Best Ways to Engage Your Customers on Facebook

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?

facebook like

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.


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

12 Reactions
  1. It took me a while to share this report, but as it posted today some interesting data came out from Roost that I thought I should share:

    -Small Businesses in Music, Entertainment and Luxury Goods have the highest Reach.
    -SMB’s in the Medical and Health industries are the loudest.
    -Music and Broadcast Media SMB’s are the most efficient with highest “Signal to Noise” scores

    You can read the full post here:

  2. For many, just getting people to “Like” you on Facebook is the biggest challenge, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses where a Like isn’t just a click away. But I agree, you’re a lot more likely to get the Like if your page has plenty of interaction with your posts, they aren’t overly promotional and you are being authentic.

  3. What’s nice about social media, in this case Facebook, is that the means that you need to use often benefit you in more than the one way in which it was intended. For example, creating conversations or asking questions is a great way to get ‘likes’ but these tactics also get people involved with your brand, bring your business name to mind, etc. Relationship building, through whatever means, seems to always pay off in multiples.

  4. Interesting information. I have seen with my own eyes the difference in facebook impressions and “likes” if I use a meaningful image in my posts.

    • Suzanne, i’ve found the same. Plus, it makes it a bit more fun and engaging to think about the proper image to use.

  5. Wow….i loved my read here. I am certainly going to implement these techniques to increase my production.Thanks TJ.

  6. Good article, a lot of good information. I always try to interact as much as possible on my company’s Facebook page. Especially with new “likers”.

  7. Thanks for all the comments. Robert, I appreciate your thoughts here — and for me, the genuine conversation and helpful info is what leads to the “like” that lasts. You can get a like with a coupon or special offer, but what’s the value of that relationship? I think there’s way too much fluff that doesn’t engage, but that’s life. One has to filter to get to the good stuff. The treasure seekers looking for the cheapest deal or free item are far from the best customers.

  8. It’s been curious that lately, I’m seeing plenty of pornographic and violent posts (pictures) shared on Facebook; makes you think that it’s becoming a trend lately. I have to agree with what you shared here. I’m loving those nice, positive quotes with visuals on Facebook a lot.