Brian Carter is a brand advocate for PageLever, the leading Facebook analytics tool. He is also the author of The Like Economy, and has been cited as an expert in facebook marketing by ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. Read more at his blog: BrianCarterYeah.com
Brands have learned that success with a Facebook page isn’t just about fan numbers, but also about how many fans see their posts. Facebook’s news feed algorithm -- called EdgeRank -- controls that visibility.
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Of course, optimizing a news feed is a complicated recipe that varies with each brand, the kind of content it posts, and its fans. There have been hundreds of blog posts written about this subject, but here are five completely new ways to get better results.
1. Post Photos
The Facebook news feed algorithm appears to be calculated both per fan and per type of post. That means a person might see Coca-Cola’s photo posts, but not the company's link posts. There are six post types: a text-only status update, a photo, a link, a video, a platform post, and a question. The first four are the most commonly used. After some research, its clear that a Facebook page gets more fan engagement from photos than links, statuses, or videos. In fact, photos get as much as twenty times more engagement.
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So, even when you need to post a link to your website, you should post a photo with that link. You might also consider posting a thumbnail of your video and a link to the video, rather than featuring the video itself. To do that, enter the status update and link first, then hit the x to cancel the video preview, then click on "photo/video" and choose the image file you want to attach.
Posting everything with an image will increase the percent of fans you reach. In all these cases, your status and link will show up above the image. My experiments show that you can get a good amount of clicks on links above photos. For example, one post (also amplified by sponsored story ads) reached 114, 434 people and engaged 619 people (0.5% of reach), while the link received 311 clicks (0.27% of reach and half the engaged users).
You can get creative with your message by taking things that might have started as status updates, and adding the same message into an image. Someecards is a popular and funny e-card website, and it allows you to create your own. Just choose a background color and one of their line drawings, then add your text. You can save the image and post it on your Facebook page. Do this manually to make sure it’s a photo post-type. A great example of this comes from The American Heart Association. They used a card to humorously promote children eating vegetables. It’s not the funniest image you’ve ever seen, but many big organizations can’t be as edgy as others. It’s better than no humor at all. As you can see, it got a good amount of shares.
You can also use memegenerator.net to glom onto some of the latest and more edgy memes, or even use Photoshop to make it yourself.
2. Create Photo Albums
The World Health Organization’s Women Create Life program aims to improve women’s rights internationally. One way they do this is by creating great photo posts or great photo albums like the one below.
In the last month, out of 11 posts the organization created, three of the top four most-viewed posts were photo albums. Photo albums show one big photo and several smaller ones. They look different from other posts in people’s news feeds, so they get attention. People click in to see all the photos. This gives you an advantage over all the other people and pages you’re competing with for your fans’ attention. Also, although Facebook hasn’t confirmed this, clicks on links or into photo albums probably impact EdgeRank to some degree.
3. Write More Text
Women Create Life takes a magazine approach to its posts. The organization doesn’t use a separate website. Instead, they put all their text into the posts. Sometimes that's as much as 800 words (the current limit is 5,000 characters).
As a result, there is always a “see more” link to click to read the rest of the text. Women Create Life also added a Spanish translation at the end of each post. According to Facebook, clicks on “see more” are counted as a consumption under the “other consumptions” category.
Again, this may feed into EdgeRank, although Facebook has not confirmed it. Either way, this approach also helps followers to see you've put significant time into your posts, which can lead to more shares.
4. Push Your Network to New Posts
Can you front-load engagement to convince the news feed algorithm to show the post to a larger audience? It's hard to say how much impact doing this would have, but here’s how you do it:
- 1. Go to the photos section of your Facebook page and upload an image.
- 2. There is a "post" button at the bottom, but you can change the album name and just exit the tab once it has uploaded the image.
- 3. Go back to photos, you'll see the image there.
- 4. Copy the photo URL, or look for the URL they give you on the album page.
- 5. Promote the album and/or photo via Twitter, email, LinkedIn, and any other distribution networks you have in place.
- 6. Take this even further by spending some money on the post. Either promote the post directly, or create a sponsored story in your Facebook ads to increase visibility and likes early on. After you have some likes and comments, post it out to your news feed, too. To do that just go to the album and upload a new image, and it will prompt you to post out.
If you keep adding a new image, it lets you publish each time. So seed the album with two photos, promote, then add more, then publish. Because you start off with extra engagement, it spikes the post. If you leverage your entire distribution network, this may increase your reach. The more people interact with a post, the more of your fans Facebook shows it to. Every post has a lifespan, and you have more posts you want to get out, so getting more engagement early is key.
5. Use Post Targeting
The new post-targeting feature, still being rolled out to all Facebook pages, allows you to segment your fans by criteria previously only available to advertisers. This includes age, gender, interested in (likes), relationship status, all education information, workplace, plus the old options like language, country, state, and city.
You can use post-targeting to your advantage in a couple of ways. First, you can target a post to the segments of your fans most likely to interact with it. The more tarted you get, the fewer people you'll reach, but a higher percentage of the people you do reach will engage. If there’s someone who wasn’t that into your page, but really likes the topic you posted on, and ten of their friends comment on a particular post that hits that interest or demographic, then EdgeRank shows your page to that person. It’s like a snowball that picks up momentum and just keeps rolling because it’s so concentrated.
Second, you can divide your audience up and release multiple posts at one time. This content customization increases your chance of getting more people in each fan subgroup to see and engage with your posts.
This story originally published on Mashable here.