I recently had the privilege of spending a few days with Facebook staff who really understand how Facebook works at this year’s Facebook Developer Conference. While there was a lot of really great information, following are 11 of the key things nonprofits need to know to get more out of their Facebook page:
- Every person’s news feed is unique and based on the relationship they have with the author (how often they engage with them), the type of content the person tends to interact with (photo, link, video, text), and the post’s recent engagement (likes/comments/shares). Facebook’s #1 job is to protect each person’s unique feed and make sure it only contains content they really like to consume.
- People consume content to connect, relax, and catch up on current events. Therefore, posts should give your audience something to talk about with friends, keep them informed, and/or give them a chance to unwind.
- Three things drive sharing, content that: people think will be valuable to others; defines who they are to others; and lets them feel like they are making a difference. If your content doesn’t hit on at least one–and preferably all–of these, it will fail to engage people.
- People like, comment, and repost content to their personal timeline when they want everyone to see it. They send it directly to a friend or to a group when they want to contain it to a subset of friends. The more diverse your audience’s friend groups are, the less likely they are to share content that might negatively impact their relationships.
- Talk like a human; use plain language and get straight to the point. Starting with the why tends to get better engagement as does being timely and providing context for link posts in the message. Have a voice that matches your audience, preferably one that is friendly, and don’t forget a solid call to action.
- Video is the future of Facebook content and will soon include spherical and interactive VR experiences. Today, 53% of video views are from re-shares. Because videos auto-play on Facebook, this type of watch time is factored into its engagement rank. Videos should leverage auto-play by designing for a sound off experience (think animated graphics) that grabs attention in the first two seconds.
- Make sure your content is engaging or it’ll be buried quickly as stories are locked in place in the newsfeed as they are viewed, with the most relevant, not yet seen stories on top. If a story is skimmed past, it’ll be buried upon return as only new, relevant posts get top billing.
- Don’t let your content disappoint as Facebook actively suppresses posts that bait, hoax, and/or are overly promotional. For link posts, load time and time spent reading the link content are factored into engagement rank to determine whether people are disappointed after clicking.
- You can post often without worrying about spamming people because Facebook automatically picks the right posts for the right people. Post more using different post types to reach different segments of your audience; try posting multiple variants of a story to better understand the different consumption patterns of your audience.
- Don’t rely on people liking your content to grow reach. Instead provide enough value that people choose to actively share it. Why? Because edge stories — content people don’t follow but a friend engaged with — get less visibility in newsfeeds than things explicitly shared.
- The shorter the flow, the higher the conversion rate. Most consumption happens on mobile devices during brief periods of downtime so optimize for that experience.
The good news is that these takeaways are consistent with what Facebook has shared over the last year. Create and post content your audience views as high quality and you’ll do awesome. Be overly promotional or not in tune with the preferences of your supporters and you’ll struggle with reach and need to pay a “pollution tax” to get it into their newsfeed with ads.