WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

What Is It

Facebook is, globally, the largest and most widely used social network. It’s used all over the world as a platform allowing people to connect with family, friends and co-workers. People can also follow and receive updates from brands who manage Pages on the network where they publish updates with news, promotions or other information.

Who’s Using It

According to Pew, as of mid-2016 68% of U.S. adults used Facebook, making it far and away the most widely-used social network. That usage is pretty evenly split between men and women, though adoption trails off with those above the age of 50.

CREATING AN ACCOUNT

Username/Profile

There are several steps involved in creating a new Page. Many, but not all, of these can be edited after the page has been built, so be careful about what you’re doing and have agreement among all stakeholders on how to approach all these fields.

Choose a Category: When creating a Page, Facebook will give you a variety of options to choose from such as “Local Business or Place,” “Entertainment” and others. There are also subcategories that are within those to more specifically describe what type of brand, company or organization the Page will be for.

About: Allows you to add a short description of the business or whatever it is the Page is for. You can also choose a Facebook vanity URL assuming it hasn’t already been claimed.

Choose a Name: A Page can be named just about anything. But for the sake of both making it easily discoverable and not wanting to violate Facebook’s standards it should be simple and consistent with the brand it will be representing.

Preferred Page Audience: Allows you to specify what type of audience you’d most like to reach with the page. This will factor into the News Feed and become one of the determining data points used to decide who sees posts from the page.

Customizing the Profile

Profile Picture: This is the profile avatar that appears not only on the page itself but will be displayed next to updates from the page when they are shown in the News Feed. Think of something bold in terms of color that will pop in the feed while still being immediately identifiable with your brand or company. Image should be 180 x 180.

Cover Photo: This is the big picture that is displayed at the top of the Page itself and which does not show up in the News Feed at all. This should be bold and can be swapped out whenever is necessary. So it can be used for a long-term static banner that conveys brand messaging or it can be changed on a regular basis to tie in with a current campaign or focus. Also, make sure the design accounts for – or even takes advantage of – how a portion of the bottom left will be obscured by the Profile Picture and some of the bottom right will be covered by the call-to-action and other buttons. This image should be 851 x 315.

Site Link: What’s the primary on-domain touchpoint you want to point people to? This can be the main corporate or brand website, the blog that is feeding the content being posted on the Twitter account or other single important link. Some people use a Bit.ly short link in this section to try and count how many people are coming to the site from the bio link but it’s recommended brand accounts not do that and instead use a long, unhidden link here. That will help show people what it is they’re clicking and increase the value proposition of doing so.

Call To Action Button: Facebook offers a number of options for the Call to Action button that can be added to the header of your Page. This can include a Call Now prompt that’s tied to a phone number, a Sign Up button to get email subscribers, a Shop Now button to drive website retail visits and more. Find out more information on what’s available and how to add it to your Page here.

Building a Following

  • Feature links to your social communities on all communications materials online and offline.
  • Consider paid placements to grow your following within specific demographics.
  • Directly mention people and other companies by using the @ symbol before their username. Use this frequently to draw more eyes to your content.
  • Engage frequently (but carefully so as not to veer into stalker territory) in comments on related conversations, even if they happen off of your page.
  • It can also be beneficial, particularly when the page is new or just before a major campaign is launched, to buy ads to promote the page and get more people to Like it. Make sure that the targeting options for those promoted ads are aligned with who you want to reach in the short- and long-term.

POSTING AND PUBLISHING

Types of Posts

When it comes to updates, Facebook’s two primary calls-to-action are “What’s on your mind?” for individuals and “What have you been up to?” for brands. Both are designed to encourage the kind of status update that drives Facebook: Opinions/thoughts and news updates.

Those updates make their way into the Newsfeed, which is the primary consumption page. This is now the full firehose of updates from people and companies an individual has connected with, though. Instead Facebook’s algorithm weighs countless data points, most importantly engagement (number of Likes, comments etc) along with the interests of friends and more to determine what makes it into the Newsfeed, a number that could be as low as 20% of what’s posted to the pages and profiles someone has connected with. Facebook has given individuals a number of controls over what appears in their Newsfeed, but all are still subject to the Newsfeed algorithm.

