Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

3 steps to testing content for your Facebook page

A common question I hear from people using Facebook for marketing is “What kind of content gets the most engagement?” There’s no easy answer I can give you. But what you can do is test to find out what topics and types your audience is interested in. And you can also take advantage of marketing research that shows what kind of content gets a typical Facebook user’s attention.

That’s what I did recently in September when I started volunteering with the Leominster Office of Emergency Management (LOEM) and helping with their Facebook page. Before I became involved with the page, the organization had been posting text updates about severe weather warnings and links to news or information about public health, safety and emergencies. This was important information that the page’s fans needed to know, but it wasn’t getting them much engagement, spreading the word about what the organization and its volunteers does, or helping to grow their fan numbers.

What was missing from the page was original content, posts that show what happens behind the scenes at LOEM, and photos. If you want to increase your engagement, photos are a great start. Photos get 2 times the engagement of text posts. Photos are also the No. 1 content type shared by Facebook users.

So, for the month of September, I tried posting more of that type of content, and the results showed that this is what the fans want. Here’s how I tested the content:

1.       Testing Post Types

Facebook Insights Post Types

We posted 4 text updates during the month and tried 5 photo posts. The text updates included the weather warnings and information about a community event. The photos showed LOEM volunteers in action at a fire and at a booth during an annual festival, as well as a post known as a word image that combined a stock photo of a first aid kit and 4 emergency preparedness tips and a link to more information online.  It’s clear from the stats shown above in Facebook Insights that photo posts get the most reach and engagement.

2.       Measuring Likes, Comments and Shares

Facebook Insights Likes Comments SharesThough photos received more clicks than likes, comments and shares, fans are showed through digital body language by just clicking that they’re interested. Of course I’d love more likes, comments and shares on the page, but the clicks are a good start and indicate strong interest. The activity shows Facebook that these fans want to see our page’s updates in the news feed. And the actions of likes, comments and shares can be seen by our fans’ friends in their news feeds, which gives us greater reach, more exposure and potential page likes. The behind-the-scenes and LOEM in action photos are starting to help spread the word about what the organization does. Since the September tests, there have been a few fan comments thanking volunteers for their work.

3.       Posting When Fans are Online

Facebook Insights When Your Fans Are Online

In recent months, as Facebook has updated its Insights, page admins now have access to some great data about when fans are online. The stat – found when you click on the Posts tab in the new Insights –  shows an average  of how many of your fans are online during each day of the week, as well as during each hour of the day.

So I decided to post 3 out of the 5 photo posts specifically using the When Your Fans Are Online data. The majority of our fans who are online using Facebook are viewing the site from early afternoon to late evening on any given day of the week, from 4 pm to 9 pm. This is pure speculation on my part, but based on the time of day and the gender of our engaged fans (65% women, 40% of them are ages 25-44), many of them may hold day jobs and may be parents. They are using Facebook after work or after their kids are in bed, so they have time to browse Facebook. By posting during those hours, our content has a better chance of being seen in their news feed.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t solely rely on the When Your Fans Are Online stats. Make sure you’re testing other days and times as well. But the stats are a great start to helping you find a frequency sweet spot.

Results and Moving Forward

There’s a lot more that you can test when posting Facebook content, but just looking at these 3 factors helped us determine that trying visual content that showed what the LOEM was about is a great start to improving the page.  As more people interacted with and commented on our content, that engagement was seen by their fans, and that helped to influence fan growth. The LOEM page gained 10 fans in September. To some people, that may not be a lot, but to a small organization, those small gains are a fantastic step forward. We’re continuing to post photos and testing to see what other types or topics our fans will engage with.

Need more Facebook help?

Check out my other posts on Facebook marketing or ask your questions in this post’s comments.

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3 tools that will help you measure and optimize your Instagram engagement

Instagram isn’t the largest social network in terms of users (13% of Internet users have accounts) or businesses using it for social media marketing, but you can make a big impact with the content you’re creating there.

There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. You can easily share to Facebook, Twitter, and a few other sites through Instagram’s settings.
  2. People love visual content. If you share your Instagram photos to Facebook, they will receive between 120-180% more engagement than just a text-based post.
  3. You now have access to a lot of 3rd party tools that can measure engagement with your Instagram content – and show you some other nifty stats about your activity.

I’ve done a little digging recently, and thought I’d share some tools I found to help you get the most out of your Instagramming.

Statigram

I’ve mentioned Statigram before – as a tool you can use to create a Facebook profile photo from your Instagram shotsbut Statigram also has great statistics for your account.

