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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Yes, you can create video content: Busting video myths

Video content is a marketing conundrum.

People love watching video. It’s content gold, but it’s a marketing challenge. Some marketers are hesitant to use it because video content creation is often misunderstood.

Today I want to set the record straight on video. Anyone can create an effective video, and it’s easier than you may think. Let’s bust some video myths:

Myth #1: I don’t know if my audience is interested in video

They are and I have the stats to prove it:

Instagram's tools allow you to edit your video's length. And yes, this is a video of my cat :)

Instagram’s tools allow you to edit your video’s length. And yes, this is a video of my cat 🙂

Myth #2: You need fancy, expensive equipment to create a video

Nope. If you have a smartphone, that’s all you need – no high-end video equipment, no expensive video editing software. What counts here is the content. Your video has to be interesting, engaging and useful for your audience.

And there are plenty of free video apps like Vine and Instagram. When Instagram recently added video, it included features that allow you to edit for length, change colors with filters, and pick your own cover image.

Myth #3: I need to spend a lot of time creating a long video that includes a lot of information

No you don’t. In fact, please don’t. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve worked on over the years for organizations that insist on long videos built to satisfy the needs of their internal organizations (bosses, board of directors, etc.). Your audience will not watch them because they were not built for them. They were built for the hierarchy of your internal organization. The only views they get are from the meeting or event the video was built for, and that’s it. A few years ago, I worked on projects that involved spending hours of dividing videos of long speeches into multiple parts of YouTube sized chunks. No one clicked on them.

Just because YouTube allows you to upload 15-minute-long videos doesn’t mean that you should. People have short attention spans. You’ll lose 10% of your viewers within the first 10 seconds.

So how long should your YouTube video be? The average I’ve seen on marketing blogs is between 2 and 3 minutes. Try testing different lengths. YouTube’s analytics will give you stats on the average time people spend on your videos, and at which point your viewers drop off.

Myth #4: Written content is better for my SEO

You absolutely need written content but video will drive visitors to your website, blog and other digital assets. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google – which owns YouTube. And 70% of search results are videos. So the more video content you have, the more likely it will be found in a search.

What’s holding you back now?

Hopefully nothing. Grab your smartphone and start shooting video! Got video questions or myths you want to be busted? Let me know in the comments.

Ask Azure: Should I link to my email newsletter signup form in more than one place?

QuestionOne of my friends – who is a marketer for a small business – recently asked me this question:

Q: When people request a free sample or download our manual, there’s a link on those pages to sign up for our newsletter. I was thinking of adding the link to the automatic email they receive after they fill out the form for the sample or manual. Is that too much?

A: The short answer is no.

And here’s a long answer and explanation to back that up. When I switched careers from journalism to higher education PR/social media marketing about a decade ago (oh man, I’m old), I had a tough time with content reuse and using the same links on multiple web pages. “Won’t people get sick of seeing the same thing all over the place?” I thought.

But here’s the thing: People don’t pay attention. They’re not seeing the same thing over and over again. Why?

  • People don’t enter your website through the same place and take the path that you use or laid out for them to discover information. Maybe you have a link to your newsletter on your homepage (which you should have anyway!). But what if your most popular page is your events calendar? What if people find your blog first when they do a Google search? You never know how, when or what page people first enter your website. So if there are important resources or actions you want people to take, make that part of your template for every page.
  • Your audience is not the same group of people across your platforms. Your website visitors, blog readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and Pinterest board followers might have some overlap, but all of those people are not going from channel to channel to follow your every move. Some might not know you have a presence in other places. Or they might forget to check! That happens to me all the time. I’ve been a fan of HGTV on Facebook forever, but did not even think about following them on Twitter until I saw one of their commercials that featured fan tweets. And right after I typed that sentence, I realized that I was not following the HGTV Pinterest boards either. Done! My point:  If you’re posting to one network more than others, the people on your other channels who aren’t following you there might miss it. And – for those of us who are following you on other channels – we’re all getting flooded with content, so even if we are following you on Facebook, we might miss a post there, but could see it in your newsletter or on Twitter instead.
  • No one is going to notice but you. Who knows every link, every photo, every bit of content on your website, blog, email newsletters, autoresponder emails, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+? You, your boss, and anyone else who works on marketing for your business. Everyone else is coming and going quickly, and bouncing along to the next thing. You are the only one scrutinizing your Facebook page for hours and hours. Reusing links and content is going to only look repetitive to you because you’re the only one seeing it everywhere.