The typical status update, which is the core feature of Facebook, can contain a number of elements:

  • Text: No additional media or assets, just text
  • Link: Links can be pasted into an update in order to drive people to a destination, whether on- or off-domain. Facebook will scrape the page the link is for and pull in an excerpt (which can be removed) as well as the page title and, if there is one, an image thumbnail.
  • Photo: Photos can be uploaded natively to Facebook either through the web or most apps and tools. Those photos will, on most interfaces, appear in the stream without the viewer needing to click to view them. There’s also the ability to create collages based on when photos were added to a mobile device’s camera roll. Users can also shoot 360-degree photos from directly within the mobile app using the camera. Stickers, drawings and other images can be added to enhance photos.
    • Timeline Image: 403 x 403
    • Shared Video: 504 x 283
    • Photo Thumbnail: 105 x 105
  • Background Post: Facebook allows you to choose from a number of colored and designed backgrounds which you can add text to, creating a post that is meant to pop more in the News Feed than simple text.
  • Video: There are two ways to display videos within a status update:
    • Embedded Video: Embedding a YouTube link will display the video within the stream on most apps, without the viewer needing to click and open the video in a browser window. At this time YouTube is the only video provider supported in this manner. Embedded videos will display in the same was a thumbnail image.
      • Small Video Thumbnail: 157 x 87
      • Shared Video: 504 x 283
    • Native Video: Videos can be uploaded natively to Facebook through the web or some apps. Uploading Options:
      • Videos can be uploaded as “secret” for distribution not in the Newsfeed but only via sharing the direct URL. This is useful for those who want to use Facebook primarily as a host for videos distributed elsewhere.
      • Videos can be targeted by age, gender, location and language.
      • Publishers can set an expiration date, at which point they will be removed from the site.
      • Videos can publish directly to the Videos section of a page, bypassing the Newsfeed and Timeline.
      • Publishers can prohibit off-site embed, add custom thumbnails and tag videos based on interests.
      • Most of this functionality can also be edited via the Video Library on a Page.
      • Facebook offers what it calls “Rights Manager,” which allows publishers to create a library of owned video that stakes their claim to those videos. That way when someone uploads the same video on their own page without the rights holder’s permission they can be matched against the library and hopefully taken down.
      • Facebook Live: Offers the ability to stream live video, for all Verified Pages and all U.S. users. Live is also available within Groups and Events and people can add doodles and apply filters to the videos they’re sharing. Videos currently being shared are discoverable via a Trending section as well as a dedicated search section in the desktop web experience.
      • Large Video Thumbnail: 319 x 176
  • Stories: Multiple photos and videos can be collected into a Story by default disappears after 24 hours and which aren’t shared to the Timeline or News Feed unless the user opts to do so.
  • Direct: The latest attempt at expiring one-to-one content, Direct lets one user share a photo, video or message with someone else and engage in a conversation. Once that ends, all the messages are deleted.
  • GIFs: Facebook allows for GIFs to be used in comments through. The “GIF” button that’s available on both the web and mobile apps use integrations with GIF-hosting services including Giphy and Tenor, allowing people to search for a GIF and then add it to their comment.

Facebook often will display prompts to encourage more posting. Sometimes that’s around recent events, anniversaries of connecting with other people on the platform or the On This Day feature, which surfaces something posted on that day in previous years. Facebook will sometimes bundle On This Day memories into a themed group that can be shared.

Facebook also allows for longer-form posts and other specific calls-to-action:

  • Instant Articles: Allow for native publishing of long-form articles directly to Facebook, eliminating the need for linking off to an on-domain page for people to read a story. This is open to all publishers and is meant to address the sometimes long load-times of stories on the mobile web but really just allows Facebook to keep everyone’s attention within its own ecosystem. Readers can subscribe to publications after reading their Instant Articles stories, an effort to increase media brand reach and loyalty
  • Offer: An offer is basically a specific call-to-action built around some sort of sale or other promotion.
  • Event: An event is just what it sounds like, an invitation to the audience to take part or attend some form of event. This can be a real-world meetup, livestream or other one-time occasion that has a specific time and date.
  • Milestone: Essentially a glorified status update, a Milestone is some notable point in the page/profile’s history. This is usually something like company founding, major product releases and other high-profile events.
  • Notes: Notes is essentially a blog platform within Facebook, allowing people to write long-form posts, including embedded links and images, that are shared with their network.
  • Call-to-action buttons: These are designed to provide a persistent call-to-action (hence the name) on the page that lives outside of the stream of updates and is specifically designed to appeal to either new fans coming to Like the page for the first time or especially loyal fans.

Posts made to Facebook can be embedded on blog posts and pages elsewhere on the web. People can still interact with the post – Like, Comment and so on – within the embedded posts, including Liking the page itself.