Statigram Optimization

When you click on the Statistics tab, it will give you:

  • An overview of your total photos, likes, comments, followers. The overview also shows scores for your love rate (how much your followers like your photos), talk rate (how many followers comment on your photos), and spread rate (engagement from non-follows). Judging by those scores, I have a lot of work to do on my Instagram account!
  • A rolling month analysis – and this is exactly a month from when you’re currently accessing your stats. You’ll see the amount of content you posted during that period, engagement in likes and comments, and follower growth.
  • Content analysis from your first Instagram post, including total photos per month, a month by month and week by week comparison, which day of the week and hour you post the most, filter usage, tags, and geolocation.
  • Engagement statistics, such as the percentage of likes from followers and nonfollowers, likes compared to growth history, most liked photos, percentage of comments, comments compared to growth history, and most commented photos.
  • Optimization of your frequency and filters, and how they impact engagement. I think this is the most useful set of statistics. There’s a great chart that shows your current posting habits for days of the week and times, compared to when your followers interact with your photos. The places those intersect are your optimal posting date and time. You’ll also see a chart that shows the lifespan of engagement with a photo – how quickly people comment after you post a photo. There’s a graph that shows the filters you used, compared to comments and likes. It looks at your tags as well – what tags you use compared to the most popular tags.
  • Community statistics on your followers – who you’re not following back, who’s not following you back, and who are you following that follows you back – and your follower growth.

SimplyMeasured

SimplyMeasured’s free reports give you a look at multiple social networks, including Instagram. The best part about the Instagram report is the engagement activity. If you’re sharing to Facebook and Twitter from Instagram, SimplyMeasured will show you which channel is getting the most engagement for your images.

Simply Measured Engagement

In my case, Instagram ranked the highest, followed by Facebook and Twitter. Since I share photos mostly on Instagram, sometimes on Facebook, and rarely on Twitter, that makes sense. If I shared every photo on all networks, this report would give me a better idea of – all sharing being equal – what channel would give me the most engagement as far as Instagram photos.

SimplyMeasured also analyzes engagement among your Instagram activity – likes and comments per photo. And it shows engagement via Twitter and Facebook – tweets per photo, and Facebook likes, comments, and shares per photo. It shows your top photos for the last month, a keyword analysis – comments per keyword, and determines your best time and day for engagement. Not what I expected at all; it turns out my best time is 4-5 pm, and my best day is Friday.

Twtrland

A tool called Twtrland might throw you off – we’re talking about Instagram here. But in addition to Twitter analytics, Twtrland gives you stats for your Instagram profile:

  • Your follower count, and what percentage of your followers are novice, casual users, or power users.
  • Your average activity per week
  • Likes and comments per photo
  • Your most popular photos – my No. 1 is of one of my cats, which is a relief; I’m trying not to post too many cat photos. But I guess this just reaffirms that cats rule the Internet.

Twtrland

What I Learned

Based on these tools, my current Instagram habits, and common marketing knowledge, I know that I do need to post more (I have been slacking). My growth history from Statigram shows the more I post, the more engagement I receive and my follower count goes up.

I get good results if I’m posting photos during an event and tagging the pics with the event hashtag – more exposure because event attendees are looking for related content. The Simply Measures activity stats show that the weekend I posted during Blog Better Boston, my engagement went up. Hashtags count too – when I participate in the Photo a Day challenge, other participants are looking at the #fmsphotoaday hashtag, and are catching my content. And that explains why my most popular photos from the Twtrland stats are from the photo challenge.

Simply Measured Instagram Twitter Facebook

Stats from Simply Measured and Statigram show that I should be posting at 4 pm on Fridays, but weekend mornings and weekday evenings after dinner will get me steady engagement.

Simply Measured Frequency

How is Your Instagram Activity?

If you’ve used these tools, what did you learn? And if you have other tools to suggest, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

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How can your business get noticed in the new Facebook news feed? More visual content

A look at the new Facebook news feed (image from Facebook)

A look at the new Facebook news feed (image from Facebook)

The most important lesson from Facebook’s news feed upgrade announcement this week is this: multimedia is critical to your business’ success on Facebook.

Photos and videos will appear larger in the news feed – currently that content makes up 50% of the stream. And there’s a good reason for that. Facebook users are more engaged with multimedia than with text updates alone, or with text and a link. MBooth found that videos are shared 12 times more than link or text updates, and photos are liked 2 times more than text updates.

It makes sense. for Facebook users – your fans and followers – photos and videos are a huge part of their social media activity. A recent Pew Internet and American Life study shows that almost half (46%) of online adults post photos and video, while 56% have completed at least one photo-sharing activity.

For small businesses who are already using photos and video, the changes validate the time and effort they spend on creating that content. For those that aren’t, it’s time to take stock of your content creation for 2013, and change those New Year’s content resolutions. The top content types that small businesses in a BusinessBolts.com study planned to increase this year were written content; 53% wanted to focus on video, and 30% planned to increase photo creation. If your business placed multimedia towards the bottom of the list, your smartphone is going to be your new best friend.

The time is right for multimedia content, especially for small businesses on a small budget – no one has to purchase expensive equipment, or hire high-end professionals to show off their business. Everything you need is on your iPhone or Android. The tools are extremely easy to use, and you don’t have to spend hours on your photos or video. A couple of images in a small album or photo collage, or a short video (really short if you’re using 6 second clips from Vine) are all you need. If you haven’t already, download Instagram and Vine, and start capturing engaging, interesting visual content.

