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Facebook Engagement Practices: Recent Studies and Discussions

14 Comments 12 April 2011

Image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan and Creative Commons

Everyone wants  to know the secret formula for on-page Facebook engagement. It seems that the new buzzword is “engagement,”and followers aren’t as important as engaged followers (thankfully). A few recent discussions and reports have zeroed in on how fans respond to Facebook posts, want to interact with posts, and when they are most responsive.

How often to post updates

A recent Linkedin discussion around the question “How often should you post on your nonprofit’s Facebook Page, and when?” seems to typify the public discussion. From this discussion (79 comments) within the Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations group, the comments can be condensed into the following practitioner recommendations:

  • Post a minimum of three times a week for engagement.
  • Some organizations seem to feel that posting daily is a necessity, but never more than thrice-daily. It seems to depend on the size of the Facebook page and the organization.
  • Relevant content is of primary importance; if it isn’t relevant, it is best not to post anything.

Within the comments, Shelly DeMott Kramer mentioned Dan Zarella’s recent webinar about how brands use Facebook. The webinar was based on his extensive research, which shows that the most successful brands post content to Facebook daily.

Based on my experience posting for other nonprofit organizations, I believe that daily Facebook posting is must for a vibrant and strong brand. However, if you are trying to build your brand that has few followers, posting three to four times a week can be sufficient, until the page reaches a critical engagement mass.

You know WHEN to post, but not HOW

Buddy Media identifies definitive best brand practices for Facebook engagement in its new report, “Strategies for Effective Facebook Wall Posts: A statistical review.” The study analyzed Facebook wall posts of 200 of the world’s largest brands over a two-week time period. Success was measured in relationship to number of comments and likes as a percentage of fan base.  The highlights are summarized in this chart, created by emarketer:

Other notable points from the Buddy media white paper:

  • Do not shorten links with URL shorteners. Engagement rates are three times higher when posts contain the long URL than when they contain a shortened link. Perhaps, speculates the authors, fans are wary about what they are clicking on when the URL is shortened.
  • Different industries have higher engagement on different days of the week. For example, the entertainment industry sees the highest engagement Friday through Sunday, when most brands do not post.
  • To drive comments, ask a direct question and then ask for a response. Fans seem to like direction.
  • If you want fans to like a post, ask them to do so in a forthright manner.
  • When running a contest or other promotional offer, “softer sell” keywords resonate best. Fans are happier engaging in contests with the words “winning” and “events” than the words “contest” or “promotion.”
  • As noted above, asking a question at the end of a post drives engagement. In particular, the words “where,” “when,” “would,” and “should” drive the highest engagement rates. Avoid asking “why” questions – this word has the lowest like rate.

You can download the entire report here.

WHAT to post to encourage comments

My colleague John Haydon just published a wonderful blog post entitled “16 Ways to Get More Comments on Your Facebook Page.” (Notably, it has been retweeted 312 times and recommended on Facebook 249 times.) Each of the sixteen ways cited in the blog post includes a link illustrating the example on Facebook. I’ve tried many of these methods, and I can attest that they drive engagement. Additionally, as I wrote previously, asking questions is also a great way to know more about who is engaging with your page.

We’ve come a long way towards understanding how to create engagement on Facebook. What have you learned?








Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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