Community Management, Content Marketing, Social Media Tools, Blogging and Content Creation, Brand Communities, Facebook

Is Your Company More Interesting Than My Wife?

If you’re going to succeed on Facebook, you don’t just have to be more interesting than other companies, you have to be more interesting than my friends and relatives. Are you prepared for that?

My friend Jeff Widman runs BrandGlue, a consultancy that helps companies better manage their Facebook fan pages. He told me recently that since Facebook rolled out the news feed changes (they decide what gets shown on your news feed based on what you’ve “liked” and commented upon in the past, and what your friends have “liked” and commented upon), that only 2 out of every 1000 Facebook updates will show up in your news feed.

2 out of 1000. It’s like playing the content lottery.

That 1000 is comprised of updates from every person with whom I am friends, and every page or group of which I am a fan. My mom. My wife. My brother. My best friends. Clients. Former coworkers. And about 75 brand fan pages (in my case).

So, if you are Jason Falls’ Social Media Explorer (a brand of which I am a fan on Facebook) you have to get me to engage with your updates as often or more often than I engage with the updates from everyone else.

Thus, the absolute key to Facebook success is creating status updates that encourage or demand interaction. Here’s an example of content from from my friend, the utterly fabulous social buzz-builder Amy Martin at Digital Royalty, that is not optimized to compete for my attention:

Here’s how that same message could be tweaked to “win” likes or comments from me, and thus have a greater chance of showing up in my news feed – and thus the news feeds of my friends.

– First, the message could have been shown to only people in Baltimore.
– Assuming that is too narrow of an audience, I might suggest writing it this way:

“Who do you know in Baltimore or the Northeast that’s into sports and social media? Digital Royalty is co-hosting an event at ESPN Zone to tie in with National Sports Forum (link). Who should we invite?”

Positioning the content as a question and a request for help will solicit likes and comments that will push the update into the news feeds of many, many more people.

It’s also critical to recognize that since Facebook added the “share” functionality just a couple weeks ago, that this button only appears adjacent to links, photos, or videos. (You’ll notice the “share” link in the Digital Royalty post above, because there’s a link to the event details in the post). If you just post a regular text status message, “share” doesn’t show up, making it substantially more difficult for your fans to spread your content on your behalf. Thus, Facebook has essentially said that photos, videos and links are preferable to text-only status updates.

In many ways, Facebook fan pages are post-modern email newsletters. Keeping your customers up-to-date and keeping your brand top-of-mind. You’re fighting it out for our attention every time you add content, and multi-media is better than text.

Are you thinking about that, or are you just posting?

(photo by jimmy_macdonald)

Facebook Comments


  1. Jolie Perara says

    Once you have found out what and where your customers are in the social media realm, the next most important thing to do is write-out what your brand character is like. That can start by asking this simple question: How can I take my “friends” to a place where they can’t go on their own? In my blog I write about some ideas to help start a branding character storyline.

  2. katiryan says

    Such an interesting take on Fan Pages; it makes perfect sense. I like where you say, “Thus, the absolute key…is creating status updates that encourage or demand interaction.” You are exactly right. We can't just post updates, we must engage the consumers with our brand(s) in order to be successful.

    As always, great post, Jay!

  3. says

    I like how there's life in the modified update.

    I'm a fan of Mashable's page on Facebook and it absolutely takes over my feed some days. But, the updates that I read and react to are the posts that are most relevant to me and ask for my input.

    How do you position questions that are more relevant to the audience? Is the solution just asking more answers?

  4. says

    Good points Jay. I'm sure that most people aren't aware of how Facebook significantly changed and strengthened the filtering of each person's news feed. Audience interaction is now so much more important to whether or not your updates see the light of day on Facebook.

    Thanks again for keeping us all up-to-date Jay!

  5. says

    Jay as always I have learnt something new, I never know that the share button only comes up for other types of updates that are not text based, often times I search aimlessly for the share button. I admit that I have just been posting and nothing more. Thanks for the insight.

  6. says

    Very nice tip. Facebook is becoming harder and harder to get the attention for my posts and business.

    I def agree that asking questions is a great way to get people involved.

  7. ericboggs says

    Status updates = subject lines with a bit more room to operate. Just gotta coax out the next step along the path – a like, rt, click, comment, or whatever.

    (Not that the subject line parallel really helps. People still write lazy subject lines.)

    Also – you might enjoy this bit about a clearly over-thought, over-sanitized Facebook post from a ginormous CPG:


  8. says

    Nice post. We manage FB pages for clients and you're right on. A question does help garner comments. Interesting about the no share button on text only updates.

  9. says

    Good post. You're dead on about creating action. That's the key for anything social media related. Consumers will only move if they are asked to AND what you're proposing is worthy of their time.

  10. says

    As a fairly regular Facebooker, I get annoyed at the staleness of my feed created by the new system. I see posts by only a handful of people and updates at the top of my feed may be as old as 10 hours ago. I find myself clicking 'view live feed' every time I log in so that I can see more of what's going on with more people and more brands. I'm curious if I'm an anomaly or if updates aren't as overlooked as this post would lead us to believe?

  11. smowery says

    This is VALUABLE information Jay. Thanks! Most people have no idea that Facebook is control the news feed in this way. If we don't post “shareable” information that engages our audience, than why be there at all?

  12. mikeventura says

    Jay —

    Great stuff. I ALWAYS counsel my clients to ask a question in their Facebook posts, and it should always be last in the order.

    Another tactic that we use is to try to tie into something culturally current – this past Monday morning, one of our clients asked for opinions on Lady Gaga's costumes at the Grammy Awards. All your posts or comments do not have to be 100% “business.” It doesn't hurt your brand to show a human side and to acknowledge the world that we all live in. In the Lady Gaga example, our client got SEO bumps from folks searching for “Lady Gaga” or “grammys.”

  13. says

    Like with anything else in social media patience is a virtue when it comes to building fan pages and fans. Most companies typically just jump into it without a plan and get frustrated because they are not measuring the right metrics. Take a breather, have a plan, and have patience in building your fan page.

  14. says

    Best headline ever? If not, darn close. More than enough to make me click through from PR Daily Newsletter to this bit of genius. So, thanks. I’m inspired to help take B2B Facebook content to heights my spouse can only dream of.

  15. says

    Great post. We are all starting to see the advertisements coming out of the wood works, and we all know what we do with ads. I really like the idea of posing the question to the audience, and making them part of the even or solution. It also really stands out above the rest of the posts. Thanks for the ideas; they will be starred for sure!

  16. scotttownsend says

    Thanks for the education Jay. This post has been very enlightening. From now on I am going to get down and dirty with my updates from United Linen. No more staid headlines. This B2B is going B2FREAK

    What are you looking at???

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