Social attraction is about keeping them interested to a point where the relationship becomes physical, meaning more than just “I like you.” Regardless of the social channel, content clearly drives the progression of engagement with consumers. Twitter, Facebook and now Google+ are all about relevancy, social sharing and leveraging content as social currency. While most smart brands do search engine optimization (SEO) to use website content to improve their search rankings, the vast majority don’t optimize their social content to drive stronger customer interaction. In this post, we’ll dive into what brands must do to optimize their social ROI, maximize their Facebook EdgeRank and avoid boring their followers.
Several recent studies have pointed to the strong impact of social content marketing, specifically, content curation and news feed optimization. A brand’s dream comes true when consumers amplify brand content through active social engagement. Sharing of content lowers the overall cost of reach and, of course, builds awareness. A recent Comscore study revealed that 27% of Facebook browsing is done on news feeds compared to only 4% on home pages. This indicates that consumers are seeking dynamic content engagement versus static, one-way information. The study also illuminated the fact that brands optimizing their news feed posts, versus developing apps for their Facebook pages, are also likely to reach the most people.
Facebook marketing is similar in many respects to SEO. Just as you optimize your website for better search performance, Facebook content is optimizable for superior fan engagement. And, our research shows that increased audience engagement brings markedly higher click-thru rates, traffic and quality fan growth. Consequently, there has been a great deal of chatter about Facebook EdgeRank, the algorithm that governs how posts are prioritized in users’ news feeds. The main factors that control post visibility are described in this graphic from a presentation given by Facebook engineers Ruchi Sanghvi and Ari Steinberg at the 2010 f8 developer conference describing Facebook’s EdgeRank.:
If confused you’re not alone, let’s see if we can simplify this a bit more.
- Affinity: This refers to the level of activity between the brand’s fan page and the consumer, primarily around content. Is your audience actively commenting on, sharing and “liking” your content? If so, your content’s EdgeRank should be rising.
- Weight: Much like InfiniGraph’s trend score on content interaction rates, Facebook places different values on each type of interaction. For example, check-ins and comments have greater value than likes.
- Time Decay: The older the interaction, the less relevant the relationship is. If your consumers have not recently interacted with your brand content or fanned the brand page or your content is not fresh, your EdgeRank will suffer.
Calculating EdgeRank is similar to measuring brand relevance and if a page’s content has a low rank, the fans will most likely never see its content. Like we said, actions rule the day and Places check-ins, shares, comments and likes being the lowest all determine the interaction impact. A recent post cites the finding that only 3%-10% of your Facebook fans are even seeing the posts you make. Here we list ways to use content optimization to lift your brand’s posts above the news feed noise.
(1) Time your posts: Just because you have lots of fans, doesn’t mean you have good engagement. You will generate much greater interaction if your content is relevant and you post at the right times. For example, research shows that weekend postings can do just as well as or better than weekday postings. We have verified these findings with our own testing as has HubSpot’s Dan Zarrella. Your consumers are not 9-5; nor should your content be. Here’s one client example that showed triple digit percentage increases in traffic with more active posting on weekends and certain weekday time periods.
(2) Post frequently: Under-posting can lead to time decay which is an EdgeRank killer. If a fan hasn’t clicked on one of your posts for over a year, they may never see your posts in their newsfeed again. Optimization, like keeping fit, is a constant process. Unsubscribes will rise with increasing post frequency; however, it’s important to ask whether those fans were actually spreading your brand’s word in the first place. Increased engagement is the goal here and your reach does as well through consistent posting of relevant content that your active followers want to consume and share.
(3) Repost the good stuff: Trending content is ideal for reposting because your audience is giving you the “thumbs up.” InfiniGraph scores and ranks trending content to help brands identify which of their posts have resonated most strongly across Facebook and Twitter simultaneously We have consistently seen that reposting trending content on the weekend dramatically improves impressions, CTR and overall interaction. Also, refreshing your trending posts, perhaps with a question for your followers, and republishing them generates even greater engagement. If you don’t repost trending content, you risk missing active followers at peeks times. The graphic below shows another example of the increased visits and pageviews generated by reposting. The positive impact of reposting compounds because more engagement from new fans has a direct impact on EdgeRank. In our next case study, we will present more data on how a major publisher improves margins with optimization.
(4) Broaden the conversation: Don’t “always be selling.” Think of your brand as a media company or publisher (see our last post). Just as NBC tries to attract more viewers by offering superior programming, a brand using social media has to provide appealing content that motivates your fans to engage. This might be a company video, but could also include a relevant blog post by third party, the results of an industry study or a survey on a topic of interest to your brand community. Social media marketing leader REI actually tries to maintain a 75/25 ratio – 75% of their published content is general interest in nature and only 25% directly promotes the brand and products.
(5) Cross pollinate: If your brand has more than one Facebook and Twitter presence, leverage that to post content from one channel to the others. Also, other outbound channels, such as your website or email newsletter, can use content that drives users back to the Facebook page for further engagement.
The reality is not enough brands are posting what’s relevant to their audiences to increase overall engagement on their brands. Existing and new pages must have a strong content strategy as well as a thoughtful, consistent optimization plan. The key point is that intelligent curation is absolutely critical in determining relevance to your audience members and in keeping them engaged. What are you posting outside of product updates to engage your fans and what content marketing strategies or examples can you share?
OK some plugs here ….. Please vote for the SXSW 2012 panel we’re on, ” “The Future of Content Monetization and Publishing” and come see us at Socialize West, Oct 21st in San Francsico. Our talk is on “Optimizing Social Media : Making Real-time Decisions with Real-time data”.