Facebook recently changed the way users interact with content on fan pages: any user, including non-fans, can now post on fan page walls and like/comment/share fan page content. In other words, a Facebook user does not have to first like your fan page before they can interact with your content. This is a good thing!
Since this change, the emphasis has shifted slightly from gaining more likes (fans) to increasing the number of shares on each piece of content. When you craft your fan page updates in a manner that naturally inspires fans and their friends and visitors to your page to share with their networks, you set in motion ripples of viral visibility. Basically, free additional exposure.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been observing which posts from fan pages and from personal profiles (with Subscribe enabled) garner the largest amount of shares. I also recently asked my Facebook fans and friends forexamples of great posts with large numbers of shares. Following are seven tips I’ve compiled for you that seem to help create the most shares:
1. Use an eye-catching image.
Your photo should make people laugh, cry, or go “awww!”
Photos on Facebook have always gotten a slightly higher EdgeRank score, which means better visibility in the News Feed. But, don’t necessarily use an image on every single post; keep it interesting by mixing in links, videos, questions (app), and text only updates.
A fun example is this “social network flowchart” by Breaking Copy – shared on Facebook by “Caribbean King” on October 20th that garnered a whopping 14,642 shares – see screenshot below. (Hat tip to Susie Daniels for the link to the post).
Example Facebook post with over 14,000 shares
The only narrative with the image was a smiley face “:D” – but, given the humor and relevance of the chart to pretty much anyone who saw it, the image gathered huge momentum. Currently, though the Caribbean King has just 673 fans (likes), his “People talking about this” number is 5,002. For most fan pages, to have a “talking about this” number over 7x greater than the number of likes is unusual. (I’ll save the in-depth discussion about the new public-facing “people talking about this” stat for a separate post. My quick advice, though, is do not waste too much time obsessing over this number. Instead, focus on posting quality, relevant posts that people naturally want to share.)
I came across Breaking Copy’s social network flowchart on November 1st when a friendshared it on my Facebook personal profile wall. I found the creator so I could give proper credit (Daryl Lang), and shared the image on myGoogle+ profile, where it ended up with over 1,480 shares. (And, an edited version by Carmelyne Thompson got 1,105 shares). Though Google+ is gaining in users and momentum, clearly Facebook’s vast userbase makes for significantly more shares. 10x in this one example if we just compare Caribbean King’s Facebook post to my own Google+ post.
When you do share photos, make sure they look great and are eye-catching in a smaller version, given most people will see a reduced size in their News Feed and/or mobile app. Other photo examples with large numbers of shares include:
NFL Quarterback Tim Tebow‘s photo from a friend in Afghanistan with over 2,800 shares. (Thanks to Amy Thomas Polk for the link).
A humorous map of Australia with funny Q&A from the Australian Tourism website, posted by Sam Bush, with19,600+ shares! (Hat tip Mehdi Benaniba for the link).
Disney‘s “Life is all about perspective” – cute photo of Bambi and possums with 8,200+ shares. (Thank you Hana Zima for the Disney tip). Note this post has a very short narrative (tip #2) and is written in a way anyone can share (tip #3).
2. Keep the narrative short.
A study by Buddy Media showed that posts 80 characters or less in length receive 27% higher engagement rates. Considering how much content flies by fast in the new moving Ticker at the top right of your Facebook home page, and also in the News Feed, it makes sense that a shorter post will catch Facebook users’ attention quicker.
A fun example is this post by my friend Melonie Dodaro with a cute puppy and teddy bear, which got over 1,700 shares. Melonie shared this on her personal profile – with 4,816 friends and 718 subscribers. Note the narrative Melonie included: “How adorable is this?! Go ahead and share it.” This one example, in fact, makes use of the first four out of my seven tips here: it’s a (cute) photo, the narrative is short, it’s not written in first person, and there’s a call to action to share it.
Example Facebook post with over 1,700 shares
3. Keep first person to a minimum.
Even though I’m a big fan of writing in first person whenever possible, as it creates more warmth and connection with your audience, in order to increase your shares on Facebook, you might want to experiment with keeping the wording more generic. Write in a way that could sound like it was coming from others. As with Melonie’s example above “How adorable is this?!” could be said by anyone.
