Who Cares About Shares?

With the exponential growth of Facebook, there’s been an almost sickening amount of talk about likes and likeabilty. Likes are important, but ultimately they only help you reach a higher percentage of your existing fan base. Shares, however, help you reach beyond your fanbase without requiring you to pay for ads. If you want to boost them with promoted post ads, they’ll give you even more explosive results, but if you can’t spend much on ads, shares are a smart way to go.

In fact, I just released a joint ebook with Marketo called Contagious Content: What People Share on Facebook and Why They Share It. Overall, the ebook comes out of having paid attention to what does and doesn’t work on hundreds of Facebook pages. In partnership with AgoraPulse, we looked at in-depth data for 67 Facebook pages. We looked at up to 50 posts per page, for a total of 2,953 posts and a total of 31,423 data points. Note to AgoraPulse clients: all this data was anonymized to protect your data’s confidentiality.

The post that was shared the most relative to its fanbase (get the ebook!) was viewed by four times as many people as it had fans. The post was seen by 41,334 people, even though its page had less than 10,000 fans.

Engagement is Key

Social media is the perfect place to get your prospect and customers engaged with your content. So what do fans do when they interact with a post on Facebook? Here is what we found out:

  • 0.4% of fans commented on the average
  • 3.4% of fans liked the average post
  • 0.4% of fans shared the average post

Note: this does not include other types of clicks on posts

That means that of these three types of engagement

  • 10% was commenting
  • 10% was sharing
  • 80% was liking

People like posts eight times as often as they comment or share on them. So what prompts people to like, share, or comment on a Facebook post?

Take a look at a few examples of some great contagious Facebook posts that we found through our research.

Example #1: A B2B Event-Related Post

Deloitte is one of the big four professional services firms whose offerings include financial, risk and tax services. Their most shared post in the last few months is a photo album from the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos. They took over a walkway used by the most powerful men and women in the world. Through social media they asked people some important questions about business, innovation, and society. Leaders attending the conference saw the wall evolve over days as Scriberia sketched peoples tweets. See the video about it here (http://vimeo.com/58022782). This is an extremely creative campaign- combining tweets, crowdsourcing, graphics, and bringing the 1% and 99% together. It’s innovative, visual and relevant, and that’s why it was shared so much. What events can your company leverage? How can you partner with other companies to do more interesting campaigns?

Example #2: B2C Community Building

This, the second most shared post in our study (download the ebook to see the most shared one!), reached twice as many people as its page’s posts normally do. It was posted by a page that primarily caters to mothers, but going with the “auntie angle” is smart because there are more aunties than mothers. Always a smart thing to do- think about who your audience is, how do they define themselves, and then what and who else are they? What else do they like? And the lynchpin? They asked for you to engage with it and share it in the picture itself.

Example #3: B2B Product-Oriented Posts

The most shared Cisco post in the last six months was holiday-oriented. We try to avoid holding these up as great examples, because any company can use a holiday and get great response from it, but we really liked the creative implementation of this one. They carved their logo into a pumpkin (or PhotoShopped it, but it looks real enough), and added wires to make it a “Route-o-Lantern”. Clever.

To make up for the holiday example, we showed their second most shared post in recent times, a giant Cisco IP phone. This is a sight gag, which is visual humor. What can you do with your products or services, making small things big or big things small? How can you put together things that aren’t supposed to be? Ever noticed how a circuit board looks like a city? That kind of thing.

6 Functions of Highly Shared Posts

In addition to the 31,000 data points from 67 Facebook pages we, we also reviewed 30 days’ worth of posts from many other pages to find the most shared posts from each. Both of these types of surveys combined led us to creating this tip list.

Shareability is all about what the post does to people- it has an effect on them that they want to share with others. Highly shareable posts do at least one of the following:

  • GIVE: Offers, discounts, deals or contests that everyone can benefit from, not just one sub-group of your friends
  • ADVISE: Tips, especially about problems that everyone encounters; for example, how to get a job or how to beat the flu
  • WARN: Warnings about dangers that could affect anyone
  • AMUSE: Funny pictures and quotes, as long as they’re not offensive to any group- sometimes the humor isn’t quite as strong or edgy- it has to appeal to a general audience
  • INSPIRE: Inspirational quotes
  • AMAZE: Amazing pictures or facts
  • UNITE: A post that acts as a flag to carry and a way to brag to others about your membership in a group that’s doing pretty darned good, thank you very much.

If your posts can do at least one of these, and avoid the 4 mistakes that prevent people from sharing your posts (get the ebook!), it has a good chance of getting shared like crazy.