Content Organization

Facebook, like most all social networks, lacks a native taxonomy. So unlike blogs, you can’t add posts to categories to help collect posts around a specific topic or theme. Hashtags do work on Facebook and are searchable but they’re not a very popular or widely-used feature.

What To Publish

Facebook has changed the rules for Pages significantly in recent years, mostly in ways that result in fewer Page posts appearing in people’s Newsfeeds. While speculation has concluded these changes are driven by a desire to essentially force brands to pay to promote Pages/posts in order to achieve reach, the official explanation has been that Facebook is simply trying to optimize people’s experience and deal with the ever-growing volume of posts being published.

Because these updates, which cover topics like making judgements on whether a headline/post is “click bait,” downplaying “overly promotional” updates from Pages and more, impact not only the reach of individual posts but also network growth and engagement, these topics should be kept in mind over and above the individual tactical points below.

More than anything else, provide value from the account. Each Facebook Page should be created with a distinct and clear value proposition not just to the company (it helps align our synergies through the leveraging of strategic assets) but for the audience. Are you there to inform, entertain, sell, promote or some combination of those? Whatever it is, make sure that comes through loud and clear in the big-picture editorial. That content mix may shift based on what the audience winds up reacting to but it can’t overlooked at the beginning.

When to Publish

There are countless opinions and guidelines on when the best time to post on Facebook is. A Buddy Media study recommended Thursday or Friday afternoons to get the most engagement. Optimizely says around 5PM Monday through Thursday is a good idea but never on weekends because you’ll get no engagement or reach. A Hubspot study was more general, recommending different times on different days but usually leaning toward the afternoon, including weekends when you can still see good engagement.

Many studies with recommended Facebook posting guidelines will also say Pages shouldn’t post more than a few times a week or once a day at most. While over-publishing is certainly not a good idea, “once a day” may not be realistic for content marketing programs with a steady stream of news that needs to be shared. In general, publishers should find a balance between keeping the audience up-to-date on important news and not irritating that audience. One metric that may prove useful is looking at post frequency each day and comparing it to the number of people hiding posts, unliking the page or otherwise negatively engaging with the Page and its content.

While general research like this can provide good directional guidance, it comes down to a couple big factors:

  • When is your audience online? If you’re running a U.S.-centric program, plan Facebook publishing accordingly. If you need to reach international audiences then do likewise, including finding ways to resurface earlier breaking news in a timely manner for those readers.
  • When are people engaging? This is finer balancing act, since it means looking for high-engagement times to share important news to reach the largest audience, but without creating a feedback loop where the best content is only published during a certain window, leaving the rest of the day without much of interest.
  • It’s also important not to sit on breaking news, if that’s what the program is about, to wait for the next optimal window.

Other considerations will come into play that are specific to each program.

Contests and Promotions

Brand publishers have a couple different options when it comes to running or promoting a contest or sweepstakes on Facebook:

  1. On the Page itself by:
    1. Linking off to another site
    2. Asking fans to Like or comment on a post in order to enter
    3. Posting something on the Page (permissions for the Page would need to allow for this)
    4. Sending the Page a message
    5. NOTE: You are NOT allowed to ask fans to Share a post either on their own profile or on a friend’s profile to enter
  2. On an app on the page, where you can design the app to collect entries. Various CMS tools allow you to custom build an app that will pull the available Facebook profile information for entrants

Whichever option you choose, outlining the terms and conditions for the contest is important. Ideally these live on an on-domain page that is then linked to from the post or app that is acting as the primary contest point-of-entry.

Other Best Practices

  • Keep your posts short and sweet. While Facebook does not have the same sparse character limit as Twitter it will take a long post and put part of it behind a “Read More” button that will hide part of the copy, as well as any link that may be at the end of the update.
  • Don’t get too click-baity as this will likely get degraded in the News Feed algorithm
  • Emotion plays well and is one of the core drivers of engagement
  • Test posting at different times of day and days of the week and track what works best.
  • Experimenting with voice and tone in a way that is in line not only with what is appropriate for the brand and corporate culture but also with what will resonate with your audience can be a great way to increase engagement and interest.
  • Post a mixture of types of content. Don’t always just post text updates. Include photos, videos and links. Updates with media have been shown repeatedly to have higher engagement rates than text/link-only updates.
  • Know how many updates the audience will tolerate. If a Page publishes too frequently fans will unlike it or hide updates. If it doesn’t publish often enough it won’t get traction in the Newsfeed. Use metrics like Daily Likes/Unlikes to know where the line is.
  • Target your posts effectively, either through the standard demographic categories below or through the advanced Audience Optimization tools that are available.
    • Gender
    • Relationship Status
    • Educational Status
    • Age
    • Location
    • Language
    • Interests
  • Consider using Post End Date, which allows publishers to set a date at which the post will stop appearing in people’s Newsfeeds but will still be on the Page itself. This can be good for extremely timely news or time-sensitive sales/promotions
  • Native video uploads have been shown to have higher engagement levels than YouTube embeds and by many accounts are being prioritized in the Newsfeed.

