Selling shovels to miners was a very profitable business in the gold rush days. Selling data to Facebook Page owners might be today’s equivalent. You can buy ads on Facebook, just like you can on Google’s pay-per-click advertising network. You can do friend and fan campaigns.
But what creates true engagement on Facebook? What can help you extract the meaningful data that helps you do a better job than your competitors?
Most of us think we know the answer, but a recent study and new analytics platforms are giving small business marketers the deeper insights that help them create stronger relationships. Here are some data points from a recent survey by Roost, a social marketing platform that evaluated more than 10,000 Facebook and Twitter posts by small businesses from over 50 industries. (Read my product review of Roost.)
Not All Posts Are Created Equal
Beyond the standard Likes, Comments, Shares and Retweets, this survey determines which posts yield the highest levels of interaction amongst local business fans and followers. As a semi-related aside, some marketers have decided it is better to buy followers or fans with ad campaigns. If you’ve contemplated that, read this 2011 Wall Street Journal post that shows ad blindness is on the rise (which means click-throughs are decreasing).
Photos Rule on Facebook
The two greatest engagement tactics on Facebook are Likes and Comments, with Likes leading the charge. Roost finds that the best way to achieve Likes is through photo posts, quotes and status updates, with photos providing 50 percent more impressions on average than any other post type, and quotes providing 22 percent more interactions when compared to all post types.
Asking Questions Increases Engagement
Findings also show that questions generate almost twice as many comments as any other post type. The second most popular way to get fans commenting is through a compelling business status update. Facebook Shares are a great way to disseminate business and product messages across fans’ networks, and links are 87 percent more likely to be shared than any other post type.
Roost also evaluated Twitter usage and found that quotes drive 54 percent more retweets than any other type of tweet, with status updates being the second highest driver of engagement. So if you’re more active on Twitter, start sharing more quotes. In addition, a different study from Optify showed how the use of Auto-DM (direct messages) on Twitter decreased follower rates by 245 percent. (Read Optify’s blog post titled Auto DM Use Led to 245% Increase in Unfollow Rate.)
The Roost study essentially allows a small business to figure out which type of post drives engagement. As on many social network sites, visual options such as a photograph or video will spark more interest in the Facebook community. Selling shovels is definitely profitable, but most small business owners would rather be standing on the gold mine along with their customers.