15 Facebook Tricks

Running a successful Facebook fan page is often more about science and accuracy than about socializing. You probably already know this from your personal page – you can post great content at the wrong time or under an unattractive title and it will hardly be noticed. The AutoCAD WS app Facebook fan page now exceeds 200,000 fans (for a B2B app! not a company). I’ve had the honor of working on that fan page from the ‘create new page’ step and up to the point, it reached 100,000 fans. During that time I learned a lot. Especially that simple tweaks and tricks can leverage your content significantly. Here are 15 tested ways to get more likes, shares, comments, and impressions, all involve small details that are really easy to implement.

Best ways to get noticed when posting to Facebook:

1. Share links and videos as images

This trick is almost magical – it usually doubles the impressions and likes. When you share a link or a video on Facebook it’s, mmm… how should I put it, well, small. You get a small rectangle with a tiny image. Instead of using a link I upload a great picture from the post or the video and paste the link as part of the text above the picture. The logic is simple – the more real estate you take the more likely you are to be noticed, when it comes to the newsfeed, the bigger the better. Mailchimp’s blog post describes how they’ve 3X the number of likes they receive by using images rather than plain links.

Post As Image

Posting about my blog in two different methods – using a link vs. using an image. Which one would you notice?

images Over Links

iTunes Facebook page always use pictures to link to albums. They also tend to pick different images than those in the original link to maximize the interest.

2. Your fans aren’t interested in a “new post”, write the actual content

You’re working hard on maintaining a high quality company blog, and you’ve just published an awesome new post. Facebook is the first place to share it. We discovered that expressions such as “new post” or “new tutorial” won’t get most readers to click, even when you elaborate more about the ‘new’ item. Instead, we create an interesting Facebook post with the key points or quote part of the post, together with a ‘read more’ (and a large picture, of course).

3. Most users don’t enter albums

 The ratio between the number of reactions to a picture which is posted by itself to a picture which is part of an album is usually around 1:20. Yes, if a standard picture receives an average of 100 likes on your page, one in an album will probably receive about 5. There are definitely some cases where you’d still like to use albums, but remember the downsides. When you do : a). Plan well how your album will look on your fans’ feed, that’s the only way most of them will see it. Carefully choose the first the 2nd, 3rd and 4th images. Make sure they don’t resemble each other too much, even if the order is wrong. b). If you have killer content – don’t place it in an album.

itunes Album

Great example of an album posted by iTunes (interesting cover, very different images) which still receives about 10% of the likes a usual image (not an album) gets.

4. New feature? Don’t use a screenshot – Visualize it

Competing with hundreds of other items on your fan’s newsfeed is not an easy task, you’ll have to elbow your way in among cute cats, geeky memes and pictures of ex-girlfriends. A new feature announcement is probably one of the most important news you want your users to notice. Instead of using a screenshot, which many of your users are likely to ignore, use an image which represents the new feature. By using a powerful image your fans will be able to understand the feature in seconds and it will stand up among other items on the newsfeed.

dropBox GPS Visual Feature

5. Prefer rectangular or centralized images to avoid quirky outcomes on your timeline

While your images will always look great on the newsfeed, they will eventually be bound to a 400*400 px cell on the timeline, for good. Wide and narrow images will be cut, sometimes leaving the punch outside or showing cut text. Plan your picture in advance so that it looks best in a rectangular format.

cut Timeline Images

Big Quote is a great Facebook page with inspirational quotes. Due to a long and narrow format they picked, when browsing through the timeline the quotes are usually cut.

How to get more comments, shares and likes

6. Want to get more comments? Ask closed questions

From my own experience and after observing different fan and personal Facebook pages for a while, I discovered that asking your audience to select between 2-4 options usually drives the number of comments through the roof. It can be a new feature selection, a name, a design or even a ‘what to wear’ alternatives. It can also be a simple question with a one word answer – such as which mobile device do you use or a numeric question. Try it. Tip : yes-no questions usually don’t work as well as picking alternatives, I would avoid the ‘have you tried our X?” type.

How many cupcakes?

Not such an interesting question and still – 65 comments from 15K fans at the time

What should I wear to my TED talk?

One of my favorite examples, “What should I wear at my TED talk?”, 4 not so different options, 317 likes and 1078 (!) comments. Which one won in your opinion?