Got a question? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to ask in the comments or send it to askazurecollier@gmail.com.

Search and discover: Secret tips to finding and learning more about your connections on LinkedIn

I have more LinkedIn connections than Facebook friends – 371 on LinkedIn and 269 on Facebook. That’s because of my personal rules for adding people to those networks. I’m happy to connect with people on LinkedIn who I’ve worked with, known in person, or crossed paths with digitally. But I really don’t want all of those business contacts to have access to the personal details I share on Facebook.

Since Facebook tends to be a place where the conversation mostly leans toward personal than professional, I’ve found my LinkedIn community to be a place where I can learn more about the people in my network, tap into their collective skills of the people in my network, and discover new connections. And LinkedIn has a few resources to help me do that – some “secret” resources that you might not know about.

LinkedIn InMaps

This is my favorite LinkedIn feature. LinkedIn InMaps is a product of LinkedIn’s analytics team, and is an “interactive visual representation of your professional universe, based on the relationships between your connections.” InMaps organizes your contacts into color-coded clusters, and it’s pretty easy to tell what past jobs and connections have influenced each cluster.

Here’s what mine looks like:

Azure Collier LinkedIn InMap

The most interesting part of my InMap is the connections I’ve made during my current position at Constant Contact. I’ve been there a little over 2 years, and that’s the largest cluster of connections – even larger than connections by positions I’ve had for 4 or 5 years.

You can also see which people you’re connected to in your network are connected to others in your network, just by clicking their name. The larger that person’s dot is, the more shared connections you have.

Azure Collier LinkedIn InMap Connections

In this example, you can see visually who my colleague Dave Charest is connected to – their threads are darker than the non-connections. The right sidebar of the page lists that connection’s title, resume highlights, and some of your shared connections; there’s a link you can click on to see all of your connections.

LinkedIn Mobile Calendar

LinkedIn’s mobile app allows you to sync your phone’s Outlook calendar with your LinkedIn contacts so you can get to know more about the people you’re meeting and working with. To get started, click on the blue LinkedIn logo on the app, then choose calendar, and allow access to your phone’s calendar.

LinkedIn Mobile Choose Calendar

The calendar sync function automatically pulls invitees’ profiles and adds their photos to your scheduled events. In my case, most of my meetings are with people I already am connected to, but this is a great tool if you have meetings scheduled with people who are new to you, or are from other companies.

LinkedIn Mobile Calendar

Alumni Search Feature

Curious to see if any of your fellow college alumni work in your area and in your industry? LinkedIn makes this easy to do with their alumni search feature. To use it, click on Network in the LinkedIn menu bar, and then choose Find Alumni.

LinkedIn Find Alumni

LinkedIn will automatically pull alumni for the college in your profile – if you have degrees from multiple colleges, you can choose the one you want to search for.

Choose which graduation years you’re interested in, and you’ll see the top 5 cities, companies and careers for alumni from that time period. Want to see results for a certain city, company and career? Click See more at the bottom of the top 5 to expand for more options. Click on the ones you want, and find alumni connections in your field.

I searched for all graduation years – there aren’t a whole lot of Purdue University grads in the Boston area, but it was interesting to see that there were some fellow alumni nearby who are in marketing and communications. Go Boilers!

LinkedIn Alumni Search

Need more LinkedIn tips? Check out this post to learn how you can add projects to your LinkedIn profile and show off your work!

How one small business creates great Facebook content

Anyone who uses Facebook for social media marketing is looking for that magic bullet of content: What can I post that will get my fans talking, make them loyal, and spread the word about my business?

