I found a wonderful infographic
that illustrates the social media strategy process: set goals, make them measurable, pick metrics, and make decisions based on your data.
What caught my eye was the last step of looking at your data to figure out if you met your goal. The infographic offers a yes/no decision tree that I think is an excellent way to improve your social media strategy.
Facebook analytics programs like Insights, EdgeRank Checker and Simply Measured give you a lot of data, but I only look at these items:
- The reach of the posts
- Whether or not something went viral
- The comments on the posts and shares
I look at these on a per post basis. I also pay attention to—and test—the best time of the day and week to post, and the type of content people like to see.
Here are some tips to help you provide powerful content on your Facebook page:
1. Post timely, relevant and high-quality content.
I've found that "news jacking"—putting your spin on breaking news that's relevant to your audience—inspires comments and shares.
For example, a cartoon about PR disasters that I shared during the Susan G. Komen PR crisis received a high number of shares and comments compared to other content I posted that month. I learned that I can spark interaction when I share relevant links with conversation starters.
2. Post pictures to spark shares and comments.
This is a great tip, as long as you make sure the visuals are relevant to your audience. My Facebook audience responds to easily digestible and practical information, especially visual tips and relevant humor.
For example, this post illustrating simple privacy tips received a high number of shares and comments. This post testing whether people share baby and cute animal photos more often received a high number of likes, but no shares.
3. Post a variety of content.
Want to claim a space in your fans' news feeds? Vary the content you post.
Facebook's EdgeRank, the score that determines what content makes it into users' news feeds, rewards variety. Don't post links all the time—post photos, videos, polls, status updates and questions.
When I sketch out my editorial plan for the month, I include a "type of post" column to make sure I don't get stuck in a content rut. I also look at my analytics to see how much engagement each type of post gets.
4. Be consistent.
Research shows that if you consistently post high-quality content your audience likes, people will come to you. Dan Zarrella's research suggests posting every other day. This is a general rule of thumb you should test and adapt for your audience.
Watch for signs in your metrics that you post too frequently. As a rule, I never post content for the sake of posting content. But, if there is breaking news I know my audience will love, I post more often.
It's useful to have a regular theme each week. I discovered this by doing a content analysis on comments. I posted a fun but practical link to social media icons on a Friday. In the comments, someone shared it as a "Fun Friday Geeky Share." I started a regular Fun Friday Geeky Share post that always gets a high number of shares, likes and comments.
5. Keep posts short and sweet.
Research shows that posts with 80 characters perform well. But, don't be a slave to this rule. As Mari Smith points out, Facebook increased the maximum update size from 420 characters to 5,000 characters. Experiment with this mini-blog post format as long as your content is timely, relevant and helpful.
6. Experiment with timing.
Several research studies suggest that weekends and evenings are optimal times to post, perhaps because there is less clutter in people's news feeds. I make sure I post when my audience is there to engage, not when it is convenient for me. You need to test out your own audience.
I tried posting on a Saturday once and got my largest amount of shares, but it's hard to say whether that was because of the timing or the content.
7. Include a call to action.
Tell your fans when you want them to share, like or comment on something. Many nonprofits know simply asking their fans to share content is enough to get their fans to do so. Of course, the content has to be timely, of high quality, and relevant.
8. Share good news.
Audiences love to celebrate victories. My Facebook page recently welcomed its 10,000th fan, so I posted an update to celebrate and thank everyone. It generated a higher number of likes than other posts.
9. Continuously comment.
I had the pleasure of hearing Guy Kawasaki speak about his book "Enchantment," and one of his tips was to continuously comment. This was a big takeaway for me, and I've consistently tested it. It works.
I always post content as my page's administrator, but comment in the thread as an individual. I don't have to respond to comments right away, but I do respond to comments in two, 10-minute spurts per day. I use Nutshell Mail to make it manageable.
10. Repeat successful posts.
I don't cut and paste old posts, but I do repeat popular themes. If I repeat content, I try to do it differently the second time, like posting a visual instead of just the link.
Beth Kanter is a visiting scholar at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and is a co-author of "The Networked Nonprofit." She also writes Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, where a version of this article originally ran.