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3 tools that will turn your Instagram images into a Facebook cover photo

It’s been over a year since Facebook introduced cover photos for profile and business pages, and I’ve only changed mine 9 times. Why? That is a big space – 851 by 315 pixels. Whatever you put up there is huge, and you want it to be good, right?

That’s where Instagram comes in. Their filters and tools let you look like a photography rock star. Why not use all those great images you’ve been creating, and make them into your cover photo?

I’ve found 3 tools that will help you create a beautiful Facebook cover photo from your Instagram pics:

PicStitch

PicStitch (available for iPhone and Android) is a collage app with 70 different layouts. To create your cover photo, choose your layout, then click on Aspect in the tools on the bottom of the screen. After you choose Aspect, you have several sizing options; scroll until you see the one called FB Cover.

PicStitch FB Cover

To add your photos, click on any of the boxes in your collage layout and click the Edit tool. Then choose your Instagram images you’ve saved in your phone’s photo album or on Facebook. Once your photos are in place, click Export, and choose Facebook.

PicStitch Edited and Export

Statigram

Statigram is an Instagram management dashboard that tracks your Instagram stats, but did you know it’s another tool that you can use to make Facebook cover photo collage?

To get started, click the Promote tab, and scroll down to Profile Cover. Click the Create your cover button, and Statigram will automatically pull and size your images.

Statigram Create Your Cover Button

It takes a few minutes, but you get an easy-peasy way to create a cover photo. When your image is all set, right click it and choose Save image as to save to your computer. Then use Facebook to upload to your page.

Statigram Save Image As

InstaCover

The InstaCover site makes a Facebook cover photo that’s a bit similar to Statigram, but you get editing options. Start by choosing which Instagram account you want to pull from – it doesn’t have to be yours – by entering the Instagram ID. You could also make collages out of categories, tags, or photos you’ve liked. Choose your layout and spacing, and then click the Preview button.

Insta-Cover Choose Options

InstaCover pulls up a draft of your cover photo, which you can edit. Click the orange X in the top right of any photo to drag and drop to another spot, or delete it. When you delete it, InstaCover replaces it with another Instagram photo. Click the Final Preview button when you’re finished editing.

InstaCover Edit Drag and Drop

You’ll see the finished cover photo, and you can save it to your Facebook profile by clicking the Save to album on Facebook button.

Save InstaCover to Facebook

Changing your cover photo

None of these tools instantly changes your cover photo. You need to be on your page to do that.

Go to your Facebook page, and hover over the bottom right corner of your current cover photo. A Change Cover option will appear. Click Choose from Photos.

Change Cover

Select the new cover photo you just added to your Facebook page.

Choose from your photos

Voila! You now have a collage cover photo made from beautiful images you created with Instagram.

PicStitch Cover Photo

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Why I still use Instagram

I was late to the Instagram party – I joined just after they were purchased by Facebook in the spring. And after that, I just used it occasionally. My iPhone’s photo app was my main tool for smartphone photography.

I know there’s been a lot of grumblings and complaints about Instagram lately because of their terms of service changes, but I have really grown to love it for the following reasons:

1. Instagram helps you create beautiful images

I am not a professional photographer (disclosure: I am married to one!), but I do like to take nice, non-blurry photos that I can share. Instagram’s filters allow me to take my basic, stripped down images and make them more special. Take this image for example – here’s a photo I took of bangle bracelets at Adivasi, a funky Indian gift shop/small business in Brattleboro, VT.

Bangle bracelets - before

Photo taken with iPhone

Bangles After

Here’s the Instagram version – it’s cropped and I added the Kelvin filter.

The Instagram-edited photo is a much more vibrant image and I gave it a fun border. Better, right?

2. Instagram’s profile pages

Instagram recently gave all users profile pages, which is great. You can’t do a lot there, but you can see more of a user’s photos, and follow them from the desktop version. And having a public profile page is good for SEO.

3. Apps to enhance your Instagram photos

A co-worker introduced me to Pic Stitch, which allows you to create collages of 2 to 4 photos in 32 different combinations. I’ve also found Statigram, which will show you Instagram stats, your most popular images, and which filters you use the most.

My Nov. 11 photo of the day: The theme is night so I took a photo of a candlelight in one of my lanterns.

My Nov. 11 photo of the day: The theme is night so I took a photo of a candlelight in one of my lanterns.

4. Photo of the day projects

I started using Instagram on a regular basis when a friend introduced me to the November Photo a Day challenge from blogger Fat Mum Slim. I didn’t know it before, but apparently there are lots of photo challenge groups on the interwebs. Somehow I managed to complete all of the November photos. It’s a fun project, and having a theme every day makes you look at your surroundings a bit differently. As you go about your day, you start looking for possible objects or activities that complete the theme. It makes you think creatively. I tried not to repeat any of my subjects – I can’t use photos of my cats, wine, or my shoe collection for everything – and the themes are broad enough that you can put your own spin or interpretation on the challenge. If you’re interested, the January list is up – try it out!

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