, you need to be able to act fast to capture the moment before too many others do (and while it’s still relevant). A good tip is to monitor what’s trending on Twitter !
Talk about what you do that’s bigger than business
Share updates about non-profits you support, or fundraising activities you’re involved with as a business, or any community projects you’re working with.
People increasingly love businesses that stand for more than just making money. Sharing news about positive impact you’re having beyond your business (even if it’s only on a tiny scale) will very often attract more engagement than your other post types.
Show your human side
Share a human ‘moment’ or a thing that’s mildly frustrating and turn it into a funny post to attract responses from everyone who’s suffered the same!
(The key here is to know your audience really well so that you can understand their pet peeves!)
In this example, Benefit makes lighthearted fun of themselves and all the other Instagrammers who have tried to create a perfect Boomerang clip!
People want to connect with people & to feel understood. When you create a post that your audience really identifies with, then your engagement can go through the roof!
Innocent attracts comments and shares by tapping into the favourite British subject – the weather – in their own inimitable way!
Respond to their comments
The more responsive you are to people who comment on your post, the more likely they are to continue to responding to you. Also, we know that the Facebook algorithm counts discussion as a strong signal of quality content, so the more you respond to comments, the more algorithm ‘brownie points’ you will build up!
Being responsive also boosts your profits – people are more likely to buy from brands who are responsive on social media.
You can be helpful and humorous at the same time:
… or just plain funny. I’m sure that half the reason that this Page gets such consistent engagement is that anyone who responds waits to see what quip Innocent will answer with!
You can also use replies to comments to really add a (humorous) human side to a business that may otherwise find it tricky to do so:
Host a Q&A session
Instead of asking your audience questions, you can attract engagement and responses by encouraging them to ask you questions.
This tactic works best if you let people know what theme or subject they can ask questions on, what the cut-off date for questions is, when they will be answered and by whom.
You can either share the answers on the Page as a video or document, or increase engagement even more by creating a Facebook Live to answer the questions.
Get creative about who you put in the spotlight to answer questions – it could be your staff, or it could be suppliers, other experts you work with, colleagues you meet at an event, or others you partner with.
Q&A sessions can provide valuable insights and unique content to your Facebook audience.
In this example, York Minster ran a series of Q&A sessions involving stone masons who were visiting as part of a stone carving festival. They broadened the scope and potential reach of the Q&A by sharing the call for questions on Instagram and Twitter as well as their Facebook page.
This call for questions was shared not only on Facebook but on other social media networks as well.
If resources allow, consider running a regular Q&A session so that fans to touch base with your brand and gain valuable insights on a consistent basis.
Share a story with emotion
We all know that marketing and storytelling are a match made in heaven – but sharing a story on your Facebook Page, preferably one that tugs at the heartstrings, can also be fantastic for engagement and shares.
It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out tale to be effective – just a simple story that’s relevant to your customers or community will hit the spot.
This veterinary practice shared a sad story with a happy ending and attracted masses of comments and shares as a result.
Share an offer
Using Facebook Messenger bots is an increasingly popular way for businesses to amplify the results from their Facebook marketing. Many bot solutions designed for small businesses, such as Manychat, provide an automated response to comments added to a post. In other words, as a business you can ask people to comment on your post and explain that they will receive a freebie in their Messenger inbox when they do.
This tactic works very well for businesses who have a value-based lead magnet to offer and want to build a list in Messenger. It also works really well for businesses selling to consumers who want to share an offer or a voucher and build a list. Once the bot tool has been created, the voucher will be delivered to the Messenger inbox of whoever comments on the post.
A big bonus is that creating an offer post like this will attract lots of comments, which, provided they are longer than just a single word, will send signals to the algorithm that you are sharing quality content and that more of your audience should see your posts.
This business offered to send a discount code via Messenger to everyone who commented on their post and generated a good level of engagement as a result.
Be prepared to test
Check what’s working by reviewing your Insights. It’s very likely that the posts you predict will attract a ton of engagement may well not perform as well as other posts. At the end of the day, it’s your audience that decides what’s engagement-worthy and not you!
Be ready to try different tactics – for example – if you notice that any link posts you create get very little engagement, try posting the link that you’d love your audience to click on in the comments of a post that’s designed to maximise engagement.
This B2B brand maximises engagement by creating a video post and then shares the link it wants people to click in the comments.
This could be a great way to send interested people to your website without sacrificing engagement on your posts and therefore losing any advantage you may have gained with the Facebook algorithm.
In summary, you have probably noticed that all the tips and tactics I share here, bar contests, Q&A and Messenger bots, are centred around one thing – being human.
And that’s what’s at the centre of attracting more engagement on Facebook – being human. Us humans go on there to interact with humans,. So the more human our businesses can be, the better results we’ll get.
What tips will you try first? I’d love to know!
(This article first appeared on Social Media Examiner Nov. 2018).