We're now a year on from Facebook's major News Feed re-focus, which aimed to put more emphasis on personal engagement, while conversely reducing Page post reach. And definitely, the impacts of that change have been felt - while organic Page reach has been in decline for some years, most businesses reported significant declines in Facebook referral traffic over 2018. And while the key "solution" is to reduce your reliance on Facebook, given the network's size and potential reach, for many, that's easier said than done - the benefits, if you can get it right, are too much to ignore.
But getting it right is the real trick - what works best for maximizing Facebook performance in 2019?
That's the key question behind BuzzSumo's latest report - the team from BuzzSumo analyzed 777 million Page posts from 2018 in order to determine the optimal post length, post type and posting times, among other factors, that can help boost your on-platform performance.
Here's an overview of the key findings.
1. Video is the best performing post type
In what will come as no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to Facebook trends over the past five years, video remains the best performing post type on the platform, generating some 59% more engagement than other post types.
As you can see, the margin for video, in terms of generating engagement, is not even close, with 'Question' posts coming in second, followed by 'Photo' and 'Giveaways'.
If you want to win at Facebook in 2019, you need to be looking into video - in fact, Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith advises that brands should be looking at a mix of 70% video posts, 20% image posts and 10% link posts.
Video remains a key point of emphasis for Facebook, and as it continues to push it's dedicated 'Watch' video platform, you can expect that to continue. The Social Network hasn't wavered from its video commitment since 2014, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed that the platform would be "mostly video" within five years. That would put us into right now, where the stats above show that Zuckerberg was likely not far off in his prediction.
If you want to win at Facebook, video is where you need to be looking. There are more and more options on this front, more ways than ever to create video content. It's worth exploring what you can do in this regard.
Also, if you want to know how long your videos should be, BuzzSumo has also provided additional notes on optimal length.
2. Evenings are the best times post
This is always a difficult one to advise on, as, in many ways, it will be relative to your specific audience.
As noted by BuzzSumo:
"Every target audience is different, and therefore these global numbers may not work for you. However, it doesn’t hurt to look at them and use them as a starting point if you have no other data."
If you're looking to test posting times, BuzzSumo's data suggests that evenings see the most engagement:
There are likely various reasons for this - less competition in feeds (as most businesses are posting during the day), users more active after work, users more receptive as they look for a break from the day's stress. Various studies have shown that times outside of daily work hours perform best. This is not prescriptive, it won't apply to all Pages, but if you're looking to experiment, it may be a good place to start.
3. Weekends see the most engagement
Similar to the best times data, where times outside of business hours see better response, BuzzSumo's analysis shows that weekends also perform better in regards to Page engagement.
Again, this is not definitive, it likely won't apply to all businesses, but the reduced competition in feeds, along with users having more free time, leads to more engagement with Page content.
You also, of course, need to factor in your audience. If your audience is global, then these days and times will vary, region-by-region. Depending on who you're trying to reach, you need to consider how and when they're likely to be online, and when they're free to be browsing on Facebook, and factor that into your experiments.
4. Shorter posts perform better
BuzzSumo's data also suggests that shorter descriptions produce better results on The Social Network.
Various reports have found similar in the past - the numbers suggest that you're likely better off keeping your post descriptions as short as possible, and letting the post itself do the majority of the talking.
Again, this will differ - make sure you experiment with each element and see what results you get. You should also give each test some time - if you try short posts a couple of times and see no result, that might not be enough to come to a definitive conclusion. You should come up with a defined testing period - a few weeks or a month, so you have a good test pool to compare, then use that as your basis.
There's a heap more insight in BuzzSumo's full report, which is well worth a read for anyone looking to make the most of their Facebook efforts in 2019. As noted, while reducing your reliance on the platform is likely the best approach, and diversifying your traffic from other sources is key, Facebook does remain a huge driver, when done right.