Facebook: 5 Practical and Tactical Tips for Optimization

Strategy is a Driving Force.

We are nothing if not communications strategy wonks here at Prichard. I once sat in a conference room for hours with one of my colleagues and it was hot and it was intense and were hungry and we strategized…about a strategy. We’re nerds about it.

And there’s a reason for that—strategy should be the driving force behind your nonprofit communications program. We’re experts in it to help our clients become experts in it. In fact, strategic communications planning is one of our key service offerings here at Prichard.

When our clients can’t hire us to craft strategies for them, they hire us to train them on communications strategy so they can do it themselves. We give them loads of useful, actionable information about how to identify their why, what and how….how to build out their plan….how to research target audiences…and how to measure it all.

Strategy isn’t the Whole Picture.

But very interestingly, no matter who we’re talking to about strategy, one set of questions comes up nearly every time—one set of questions rooted more in the day to day management of a communications program than the overall implementation of a strategy:

“That’s great, but how often should I post to Facebook?”

“When is the best time to tweet?”

“Should I use Instagram Video or Vine to connect with my target audiences?”

Years ago, I thought this was a diversion. I kept thinking, “BUT THE STRATEGY, PEOPLE, THE STRATEGY!” Over time though, I’ve come to realize that these are totally fair questions because, in truth, understanding the practical and tactical facets of social networking is yet another wonky skill. And, it’s a skill that eludes many of you who don’t have enough time to keep up on, say, the implications of Facebook’s latest change to the algorithm.

Social Networking—Practical and Tactical.

As such, today I present the first in a series of blog posts we’ll release over the next eight weeks: Social Networking—Practical and Tactical. Platform by platform, we’ll take you through the basics of major social networks and help answer some of those nagging questions.

Let’s begin with Facebook.

Facebook—Practical and Tactical.

Today’s ‘pay to play’ Facebook is a real challenge for nonprofits with limited budgets. Last fall, I recommended that nonprofits who can’t or don’t want to invest in Facebook ads focus instead on leveraging the platform as a simple credibility strategy. I wrote:

“Despite low engagement rates experienced by so many of you and our social do-gooding clients, Facebook is still good for one thing: bolstering credibility among target audiences, stakeholders and… maybe most importantly, Google Search.

This tool so permeated the way Americans get and share information that many of us (me included) now have an expectation that we‘ll be able to engage with organizations we support online—and especially using Facebook, the cornerstone social network for many of us.”

Five Tips to Optimize Your Facebook

In short, Facebook can be a tough nut to crack. But, no matter what purpose it serves for you, here are five ways to optimize your use of this platform—which, despite damning reports earlier last year, remains the “king of social media.” So, you know, pay attention to it!

  1. Post three to five times per week. More than five posts comes off as spammy—you might be a nonprofit with legions of engaged target audience members, but you’re still a brand at the end of the day. Fewer than three posts isn’t enough to keep your audiences engaged.
  1. Studies show that Thursdays and Fridays are the best days to post. But the best day to post for your nonprofit truly depends on your target audience’s particular behaviors. Get to know your audiences’ preferences through surveys and focus groups, and experiment with different days to find out when you get the highest engagement. The same goes for timing—you can find a study to back up nearly any time of the day as being optimal but only you can figure out when your audiences are most likely to engage with content.
  1. Limit your text to 40 (ish) characters. Recent studies show that Facebook posts with 40 or fewer characters receive a whopping 86 percent more engagement. On one hand, 40 characters seems really practical—it’s so short, think how much time you’ll save crafting content! On the other, it seems ridiculous! Who can convert something important into just 40 characters? The lesson here? Shorter is better. Don’t worry so much about hitting that 40 character mark exactly, but focus on  publishing smaller bits that ‘attention span deficient’ online audiences can easily scan and digest.
  1. Include a call to action in your post. This can be really simple like “Share this!” but make sure to include it because if you don’t, you’re not giving followers much of an opportunity to engage with you… and the whole point of social media is to have a two-way conversation that permits engagement for both parties.
  1. Don’t forget the visual. Perhaps the most important part of your Facebook post is the visual. One study found that posts with visuals generate 180 percent more engagement than posts without! 180 PERCENT!!! Check out “4 Ways to Engage Your Audience with Visual Storytelling on Facebook” to get really inspired on this front!

 

What did I miss? What are your favorite tips for making the most of Facebook?

Jennie Day-Burget

Former Vice President and Managing Director Jennie Day-Burget is a lover of surprises, wine and chevron (the pattern, not the oil company). Jennie has worked in communications and public relations for more than a decade and cites the hashtag (#) as her favorite communications innovation.
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