The Anatomy of a Perfect Facebook Post

Jul 30 2013

The Anatomy of a Perfect Facebook Post

by in Blog

facebook post

Facebook’s power as a marketing platform is undeniable. It offers you the ability to build an audience from its selection of 1.15 billion users worldwide plus to reach that audience any time your heart desires.  We’ve all seen brands produce incredible results from Facebook, but not nearly as often as you would expect.

While there are several variables that factor into the end result you can produce from Facebook, there’s one very basic skill that many brands and businesses have failed to master: the art of creating the perfect Facebook post.

As you probably know, Facebook users tend to spend most of their time in the newsfeed.  What they see in the newsfeed is determined by Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm, which makes the decision based off your activity and engagement on the social network.

For example, you’re more likely to see recent activity from a friend that you’ve recently engaged with online than someone you talk to every day in the real world.

The same rules apply to pages. If a person hasn’t engaged with your page recently, they’re not going to see most of the things you post. Don’t panic though, I’ve got you covered…

A bad Facebook post

Based on extensive research and testing, I’ve been able to piece together the anatomy of a ‘perfect’ Facebook post. While I understand that each audience is different and that there is no fix-all approach to anything in marketing, I can say with 100% confidence that this is the way to maximize engagement, increase your reach and drive more business.

Let’s start by looking at an older post from the Quick Sprout Facebook page that epitomizes the worst possible posting techniques.

bad post

The first thing that went wrong here was posting a link as the primary media. While the end goal is still to drive traffic, the link preview is easily overlooked in Facebook’s newsfeed, which has undergone several design changes to make it more visual.

The second HUGE mistake here is the copy… there is none!  The copy you use for your status update is what makes the content you’re sharing relevant to your audience. Don’t rush through it; don’t just retype the headline; and NEVER leave it blank.

You’ll notice that this post received absolutely 0 engagement.  Not convinced by just one post? Ok, let’s keep going.

Here are a few more examples of what NOT to do on Facebook.

posts before

Here’s a look at the number people who were “Talking About This” before we changed strategies.

before talking about this

Still not enough? Here’s a look at our overall reach before we made the change.

reach before

The anatomy of a perfect Facebook post

Now let’s look at the results AFTER we made a shift in strategy.

reach after

talking after

Here comes the good part: you get to see how we did it.

good post

The first thing you should notice is that the primary form of media is an image. Not only that, it’s an image that is both intriguing and engaging on its own. This is vital to the post. With so much clutter and mediocre content being shared on Facebook, you need to choose an image that will instantly impress and attract whoever happens to see it. We’ve tested this idea on dozens of different Facebook pages with audience sizes ranging from a few hundred to over 100k and found that images are always the top performing post type.

The second thing you should notice is the copy. It’s short and personable, and it provides context as to how this post is relevant to my audience.

The next thing you’ll see is that the link is up there next to the text. This means that if your image can grab people’s attention and your copy is well written, your readers are likely to take the next step and click on that link.

Note: If you want to make it look a little clearer, you can use a link shortener, but there are contradicting studies on whether people prefer shorter links or despise them.

The final thing you should notice is the amount of engagement the post received. That engagement factors into the overall reach of the post and also ensures that those same people see what I say next.

Note: Edgerank places different value on the three different types of engagement: Likes is the least valued form of engagement; Comments is next in line; and Shares is topping the charts.  Diversifying the type of engagement you get from your audience will help improve your average reach and your overall results.

After testing the new approach for a while, we started breaking all the records for the top posts in the page’s history.

good post reach

As we’ve maintained these efforts, we’ve seen a steady increase in engagement, reach and web traffic coming from Facebook as well as a more rapid growth in page likes (fans or followers).

On top of optimizing your actual posts, you should optimize the times you’re posting them. The new Facebook analytics offers “Actionable Insights”, showing you when your fans are online and the types of posts they prefer.

fans online

Pair the perfect timing with the perfect post ad, and I guarantee that you’ll have a positive impact. Keep in mind that not every post is going to be a record-breaker, but your overall efforts will yield greater results.

post after


Sure, the Quick Sprout Facebook fan page doesn’t have a ton of engagement compared to other fan pages, but with the use of the strategy above, we were able to increase the engagement substantially.

The reason it isn’t doing as well as it could is because we add posts during US working hours, whereas most of the fans are from India. When we add posts during working hours in India, we get over 10 times the traction.

facebook countries

Hopefully this post shows you how you can create the perfect Facebook post. Just give it a shot. Trust me, you’ll get much more engagement.

About the author: Mike Bal is the Director of Social Media & Content at Single Grain. He’s been successful in helping leading brands, businesses, and thought leaders leverage social media.

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