May 6, 2013

3 ways to boost Facebook engagement with text updates

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How to make text updates as effective as photos

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, marketers.

John HaydonIt seems like all the “experts” tell us is to post photos on our Facebook page to get more likes, comments and shares.

Text updates aren’t as sexy, but they can be equally as effective.

Why bother posting text updates on your Facebook page?

Why should you care about posting text updates when the research says photos work best?

There are at least two reasons:

  1. Research is always biased. All studies about how content performs on Facebook is based on aggregate data from thousands of Facebook users, and never a true benchmark for your unique community. It’s like comparing apples with a huge bag of fruit.
  2. Posting diverse content helps you engage more users simply because people have diverse preferences for content type and content topics.

Here are three specific ways you can boost the number of comments on your text updates:

Ask closed questionsQuestions

1Closed questions take advantage of the brain’s built-in auto complete feature.

Instead of sucking up RAM formulating an answer to an open question, your brain simply has to spit out a “yes” or“no,” “true” or “false” or some other choice between two predetermined answers. Research also shows that closed questions work better on Facebook then open questions.

Be hyper-specific

2The more specific your question is, the more likely it will receive comments. The reason why is because people don’t have to do a lot of homework to come up with an answer.

For example, asking people what their favorite species of bat is will get more responses then asking people what their favorite animal is. Even more specific (and more fun) is asking if what species of bat would they’d be if they could be one!

Do their homework

Nonprofit Facebook

3Make it easier for people to answer questions by pre-fixing the question with the type of question being asked. For example, write “QUICK POLL:” before you ask a poll question (like the example above). This instantly prompts the brain with what’s required to participate (“A poll question? I can do that!”).

Friends first on Facebook

It’s not that people are lazy, it’s that they’re distracted and busy. The key is to make the hurdles low enough so that more people can participate in your community. And greater participation leads to increased viral reach, increased affinity (a factor that influences EdgeRank) and increased fan growth.

How have you been using text updates? Share your wisdom below!John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.

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