ENGAGEMENT

Audience Engagement

  • Like: Signal that they approve or otherwise endorse that post. This is a very low engagement action since it requires just a single click.
  • Reactions: Allow people to more finitely react to a post by giving them a number of emoji options ranging from “heart” to “angry face.”
  • Comment: Write a comment in response to what was published. This is a higher level of engagement since a more substantive action is required. Comments can include text, links, photos and GIFs.
  • Share: Republish what was published to someone’s own network, amplifying it and extending its reach beyond the additional audience. This is a much higher level of engagement since it shows that someone has signaled they not only approve of what was originally published but want to show it off to their own friends and connections.
  • Save: Half a read-it-later tool that lets you save articles you can’t read right now and half a bookmarking tool for creating shortcuts to places or Pages you enjoy.
  • Quote: Creates an image of text that’s been highlighted on a webpage and then shared via a “Share” button that is added to mobile or desktop web browsers.

Groups

Groups are a special feature that allows anyone to setup a defined community of people, usually around a specific topic or interest. These Groups can either be public, allowing anyone to join, or private, requiring an invitation from an administrator.

Groups for Pages lets Page administrators create sub-groups of those who have already Liked the Page. It’s meant to allow for a small, select community of “super fans” or other highly-passionate, influential or important people to have a place of their own. These may be used to give early access to loyal customers, poll a group of select individuals or for another reason similar to a focus group or loyalty club.

Other Best Practices

  • Having a publicly-accessible moderation policy is essential. Facebook comments can go off-topic and become abusive quickly so have something in place that gives you recourse to delete and hide those sorts of comments and ban repeat offenders.
  • A threat escalation policy can be extremely useful. Sometimes people will threaten harm to others, including corporate staff, or themselves in the comments. So have a workflow in place to take those and not just remove them from the page but to flag them to legal departments or other stakeholders so they’re dealt with appropriately.
  • If staffing allows it, having someone who can be active in the comments and respond to on-topic questions can be extremely useful in building up an active, loyal fanbase.
  • Facebook also offers a number of customer service tools that include the ability to respond quickly with “We’ll get to your comment soon” messages, the equivalent of a “our office is closed right now” message and a badge to show how quickly, on average, the page responds to comments.

MANAGEMENT AND REPORTING

Apps and Sites You Need

  • Facebook.com: The primary web-based interface. Allows for the most functionality and versatility in post types, engagement and more.
  • Native mobile app: An app version of the web interface. Some functionality is reduced but it otherwise replicates the core Facebook experience.
  • Facebook Pages Manager: A breakout app designed for those who manage brand Pages, the app gives access to Facebook Insights, allows for posting and engagement and more.
  • Mentions: Meant to be a breakout Facebook experience for celebrities, as well as notable Pages, to send updates, photos and more. Updates can be posted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and is designed to encourage interactions and conversations.

Messenger has grown significantly to the point that it now rivals the main Facebook app and experience. It started out as essentially Facebook’s in-world IM system, allowing members who have connected as friends to communicate with each other via text or voice calling, accessible via the web interface or in a stand-alone app. Brand Pages can share a shortlink or scannable code that lets customers quickly initiate conversations with that Page and create a short welcome message that begins a conversation and sets expectations for responsiveness or whatever the initial value proposition or other message needs to be.

The main appeal for Messenger is now as a brand customer service and engagement tool, a place for customers and fans to communicate with the brand in a private manner as opposed to via public comments or posts. To that end one of the most popular features of Messenger is now the bot ecosystem. These bots are driven by natural language processing and are intended to answer simple questions but have grown to the point that they are also capable of recommending products for sale.

Other web/mobile-based tools include Hootsuite, SocialEngage, Adobe Social and many others that are more oriented for enterprise-level usage. Each should be investigated and evaluated based on the needs of an individual publishing and engagement program.