7. Allow users to tag themselves

You can change your page settings to allow your fans to tag themselves. Letting a user tag himself in a picture is much more powerful than a like or a comment and you’re more likely to go viral. You probably don’t have pictures of your users for them to tag but you can look for something which represents them in a way. Here’s one example which worked well for us – asking Android users to tag themselves on the device they have.

tag yourself

Asking our Android users to tag themselves on the device type they’re using.

8. Just Ask (nicely)

While I’ve been using Facebook from its early days, I must confess that I only recently started using Twitter, probably 5 years too late. When I started using Twitter I checked which type of tweets are most likely to get retweeted, the answer across the board was – those which are asked to be retweeted. Same goes for sharing on Facebook. If you ask your users to share, they are more likely to share. Yes, it’s easier to explain why you should share a picture of a puppy looking for home than of your new feature but when done in a smart and sensitive way it can work. If the content you’re posting can have value to your fans’ friends it can work well. Approaching specific groups might do the job as well (for example, share with your student friends). This fascinating research by HubSpot indicates that the Facebook content which produces the most shares, likes and comments is, well, the one asking for it.

9. Like ‘the Likers’

We all know it but we’re never sure how to explain it – there is a small group of fans who are always the first to like your posts, no matter what you post. They may think your product is the best thing that ever happened to them or they may just be misusing Facebook, it doesn’t matter. This avid fan group is important since other fans are more likely to react and comment to a post which has some activity on it. Maintain a good relationship with these fans – it’s nice to send them a thank you message once in a while, to personally Facebook friend them or to like some of their content back.

10. Habla Espanol? Fans come from all over the world

Posting from time to time in a different language may drive a lot of reactions. Have product news related to Spanish? You were covered by a large Italian blog? Reached a certain user milestone in Brazil? Use Spanish, Italian or Portuguese. While some say that it’s relevant only to a small portion of your fans, so is some of the other content you usually publish.

DropBox Spanish

DropBox posting in Spanish and receiving 1605 likes. Just for comparison, a post about a new feature from the very same day gets just 336 likes.

 Most popular content types  

11. Use team pictures in context of your product

I’m a huge advocate of using pictures of the team but when you post “cool guys hanging out at a cool office” type of pictures you’re creating generic content, that’s not the reason your fans follow your page. Once you share a picture which is relevant to the product such as the team working on a new feature or celebrating a milestone you share interesting information and create an emotional reaction, because you are using people. When done right these pictures usually get the most impressions and likes.

team In Context

Image of a team member testing our Android app before releasing it to the Google Play.
Got lots of likes from Android fans.These kind of images worked very well for us.

12. Sneak peeks, design previews, sharing plans

based on our experience and other product pages as well, one of best content types you can share is about work in process. This is how you make your Facebook fans feel special and that there’s an added value for them to follow your page. This content doesn’t have to be polished and ready, sometimes a sketch, a half baked design or an initial idea can be more intriguing for your fans than the usual shiny screenshots.

13. Examine most liked content of other fan pages

One of the things I constantly do is to check which content type, published by pages similar to mine, drives the most reactions. Unlike a twitter account or a company blog, tracking which items received the most likes, shares and comments on Facebook takes only a few minutes. It’s also very interesting to discover which kind of content is the most ignored. To get some inspiration and fresh ideas here is a list of 20 great Facebook fan pages.

The don’ts :

14. Posts about your product should lead to your Facebook page, not the other way around

“Oh, another great review about our app? Lets post it on Facebook!”. We really want to share all the awesome things people are writing about our product but if a user is already a fan of your product he or she probably knows it’s a good product by now. Sure, it’s fine to post other publications once in awhile, especially when coming from a well known blog or a newspaper but it makes more sense that press releases will bring traffic to your product and not the other way around.

15. Think twice before posting generic content (Christmas, elections, etc)

Coming back to standing out among other items on your users’ newsfeed. During holidays and other events such as the elections or Olympic games your users’ newsfeed is probably going to be flooded with this kind of content anyway, so your content will hardly be noticed. Facebook also tends to group items around the same topic (“John and 14 others posted about Halloween”) and that’s one place you wouldn’t like to find your beautiful Halloween picture at. However, creating unique content which is relevant to small events usually works very well and generates many shares.

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