Optimizing Facebook Engagement – Text, Links, Photos or Videos?

Posted on June 13th 2012

Optimizing Facebook Engagement – Text, Links, Photos or Videos?

Facebook Engagement is a critical issue for social marketers, not only because consumer interaction has become a cornerstone of the new marketing landscape, but also because Facebook Engagement is critically tied to brand visibility on the platform.

Facebook uses a proprietary algorithm called Edgerank to dictate the visibility of content in user’s streams. The effect of this is that much content may be either reduced in visibility or not shown at all to a significant percentage of a brand’s audience. And when there is a history of poor engagement levels, it can become an engagement death-spiral: low engagement produces low visibility, which in turn makes it harder to get high engagement.

Optimizing Facebook Engagement is a series of articles that uses the Track Social analytics platform, tracking more than 12,000 brands on social media, to analyze what works and what doesn’t when it comes to Facebook Engagement.

Throughout the coming weeks, we will present dramatic insights into how brands should engage Facebook users through content posted to their streams.

In this article we look at how the Type of Facebook Post  – Photos, Videos, Statuses, Questions and Links – impacts engagement.

For more details of the methodology of this study please see here.

For Facebook Engagement, Photos are king.

Looking at the results, though it perhaps comes as no shock that visuals and photos can grab attention, it might come as a surprise to see just how significantly photo posts surpass every other type of Facebook interaction.

As the chart shows, in terms of both Likes and Comments, photos far exceeded other post types in engaging consumer responses.  With a response rate up to four times that of some Post Types, Photos provoke a more visceral response and allow a more immediate reaction from consumers on Facebook. Questions (or Facebook Polls as they sometimes referred to) were competitive with Photo Posts in terms of eliciting a similar number of Votes in place of Likes.

Many brands are consistently using the least effective form of Facebook communication.

The least effective form of Facebook Post was the Link Post, where the brand gives Facebook a link, and allows Facebook to construct the majority of the post from the content on the webpage corresponding to the link. Shockingly, the most under-performing Post Type, was also the most commonly used. It seems that the act of merely passing on information is not one that is seen as engaging for many brands. For some companies such as news organizations, we can see how news dissemination can be effective; however on Facebook (unlike Twitter), users are more receptive to different types of content.

Perhaps most surprising of all, however, is the poor performance of video as an effective engagement tool.  The case can be made that video content is simply too demanding of the audience to generate engagement on a large scale.

People may be skeptical that corporate videos will not be worth their time.

On the other hand it can certainly be said that once a fan interacts with a video, there is a deeper level of engagement, and that this can be more valuable to the brand. Our results, however, are focused on the scale of engagement as opposed to the depth of individual engagement.

We have seen individual cases where video, as with all the content types, is a perfect fit for a given brand. It should be reinforced that the aggregate analysis conducted here can only be used as general guidance. Every brand should consider the nature of their positioning, product and audience in coming up with the right approach for them.

Track Social offers enterprise clients a customized analysis of Facebook Engagement as well as many other aspects of social media performance. For more information, go here.

Stay tuned for the next article in our series, which will look at the effect of Posting Frequency on Facebook Engagement. To sign up to receive alerts for our Facebook Engagement series and more, go here.

Morgan J. Arnold

Morgan J. Arnold

CEO, Track Social

Morgan J. Arnold is a marketing entrepreneur with a PhD in Engineering. Morgan is CEO of Track Social, the leader in Engagement Optimization.

Track Social monitors, aggregates and analyzes the Social Media accounts of thousands of businesses across multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Track Social provides a self-serve Analytics Platform as well as Professional Reporting, Social Advertising and Enterprise Consulting services.

Morgan is also CEO of Sprokkit, The Smart Marketing Agency.

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Dani Loebs
Posted on June 14th 2012 at 8:20PM

Great to see the data!  I think the problem with videos may be timing.  While many people are able to sneak a quick check of Facebook during work hours, they won't risk getting caught watching a video.  Most marketers are still posting content while they're on the clock (9-5pm).

I see much more success with videos after 8pm, when my target audience is home and they've put their little ones to bed.

Dani Loebs

Social Media Specialist


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Oak Alley Plantaiton
Posted on July 2nd 2012 at 12:02PM

Great article, and good comments from Dani!

The other critical tip I leave for SM specialists: none of these rules may apply to you, at all!  Keep in mind that these are averages, and while scientifically accurate, they may not directly relate to your specific audience or business type.

My suggestion: always test these against your actual audience before committing to a strategy.  Know your audience!


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