Advertising Options

There are a number of ads Facebook offers to achieve any of the following goals:

  • Boost your posts: Get more people to see and engage with your Page posts
  • Promote your Page: Connect more people with your Page
  • Send people to your website: Increase the number of visits to your website
  • Increase conversions on your website: Send people to your website to take a specific action, like signing up for a newsletter
  • Get installs of your app: Send people to the store where they can purchase your app
  • Increase engagement in your app: Get more people to use your Facebook or mobile app
  • Reach people near your business: Promote your business to people who are nearby
  • Raise attendance at your event: Promote your Facebook event to increase your attendance
  • Get people to claim your offer: Promote timely discounts or other deals for people to claim in your store
  • Get video views: Promote videos that show behind-the-scenes footage, product launches or customer stories to raise awareness about your brand
  • Collect leads: This creates a simple, mobile-friendly form for advertisers to collect information on potential buyers
  • Product Ads: Advertisers can upload their entire catalog and then target individual products to specific audience types. A variety of formats are available, including slideshows, dynamic catalog ads and more that may work depending on campaign goals.
  • Branded masks: Imagery that can be added to photos shot and shared through the mobile app are available.
  • Branded content amplification: Brands engaging in influencer marketing can boost natively boost and promote the posts from those influencers directly. Additional metrics and insights are available for those posts.

Different kinds of ads can be run on different parts of Facebook, from the main app to Instant Articles to Messenger to Instagram.

Facebook also offers the Audience Network that lets advertisers extend their Facebook ad campaigns off of Facebook through a series of sites that retargets ads based on an individual’s behavior and interests on the social network.

Get more of the details behind creating each type of ad here. Facebook has created “cheat sheets” for both ad copy and ad images to help advertisers maximize the impact of their campaigns.

A study released in January 2015 showed 18% of social network users clicked on a Facebook sponsored post at least weekly. 22% clicked at least once a month.

Reporting and Analytics

There are dozens of metrics available through Facebook or other measurement tools. Below are some of the most common:

  • Page Metrics
    • Total Page Likes: The total number of Likes a page has accumulated
    • New Likes: The gross number of new Likes accumulated in a given period
    • Unlikes: The number of people who have Unliked a page for some reason in a given period
    • Net Likes: Gross New Likes (minus) Unlikes gives you the net number of new fans accumulated in a given period
    • Where Page Likes Happened:
  • Update Metrics
    • Reach: The number of people who have actually seen a post when it’s loaded in their Newsfeed.
    • Total Engagement: Total number of clicks, comments, Likes or shares on a post
    • Engagement Rate: The percentage of people who saw a post and like, shared, clicked or commented on it divided by the number of people who saw the post
    • Likes: The number of Likes on an individual post
    • Comments: The number of comments on an individual post
    • Shares: The number of shares of an individual post
  • Follower Metrics
    • Gender
    • Location
    • Language
  • Video Metrics
    • Video Views: A view of 3 seconds or more of a video
    • Unique Video Views: the number of people who viewed your video for 3 seconds or more
    • Average Duration of Video Viewed: The average amount of time people spent viewing your video
    • Cost per Video View (Paid Only): Average cost per view for your video ads. Note: Only available in Ads Reporting. This is a reporting metric, not a bid type; you cannot bid on a cost-per-view basis.
    • Clicks to Play Video (Paid Only): We have renamed our “video plays” metric to “clicks to play video” to more accurately reflect clicks to play your videos. Clicks to play register when the video starts after a person has clicked to play it. Note: This metric is available for both videos uploaded directly to Facebook and videos embedded from players outside of Facebook. It is not available for links to videos that play off Facebook.
    • Minutes Viewed: The total number of minutes spent watching the video
    • 10-Second Views: The number of views which got to at least 10 seconds
    • Cross-post Insights: If a publisher chooses to upload the same video more than one page this gives them access to unified metrics for that video instead of having to track each one individually

Minutes Viewed, Views and 10-Second Views are also available via a day-by-day breakdown to provide more immediate metrics on video performance.

There are myriad other metrics (Active Users, Engaged Users and more), the definitions of which can be found via SimplyMeasured.

Facebook also offers analytics that are specific to mobile apps and lets developers analyze audience data, behavior and more within the app.

In the wake of a few incidents where Facebook admitted to misreporting advertising metrics it opened itself up to a limited amount of third-party auditing and oversight.