After creating hundreds of Facebook and Twitter posts and trying to determine a golden formula to guarantee engagement, I’ve come to realize that a golden formula does not exist. It turns out that posts do not fit into a one size fits all mentality. When creating content, it is essential to keep your audience and what you want to achieve by using social media in mind.
Sonya Song, a Knight-Mozilla fellow working at the Boston Globe, recently conducted a study about Facebook engagement. Part of the study focused on two systems of thinking, fast and slow. Simply put, System 1, or fast, is what we do when our brains are on autopilot. System 2, or slow, is what happens when we are putting a conscious effort into something, like writing a blog post.
Social media is usually consumed during periods of relaxation meaning that people do not want to exert a lot of effort to understand a post. While there are exceptions, maximum engagement comes from posts that stand out and grab attention.
As I have learned, there is no golden formula for which Facebook posts go viral. However, here are a few guidelines I have developed that have helped increase engagement.
Use Pictures: Yes, this probably seems obvious but the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” reigns especially true online. It is much easier to draw attention with a picture than it is with text. If the picture is compelling enough, people will read then read the caption.
Tell a Story: Never underestimate the power of a good story. By good I don’t necessarily mean positive; negative news stories can be compelling. Stories are made for sharing; it is much easier to remember the gist of a story than it is a list of facts.
Ask Questions: So you want people to engage with your post, ask them! If most Facebook users are on autopilot, even an eye catching picture may not automatically elicit someone to stop and press the like button. However, if the picture is captioned asking you the ‘like’ the picture to show support, then the idea has been planted and a user is more likely to take action.
Keep these simple tips in mind when creating content and hopefully you too will see a rise in engagement. Have you found any tricks that seem to increase engagement that I didn’t include? Please share below so we can learn together how to navigate the world of social media marketing.
Until next time,
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