Most Effective Facebook Wall Posts: Short and After Hours

EngagementScale

If Facebook brand pages have become a key part of online marketing efforts for many companies, then Wall posts play a crucial role in attracting and engaging fans on those pages. With that in mind, Facebook marketing specialist Buddy Media undertook a study to determine a set of best practices for posting on Facebook brand pages.

The analysis involved examining Wall posts on the Facebook pages of more than 200 Buddy Media clients from Jan. 30-Feb. 12, along with "Likes" and comments related to these posts. The companies included represented a range of industry categories, including entertainment, automotive, business and finance, fashion and health care.

Among the main findings is that posts should be short and sweet. Posts between 80 characters or less had, on average, a 27% higher engagement rate than those with more than 80 characters, but accounted for only 19% of all posts. That makes Twitter's 140-character limit on tweets seem long. Conversely, the study found full-length URLs in posts had three times higher engagement than ones using a URL-shortener. Why?

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"It's likely because the 'indicators' a user normally gets from reading the text in a full-length URL are missing with a shortened URL," according to the report. To get around that problem, it suggests using a condensed URL that still includes some brand identification in the Web address instead of simply a series of numbers and letters. In the case of http://www.pepsi.com/, for example, the company's shortened URL via bit.ly appears as http://pep.si/ocLU.

When it comes to what day or days of the week are best to post, the company's research showed interaction in the form of comments and Likes around posts peaked on Thursday and Friday. This coincides with recent Facebook data indicating that the "Happiness Index" on the social network spikes by 10% on Friday. (Saturday and Sunday were also found to be among the "happiest" days of the week.)

Engagement rates dipped 3.5% below average for posts published Monday through Wednesday and fell 18% on Saturday -- a sharp contrast to the 18% gain on Thursday and Friday.

The vast majority (86%) of brand page posts are made during the work week. But the study suggests that interaction rates can vary according to industry. Sunday, for instance, is good for automotive, retail and sports-related companies, while midweek is better for food and beverage brands. Media companies should not post on Mondays to avoid getting drowned out by all the industry news breaking at the start of the week.

Looking at time of day, the data showed engagement rates are 20% higher than average outside of normal business hours, although most posts (60%) go up between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. "By posting within business hours, brands miss the critical opportunity to get the visibility they need for maximum engagement," noted the report. "So schedule posts to appear early in the morning or late at night. Don't publish simply because you're in front of your computer."

Buddy Media also advises marketers to be direct in asking users for "Likes" and comments and recommends placing questions at the end of a post (rather than the beginning or middle) to increase the chances of getting a response. Posts ending with a question have a 15% higher engagement rate. Of course, if a post is less than 80 characters there shouldn't be much problem with someone getting lost in verbiage.

Interrogative keywords like "how," "who," "what" and "when" are useful for driving interaction -- but "why," not so much. "'Why' has both the lowest 'Like' and comment rates and may be perceived as intrusive and/or challenging," according to the report. It's also a question that philosophers have wrestled with for ages.

Using Wall posts to promote contests and sweepstakes has become a familiar marketing tactic on Facebook brand pages. Buddy Media advises eschewing the hard sell in favor of a softer approach; using promotional keywords like "winner" and "events" rather than the more direct terms "contest" or "coupon." If you can have a contest, just don't call it a "contest."

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