You can always use first person in your comments when responding to bring in the more personal touch.
Here’s a cute image I created using Snagit to illustrate one of my favorite Steve Jobs’ quotes: “You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” The upbeat narrative I included was, “A special thought for the day!! A good reminder to just GO for it. (Probably still a good idea to wear clothes though, hehee!).” 105 shares from my personal profile.
Follow your heart - Steve Jobs quote shared on Facebook
4. Include a call to action.
Invite your friends, subscribers, fans and their friends along with visitors to your page to share your posts with their friends, subscribers and fans. Simple calls to action such as “Click like if you agree” often work well, so long as the preceding statement/question is relevant. Asking people to add their comments is good too. But, it’s the Share that will likely create the greatest exposure for your page/profile.
This image of 3-D sidewalk art posted by Gallery 2166 simply says, “Dare you not to share this. It’s too amazing.” Yep – 11,449 Facebook users have shared the image so far! (Thanks Jamie Burnett for the link to the image).
Sidewalk art - Facebook post with over 11,000 shares
5. Write about timely topics with helpful tips and resources.
Given the rapid changes on Facebook and the constantly moving social media landscape in general, there’s oftenplenty fodder to share up-to-the-minute tips, new strategies, and useful resources on your Facebook pageand/or profile. These types of posts can be any length and might include links and/or photos or videos. The point is your Facebook network and extended community will find extreme value in reading and sharing the post.
This example from my own fan page is a post with seven tips for staying safe on Facebook – which received 247 shares. I wrote the udpate on the back of Mashable’s blog post about Facebook stating that a staggering 600,000log-ins per day get compromised. Note the use of the simple, eye-catching image.
Example timely post - 7 Tips To Stay Safe on Facebook
Here’s another example from my fan page where I dispelled a couple of erroneous memes flying around Facebook: one asking users to unsubscribe from their friends’ comments and likes, and another talking about Facebook’s plans to charge for membership (both are not accurate!). The post received 516 shares.
If you’re in an industry that changes rapidly, keep your finger on the pulse and see what timely topics you can write about. Then, with the Facebook posts that do well, repurpose by turning them into posts on your blog.
6. Experiment with longer content.
Despite tip #2 above, now that Facebook increased the maximum update size from 420 characters to 5,000 characters, try writing a “mini-blog post!” Per my tip #5 above, so long as the content is timely, relevant and helpful, you stand a greater chance of getting lots of shares.
7. Share a great cause.
Surf Dog Ricochet posted this precious dog photo with a call to action: pet supplies company Iams had agreed to donate 50 bowls of pet food for shelter animals for every comment on the photo, up to one million bowls. The photo broke the record in just over 24 hours. Though the one million bowls of pet food goal has been attained, the image is still gaining comments and shares. So far: 21,439 comments and 4,180 shares! (Hat tip to Kristi Robertson for the link to this post).
Example great cause with over 4,000 shares
By the way, keep in mind that Facebook has strict rules around promotions; the #1 rule to know is you need to use a third party app if you’re going to conduct any kind of drawing, sweepstakes, contest, or competition. Your own content in an iFrame app qualifies so long as you include the correctly worded disclaimers. See this post for more information.
Share more videos
And a bonus tip, from Ryan Cohn of What’s Next Marketing:
Among large audience clients (celebrities and brands), we typically see the most shares coming from unique/interesting videos. Usually these are behind-the-scenes peaks, though we’ve seen great sharability from loved-but-forgotten YouTube videos too.
You may find that these tips are equally effective for increasing your number of shares on Google+ too.
…and, one more tip for you on the subject of shares: Whenever possible, take time to click through and thank those who share your content. On Facebook, this is really easy to do as the Shares show in a popup window and you can easily click like and add a quick comment. People love to be acknowledged. What have you found that’s working well on your own profile and/or fan page? What catches your eye on other profiles/pages and compels you to want to share with your own networks? Please do share below and feel free to include permalinks to examples so others may benefit. Thank you!