Want to know the secret about Facebook marketing? It's not the blog post that goes viral. It's the Facebook post.
I've been poking fun at the social media marketing community a bit lately, and pointing out the gradual decline in Facebook's numbers, but I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea. Facebook can be a powerful place to connect with audiences and spread awareness, assuming your ultimate goal is to get those people on an email list and buy something.
(Most people at least see the headlines of everything in their email feed. Nobody sees everything that shows up in their Facebook feed.)
Today I decided I'd walk you through what makes a successful post on Facebook, and how you can manage to make it work for you without it becoming the massive time sink that so many self-proclaimed social media marketing gurus want it to be for you. So let's get started.
Stop Posting the Wrong Things
Most self-proclaimed social media gurus will tell you that you need to pour hours and hours into building relationships with your audience through casual conversation. I disagree. I think you should pour hours and hours into building relationships with influential people, and understand a few simple things about what gets shared.
Today we're talking about that second part: understanding what gets shared on Facebook.
Quicksprout recently shared their data-driven conclusions about the anatomy of a perfect post on Facebook. Basically, the conclusion they arrived at is that you should create posts like this:
In other words:
- Images stand out, draw more attention, and get shared more than anything else
- Images need to be accompanied by text that offers some context
- Don't bother posting links. Post images with links.
So, what kinds of images should you be using, and how can you do all of this if you're not a photographer or graphic designer?
Look at the Stuff in Your Feed
Most of it doesn't look professionally produced, does it? It probably looks something like this:
Well, those came from Some Ecards and Live Meme respectively, and if you can type, you can make your own on those very sites. And odds are pretty good you'll get more re-shares, likes, and comments using those than trying to design something yourself.
Understand the Psychology of Viral Action
While nobody can guarantee any Facebook post will go viral, you can guarantee better results if you learn to internalize Jonah Berger's principles of virality:
- Social currency - We're more likely to share something if it makes us look better
- Triggers - People feel compelled to share things that are related to current events and relevant to the surrounding context
- Emotion - Fear, anger, and more effectively, humor and awe compel us to share
- Public - People like to follow the example of others, and nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd
- Practical - People love to share information that will help other people's lives
- Stories - We're more likely to share information if it's presented as struggle and resolution
You want to fit as much of this as possible into a single image that portrays it very quickly. The most important multipliers here are humor and awe. When something makes us laugh, and it unmistakably comes from outside of our own mind, we are more likely to share it than anything else.
Consider one of my very favorite Facebook pages, I F***ing Love Science, and their posts, like this:
Why does a post like this get 76k likes? (Not that likes are the best metric, but, hey, it's all I've got.)
- It's funny, so everything else gets multiplied
- It touches on current events
- It touches on subject matter that makes its audience angry
- It tells a very simple story
- When we share all of this with like-minded people, it helps us maintain our social standing
Now take another look at that image. Does it look professionally polished, or does it look like something you could slap together in five minutes, even without the existence of things like Live Meme?
Now take a look at their number of subscribers on Facebook (again, not the best metric, not the one you should use, but the only one out there in the public):
Seems to be working. I think it will work for you too.
Image credit: Nate Bolt