Facebook is still the biggest social network, with over 1.44 billion monthly users, but yesterday’s tactics no longer work if you want to reach more of today’s Facebook users.
The Facebook news feed algorithm now puts more weight on the value of shares.
Here are three easy ways to increase the sharing of your content on Facebook:
1. Launch seasonal photo contests. Contests that are relevant to followers see higher engagement rates. That’s why a user-generated photo contest is a great option.
The benefits are twofold: Photo submissions will help you build a bank of user-generated content, and contributors will help drive shares when they ask their friends and followers to vote.
Seasonal photo contests are especially effective, says Leah Cast, PR manager for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. She cites her team’s recent summer-themed “Love Galveston Facebook Photo Contest” as an example.
“Our goal was to increase engagement and create an emotional connection with our fans,” says Cast. “We achieved [that] with almost 20,000 participants.”
2. Use consistent hashtags . Hashtags aren’t particularly effective on Facebook, but they do increase overall social media engagement by aggregating content and making it more searchable across other social media platforms.
It’s a good idea to use a unique hashtag for a specific campaign, but for branding and driving greater exposure you should use one consistent hashtag for all social media content.
“Don’t create a hashtag based on what you want to tell fans and followers,” says Cast. “Base it instead on what you want the audience to do. Make it actionable.”
For example, the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau wants people to have an emotional connection with the area. That’s why it uses the hashtag #LoveGalveston in every Facebook, Twitter or Instagram post.
Laura Nathan-Garner, program director of integrated media communications at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, takes hashtag consistency a step further.
“Our primary brand hashtag is #endcancer,” she says. “We put it on everything from employee shuttles to all of our ads, not just Facebook posts.”
3. Post more photos of people and places. The new Facebook algorithm rewards posts with images, and so do followers and fans. Try to include an image or video with as many posts as possible.
Photos featuring real people, particularly close-ups of faces, are quite effective.
Humans of New York is a perfect example. The site was created by a photographer who set out to build an online catalog of New York City’s inhabitants. The Facebook page now has over 14 million followers and over 3 million Facebook users posting about it in any given minute.
Photos of places are also effective, because people identify personally with their geographic areas, cities and neighborhoods.
“We have a professional photographer who takes a beautiful sunrise and sunset photo here every day,” says Cast. “That might seem redundant, but we get an incredible amount of shares and engagement for simple location shots. Our followers let us know they’re not happy if we miss a single day.”
Her advice: Pay attention to want people want by tracking engagement metrics—and then cater to that.
Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Kami Huyse, CEO of Zoetica Media; Laura Nathan-Garner, program director of integrated media communications at the MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Leah Cast, PR manager at the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau will share more Facebook marketing secrets in the Sept. 3 PR University webinar, “Your Perfect Facebook Page.”