September 4, 2018
Categories: Social Media, Research, Marketing, PR, and Social Media
German Shepherd dog using a laptop

Facebook has been implementing so many changes recently that it’s hard to keep track. What does your animal shelter or rescue organization need to know?

No, it’s not your imagination: Engagement is down for most Facebook pages. Some types of page are hit harder than others, and unfortunately, there’s no good data for how Facebook’s algorithm is being applied to nonprofits. But research from an analysis of 43 million Facebook posts by more than 20,000 pages, conducted by social management platform Buffer, did reveal some strong trends.

First, engagement is down around 50 percent in the last 18 months, so if your page is doing better than that, take a bow. Given the appeal of the animal welfare cause (and pet photos and video! Visual pet content is the third most popular type of content on Facebook), we probably are well-positioned to buck the trend, which has hit arts and entertainment, media sites, public figures and health and beauty brands the hardest. Least-affected are athletes and retailers.

While Facebook has been pushing live and recorded video hard for more than a year, photos are still the most engaging type of content on the platform, outperforming video by far, and leaving links — the worst-performing content type in terms of engagement — in the dust.

What does this information say about the perennial question of all social media managers: How often should I post to my page?

In terms of engagement — comments, likes, and shares — more frequent posting is performing better, which is a change from earlier trends. In fact, you’re going to be seeing advice based on this study saying that engagement is optimized when posts hit the platform five times a day. But that represents a misreading of the data, or at least, a skewed interpretation.

Those numbers tell us that, with more frequent posting, pages get more engagement on each individual post. But at the same time, posting at that level lowers overall engagement on the page. Why? Because you’re reaching a smaller number of people who are interacting with all or most of your posts, but failing to reach the much larger number of unengaged followers — which means you’re in the position of increasingly just preaching to the converted.

So, what can you do?

  • First, save the links for Twitter, and post mostly photos, with video as a backup content type.
  • Second, realize these are aggregate numbers. Dive deeply into your page analytics and focus on the content and posting frequency that perform best for your page.
  • Third, focus on content that gets shared. Sharing is not only a powerful signal to Facebook’s algorithm that your post is popular, but it literally puts your content in front of other people — people disposed to like it because it was shared by a friend of theirs.
  • Finally, engage with your community! Respond to contents in the first half hour after your posts go live, react to them, and show your community that you appreciate their support and involvement. Like sharing, this sends a signal to the algorithm, and it also “trains” your followers to keep engaging with you — which will drive increased exposure in the news feed as the algorithm detects increased engagement.

You can read Buffer’s summary of the key study findings here.

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