When you post a status update on Facebook, you do so hoping it will make an impression on your followers, right? While you may want them to smile, click through to your website, or leave a comment, there’s more involved than crossing your fingers and hoping they’ll like it. The elements below make up the anatomy of an engaging Facebook post.
The Mind of the Update: A Goal
All status updates should have a goal. In fact, you should identify the goal before you craft your post. After all, if you don’t know what you want your followers to do with a given update, how can you expect them to follow through and do it? Below are a few common social media goals:
- Like a post
- Comment on a post
- Drive traffic to your website, blog, or a landing page
- Enter a social media contest
- Share a post
- Listen to a linked podcast
- Offer an exclusive discount / drive traffic to site
Once you know what your goal is, you can then create a post that’s likely to elicit the desired response. For example, if you want to get a lot of likes to boost your engagement level, posting a funny photo will usually do the trick. Likewise, if your goal is to attract highly targeted new followers, you might run a social media contest and offer an enticing but relevant prize.
As you stare at Facebook’s status update screen, you’ll notice that Facebook asks you, “What’s on your mind?” Let’s rephrase this question to, “What do you have in mind?” Answer that question before you start writing and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goal for the post.
The Face of the Update: A Great Photo
Photos tend to get a lot of engagement, making it smart to use photos liberally throughout your social media campaigns. Use royalty-free stock photography sites such as Morgue File, Creative Commons, and Every Stock Photo to find free images that you can legally use. Pay attention to the photo’s license and follow its terms appropriately. You may even want to add a text link back to your main website so that others can find you should your photo go viral.
The Body of the Update: The Status
Whether you’re posting a photo update or a text-based update, the actual body of your update should never be empty. For photo updates, add a quick summary or question related to the photo and to your goal. For example, if you want people to comment on the photo, ask a related question about it. If you want them to share or like it, a witty statement could do the trick.
Text-based updates obviously rely heavily on the content you place in the status update box. Keep your goal in mind and craft your update accordingly. End with a call to action or question that prompts your followers to do exactly what you originally intended for them to do. For instance, if your goal is to start a conversation, end with a call to action along the lines of “Tell us what you think” or “What do you think?”
If you are linking to an external site or blog post, Facebook will pre-populate your status update with the page’s title, description, and photo. While helpful and usually attractive, this doesn’t mean you get to skip writing an update. Your update can be short and sweet, but make sure to write it. Doing so gives your link context, and it can help to generate enough interest to convince your followers to actually click through and perhaps even return to leave a comment.
The body of the update is also where you can slide in a hashtag or two. Don’t put more than two hashtags in your post, though. Doing so tends to decrease engagement and clutter the update.
The Spirit of the Update: Your Brand’s Voice
Finally, stay true to your brand’s voice and spirit with all updates. Even if you’re feeling cranky or snarky, if your brand’s voice is supposed to be calm, cool, and collected, your posts will need to reflect that at all times.
Pay attention to the mind, face, body, and spirit of each Facebook status update you make and your updates are sure to become more engaging.