At SES New York, John Shehata, ABC News' executive director of search and social media, offered insights on how businesses can increase Facebook engagement with content marketing that catches consumers' interest - and wins EdgeRank points.
A lot of brands are satisfied with the fact that they have hundreds – even thousands – of Facebook followers. But John Shehata, executive director of search and social media for ABC News, has something to say to these companies: Each one of a company’s Facebook posts is seen by less than 16 percent of the brand’s fans on average.
 
At SES New York, Shehata gave his explanation of EdgeRank – the formulate that determines which social content is visible to users. He said EdgeRank is determined by affinity (the relationship between a user and a brand based on frequency of contact and other factors), weight (the importance of a piece of content or action – with photos or links being more important than statuses, and comments being more important than Likes) and time decay (with newer items more likely to appear old posts). Overall, EdgeRank dictates that “if you don’t share good content, you’ll disappear in the social space,” he said. SES New York 2012 Facebook EdgeRank insights
 
For those who don’t want to disappear, Shehata offered 21 insights (in about 12 minutes!) for Facebook content marketing that can help companies boost their engagement on the social giant. 

 

1. Keep it short: Shehata explained that Facebook isn’t a place to be long winded. Marketers can add links to longer blog posts on their websites or to news content marketing articles. By keeping posts under 250 characters, he suggests businesses see a 60 percent increase in interactions.

2. Ask open-ended questions: Asking questions is a great way to generate comments – and comments can really help boost visibility via EdgeRank.

3. Share stories with photos: ABC stories where journalists shared links to content, and included images in the Facebook post saw 65 percent more Likes and 50 percent more comments.

4. Post plain photos: Photos in and of themselves are key to Facebook engagement. (WebLiquid data shows photos on Facebook increase interaction rates.)

5. Post videos: In addition to Facebook data indicating that video posts boost engagement for brands by 100 percent, Shehata says even including the word video in the share will help companies garner attention.

6. Tweak headlines: Many people don’t take advantage of the option to change headlines for shared links to site content, but Shehata advises updating headlines to make them shorter and optimize them for social searches.SES New York 2012 Facebook tips

7. Make sure to include clear calls to action: He advised adding simple CTA phrases within the first 90 characters, and referenced a study showing that simple directives have better results. (Brafton covered the full findings of the study last year.)

8. Share exclusive content: People Like pages because they think there’s something in it for them, so provide exlusive offers and insider information.

9. Use contests: The majority of social followers are in it because they expect to get something out of the relationship!

10. Make sure contests are related to your business: Relevancy is essential to sustainable engagement! “If you’re in the food industry, your social contest shouldn’t give away a car. Keep it relevant,” Shehata said.

11. Interact with fans: By responding to fans, you show they are valued and you fuel further conversations for more interactions – and more affinity points in EdgeRank.

12. Incorporate current events: Capitalize on trending social topics with news content marketing. It shows that your company is up to speed with the latest happenings.

13. Address controversial topics: While good news generates Likes, bad news (treated appropriately) generates more Facebook comments – and comments carry EdgeRank weight.

14. Talk about Facebook on Facebook: It sounds simple, but Facebook users will want to keep up with Facebook happenings. Shehata even suggests asking, “What do you think of Timeline?” to get some interaction.Oreo Facebook birthday

15. Post follow-ups: Keep your page looking up to date and keep the conversation going.

16. Highlight fans and reward engagement: Go beyond interacting through responding to comments. Shehata highlighted how Oreo showcases active fans on their birthdays by including them in the brand’s profile pic, making them mini celebrities (and brand advocates).

17. Instead of automating updates, schedule updates: Shehata encourages using Hootsuite to schedule updates.

18. Cross-promote: Find other businesses (non-competitors) who will share your content and be willing to do the same.

19. Geotarget: By sharing local content, marketers can highlight how they are relevant to nearby users.

20. Be relevant: Know if our audience wants hard news or entertaining content, and plan your social (and overall) content marketing campaign accordingly.

21. Don’t overwhelm your fans: Shehata shared data from the ExactTarget study that showed the No. 1 reason brands unLike companies is because they share too many posts. Brafton has reported the same study shows repetitive content and content that lacks substantive information are other top reasons consumers unLike brand pages.

SES NY 2012 Facebook marketing tipOverall, Shehata said Facebook success comes down to effective content marketing. “If I could give just one tip, you MUST post high-quality and relevant content for social media marketing.” 

Bringing a content marketing gameplan to social campaigns should be a top priority for many companies this year. As Brafton has reported, half of companies with a social presence lack a social marketing strategy.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.