Facebook study reveals optimal message length and other best practices

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Facebook engagement - what works, and what doesn't?

Last week, Facebook Studio revealed the results of an internal study that examined  which topics generate the most engagement on Facebook pages.

Facebook Studio said that the study examined four weeks of Facebook Page posts across 23 brands and six industries, which include automotive, entertainment, and retail. The study divided the Pages’ content into three categories:

  • Messages about the product or service
  • Messages related to the brand
  • Messages unrelated to the brand

In presenting the study’s findings, Facebook Studio classified recommended best practices into three general categories: getting the basics down, being relevant and timely, making a visual impact, crafting compelling content, and getting your audience involved.

I think that most of the 16 best practice recommendations are obvious, but the following are worth noting:

1. Be succinct.

In any type of communication, conciseness is desirable. We already know that Facebook is no exception to this rule, but the study provides some specific information regarding the recommended length of messages:

Posts between 100 and 250 characters (less than 3 lines of text) see about 60% moremlikes, comments and shares than posts greater than 250 characters.

Bottom line: Keep your Facebook messages less than three lines of text for maximum impact.

2. Post at an optimal time.

Potential clients and small business owners always ask me when they should be posting on Facebook. Although numerous studies have attempted to answer this question, the fact is that the optimal time for your organization is usually different from others.

According to the study:

Only you know what’s right for your business, and you can use your Page Insights to figure out what’s working (for instance, try posting at different times of day and see when you get the most engagement)…. User engagement with Facebook Pages is highest from 9-10pm and the 18-24 demographic is the most engaged during this time.

Bottom line: Try posting different times of the day (and also different days) — and check Facebook Insights — to determine the optimal time when YOUR audience is most likely to engage with your content.

3. Use bold visuals.

Most Facebook Page managers already recognize the power of great photos in telling the story of their brands. But this new study had the following suggestions when it comes to visuals:

  • Use simple images with a clear focal point
  • Select images with colours that will stand out against the site’s white background

Facebook said that the same recommendations apply to ads.

Bottom line: Share images with a close-up and/or a single colour that stand out.

4.  Include a call to action.

Again, this tip isn’t entirely surprising, but the study suggested to let your fans know how to engage with your content early — preferably within the first 90 characters.

Would you like your followers to answer a question, like your post, or share your link? Whatever it is, ask for it!

Bottom line: Start including a call to action to your messages within the first 90 characters.

Overall, I thought that the study had some insightful recommendations that serve as a good starting point for many Facbeook page administrators. The study even included best practices for each industry that was examined.

I still suggest experimenting with your own content though. As these recommendations represent average results, they give a lot of room for improvement and creativity.

Also, ask your community what type of content they want from you. You’ll be surprised how much input they’re willing to provide. Asking your followers directly is a better tactic than relying on studies that aggregate results from companies and industries that are different from yours.

For details about this study, download the free best practices guide from the Facebook Studio website.

Is there anything from this Facebook Studio study that surprised you? Leave a comment below and share your insights!  

© 2012, KC Claveria. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please link back to kcclaveria.com

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