There’s a fine line between a scientific approach to marketing on Facebook and a haphazard shotgun approach. For those of you who prefer not to "point and shoot," a new study from a San Francisco-based social media strategy firm offers an in-depth analysis of the top 20,000 Facebook Pages and up to a quarter million posts in an effort to determine the most useful posting techniques.
In the just-released report called Engagement and Interaction: A Scientific Approach to Facebook Marketing, Momentus Media provides answers to the seven most frequently asked questions by Facebook page administrators:
- When’s the best time to post? While weekends and off-peak hours from 2pm to 5am are the times when page admins are least likely to add a new post, those are the posts that receive the highest interaction rates. Thursdays, on the other hand, shoulder the highest number of postings during the week and the lowest interaction rate. And since a high level of postings results in a lower interaction rate from users, it only stands to reason that posting in off-peak hours means you’ll gain more interaction from fans.
- How many times should I post per day? You’d think too many posts would offend your followers but the report suggests frequent posting increases interaction. As you might suspect, fewer posts reduce the chances users will see them. And while unsubscribe rates go up after three posts per day, they level off at higher frequencies. The secret is to find that balance between optimizing interaction and managing unsubscribes, which is going to be different for every business.
- What type of content elicits the most interaction? By far, photos generate the highest interaction rate for the six varieties of content, with status updates ranking No. 2. Others -- in descending order -- include video, music and links. The fact that links are at the bottom is interesting, considering they are posted the most often. Photos rank at the top because they’re visual, easy to digest and they elicit emotion.
- Should I ask fans to Like or Comment on my posts? Absolutely. Just by taking advantage of a "Like" call to action boosts your interaction rate by 216 percent. Momentus Media analyzed 49,266 Page posts, comparing interaction rates for posts with "Like" and "Comment" calls to action and those without. And while only 1.3 percent of status messages had a call to action attached, those who used "Like" or "Comment" showed a huge boost in interaction rates.
- Should I ask my fans questions? You’d think that by asking questions you’d get a better interaction rate, but such is not the case. However, Facebook page admins looking to achieve the highest comment rate should pose questions and then directly ask for fans to reply with comments.
- How long should my status messages be? According to this study, size does matter. While there’s a higher posting rate for shorter posts (especially those that stay within the 140-character limit for cross-posting purposes on both Twitter and Facebook), interaction increases as the length of the status message increases.
- How long do my messages remain in the Newsfeed? In the first hour of a Facebook status update, half of the users who will click on the post will have done so, with 90 percent of the clicks occurring within nine hours of the post going live.
What's your best strategy for boosting interaction with your company on Facebook? Leave a comment and let us know.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.