Facebook Strategies: Content Over Creative

Are you focusing your Facebook investment in the right place?

The immensely smart Jay Baer directed my attention to research conducted by Jeff Widman of Brand Glue, who found that 99.5% of comments on his clients’ status updates come from peoples’ newsfeeds, not from the pages themselves.

Interesting, right? As Jay notes, this means that a lot of effort which is expended on customizing fan pages on Facebook is, frankly, wasted.

The first time that people come to your page is absolutely the most critical. They’re not going to keep coming back for the sake of coming back. So, your job #1 as a steward of your brand’s Facebook page is to draw people to your page and maximize your conversion rate of visits to “likes.” Beyond that point, investment in “ongoing” features for pages may be money down the drain.

The continued rise of Facebook community managers

This shines the light firmly on community managers as the key to Facebook success for brands. As with so many other aspects of social media, it’s not all about having a flashy, creative, well-designed page layout. It’s not about dazzling people with creative gadgets. Success on Facebook depends on companies  providing interesting, valuable content that engages people through their home base on Facebook.

Facebook itself doesn’t make things easy for brands. Well, to be more specific, it doesn’t make things easy for brands who provide mediocre content. You see, Facebook doesn’t treat all content equally. The site uses an algorithm to prioritize content based on both recency and on engagement with that content. The key, then, with Facebook content, is to ensure that the things you’re posting actually drives people to interact with it rather than passively consume it. To do the latter is to ensure that the content appears in few peoples’ streams and is soon relegated to just appearing on your wall for the 0.5% of people who may interact there.

This isn’t universally true, of course. Specific initiatives can draw people to engage directly on your page (contests, for example). However, that kind of interaction isn’t sustainable from either side of the equation.

The rise of spacial marketing

My colleague Steve Rubel has begun to talk recently about a new dimension we need to add to our digital engagement: time. In an age of Twitter streams and Facebook news feeds, it’s no longer enough to post the right content in the right place. We need to post it at the right time, too.

Mashable yesterday featured research conducted by Vitrue into the days and times that Facebook users are most active. As they summarize:

  • The three biggest usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
  • The biggest spike occurs at 3:00 p.m. ET on weekdays.
  • Weekday usage is pretty steady, however Wednesday at 3:00 pm ET is consistently the busiest period.
  • Fans are less active on Sunday compared to all other days of the week.

To maximize our effectiveness, we need to take data like this and optimize our timing even further to reflect the activity pattern of our own community.

Shift your budget

The bottom line is that many marketers on Facebook are paying insufficient attention to content design while paying undue attention to creative design. While look and feel does matter, instead of spending the bulk of your budget on custom design and widgets, consider splitting that budget differently, with more of a focus on:

  • Converting people from visitors to fans – optimize your page; use tools like Kontagent to test and tweak your apps to get the best possible results
  • Effective community management – generating genuinely useful content and interacting with people in the community over the long term, and driving towards your objectives

Do you agree? How do you approach your Facebook activity?

12 Responses toFacebook Strategies: Content Over Creative

  • Lot to think about here, Dave. I think the single toughest thing for brands to do is be social and provide compelling content when they are so used to broadcast marketing and key messages. Research says be social. The best case studies are about brands that are social. And yet, it is such a culture/industry change that I have seen smart PR/Marketing pros talk the talk but then sit down to post from a brand account and upload a marketing message. Like it’s pre-programmed in us or something.

    Appreciate the info on time. I think Steve is right and I was always under the impression that early morning around 9 a.m. EST was one of, if not the, most popular times on FB and Twitter. Great info, Dave. Cheers.

  • Very interesting on the Vitrue research, although I think it’s possibly a bit skewed. I haven’t read it all yet, so I could be misinterpreting, but I believe they are saying that the most interactions occur within FB in the periods you describe. I’m not certain that’s the same time that most people are actually present on FB. I’ve seen other research that suggests as many as 65% of people never log in during the day (night and weekend users). Yet, businesses almost invariably post updates during the weekday. Consequently, the Vitrue research could be a self-fulfilling prophecy: conversations occur when status updates are posted, which isn’t the same as “optimal time to do so”

    Thanks for the shout out pal!

    • Hey Jay — thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts. I’d love to dig
      into those numbers – do you have any links?

    • obriennolan
      ago10 years

      @davefleet Great insight on timing Facebook content. I too am curious about when the best interaction times are, though I imagine this would vary based on who you aim to interact with. Please do share if you find anything!

  • Wow, I’m glad to read this. My focus with a client’s fan page has always been content (glad to see that validated as they have no budget for creative). We have, I’m pleased to say, experienced a steady increase in “likes” since spring. However, I’ve been looking at the links I post to figure out which types get the most interactions (mainly likes — conversations are rare, which is a concern, even when I ask questions). I’ve also tweaked times of day I post, though we have a lot of international fans in multiple time zones, so I’m not sure that can be optimized from our standpoint.

  • Paige N
    ago10 years

    I find this article very interesting. I do agree that what attracts people to your Facebook page is based on the amount of activity you have; and that is what keeps your friends interested in coming back. For an example, if you are the type of person who constantly updates your status, writes on walls, “likes” events and pages and post pictures, your profile is going to show up more regularly on your friends news feed compared to someone who is not on Facebook a decent amount of time. I also found that the days and times users were most active on Facebook were not any of the times I am. As a college student I find myself on Facebook way more often than I need to be. I find that college students are most active late at night and on Sunday’s. We tend to be on during these times because we aren’t in class and Sunday’s is when many people like to catch up on what their friends did over the weekend. Students are most likely to post new pictures and write on friends walls after the weekend.

  • This is fascinating. I am friends with Jeff and I’ll ask Jeff about this research. Twitter is all about the activity stream, so this is not too surprising that this is how conversations happen. Dave, I like that you stressed the importance of a community manager. It’s a problem because they increasingly need to justify their value-add.

    As far as best time to send out messages. I hope to have something to show you soon.

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    ago10 years

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    ago10 years

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