One of my favorite local small businesses has figured it out. Modern Edge Art Bar is a studio in my area that offers BYOB painting classes, jewelry classes, birthday parties, and kids classes. I have taken 3 of the BYOB classes, and was thrilled as a non-artist that I could have so much fun with my friends and walk out with a painting I am proud to hang up at home.

When I first heard of Modern Edge last summer, and liked their page, they had a few hundred fans. Since then, they’ve grown to 1,200 fans and have expanded their business – last month they moved to a larger space, increased their staff, and added more classes.

I think that word of mouth had a lot to do with Modern Edge’s growth, and they’re getting great word of mouth through Facebook because of the engaging content they share. Here are 5 ways Modern Edge creates great Facebook content

1. They strike the right tone

Modern Edge doesn’t post bland text updates about products or services. They share information about their business in a friendly, helpful way. This post is about a possible painting for a future BYOB class – it got 33 comments and 133 likes.

Modern Edge Painting

2. Photos, photos, photos

There is no mystery about what happens in a Modern Edge art class. They post photos of what project the class will work on. They post during a class. They post photos of happy artists with finished projects. This is the cover photo they posted after a class I attended with my friends.

Modern Edge Cover Photo

3. Call to action/get people to share

Want to drive traffic to your products or services? Modern Edge has this down: tell people how many seats are left. Or ask your fans to share on Facebook for a chance to win a free class. This post got 47 comments:

Modern Edge Giveaway

4. They ask for their customers’ opinions

Modern Edge instructors are trained and skilled art teachers. But you can’t fill your classes if no one wants to learn what you’re teaching. They keep their classes fresh by asking their fans what they want.

Modern Edge Facebook Poll5. They’re not all business

This Bob Ross meme is spot-on. It’s about art and it’s entertaining to fans, which is why it got 53 shares.

Modern Edge Bob Ross

Need more help with Facebook marketing? Check out my other posts about Facebook!

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!

A lesson on Facebook EdgeRank: Fans miss out when they don’t engage

Like ButtonIt’s not a secret that – as a user of Facebook – you don’t see every single thing posted by people or pages in your little corner of the Facebook universe. It’s all based on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.

If you’re not familiar with EdgeRank, check out this nifty infographic by PostRocket – EdgeRank is Facebook’s formula that determines what a user sees in their newsfeed. It’s a complicated secret sauce, but the basic idea here is this: between your friends and the pages you like, there’s a lot of stuff being posted, and Facebook wants you see the posts that are most relevant to you. Relevancy is based on how much you interact with a friend or a brand page. The more you comment on, like or share posts, the more often that friend or page will appear in your feed.

Facebook has become a primary source of where we get our information about our friends’ lives, news, and what’s happening at local businesses. And if something’s not in your newsfeed, you’re missing out.

I experienced this in my life this week. It’s a small incident, but it illustrates the power of EdgeRank:

My friend Andrea and I take a Zumba class at our local gym. There are 2 instructors who teach the Zumba classes, and we prefer one instructor’s teaching style over the other. When we walked into the class this week, the other instructor was setting up. We saw a mutual friend and asked if she knew what was up – she said that the regular instructor announced on her Facebook page that she wouldn’t be teaching that day.

Not a big deal to most people, but it was to us. We left during the class, before the first song was over.

“We were on Facebook all day,” I said to Andrea. “Why didn’t we see this?”

And then it hit me: EdgeRank!!! (shakes fist and screams at the sky) I didn’t see the Zumba instructor’s post because I never interact with her content. My lack of engagement means those posts are hidden from my newsfeed.

Something else hit me: Marketers talk all the time about what brands need to do – create engaging content, share more visual content, think about the frequency of posts, and find out what days and times are best – but the fans have a responsibility too.

If you are really loyal to a business, it’s a good idea to interact with a brand on Facebook on a regular basis so the information you’re interested in is coming to you in the newsfeed. It can be as simple as liking a post, or you could take a few seconds to write a comment. Or – if it’s something you think your friends might enjoy – click that share button.

Another thing that helps? Use Facebook’s interest list feature and give yourself easy access to all the recent information from the pages you really want to keep track of.

Have you missed out on something because you didn’t see it on Facebook? Let me know in the comments!