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…and you weren’t there!

Facebook and Twitter deliver their (your) news feed content to their respective audiences in completely different and challenging ways. Although technically similar, it is important to understand how these feeds work when employing a strategy to maximize your content and audience reach.

Facebook

Most of us know or have heard that following a page, or friending a person does not guarantee that we will see that specific post or status update in our news feed. Facebook uses highly sophisticated algorithms to determine what we see in our news feed. An individual’s engagement with a post (liking, commenting and sharing) is the largest determining factor whether or not that same individual will see more of the same from the page, friend or family member. In so many words, Facebook decides if we are bored or excited by our news feed based on our behavior. So, it’s very likely we are missing a lot! Updates we might actually be interested in. Check the timeline on the page or person you are fond of and you are likely to see they are sending out more than you are getting.

If you are on the sending end – hoping your information reaches all of your family and friends, or all the “fans” or the people behind those sought-after page “likes,” then, well… let’s just say you have some challenges ahead.

  1. Produce content that elicits a reaction. Will the reader say to themselves, “Oh wow, I have to share this!”? Does the content invite comments and conversation? Is it visually interesting? If your answer is no, it is time to step up your game.
  2. Page administrators: pay attention to your insights. When did content spike? Are you only reaching 79 of your 500 fans? Are your friends awfully quiet? Only receiving a handful of post likes? It is a sign you need to be less boring and also more engaging with the people whose attentions you seek.

Packing a punch on Facebook

  1. Avoid third party services whenever possible. A link you post directly into Facebook will get more traction than content delivered from using a third party service like Hootsuite, or TweetDeck. Yes, they are convenient, but Facebook will penalize you in the news feed for using them. Sharing photos? Don’t rely entirely on external sites like Flickr. Great photos should be uploaded directly to Facebook and also as a link to a Flickr album. Mix it up.
  2. Avoid boring pictures. No one wants to see a photo of a person giving a PowerPoint presentation. Yes, we know you gave a fascinating talk. Instead, feature a photo from that talk and write about a key message.
  3. Keep posts short. Facebook does not have a character limit, but research shows shorter posts get longer attention. Get to you point fast. Let the picture or link do the talking. Many experts now say the ideal length for Facebook is 80 characters! And you thought Twitter’s 140 limit was too restrictive!
  4. Pay attention to timing. Did your post fall flat? Consider posting the same content again on a different day or time. Change it up just a tad, use a different picture, etc. Just don’t repeat consecutively!
  5. Don’t be a One Trick Pony! Mix up your content. Picture, website link, Facebook video, Vine, link to a PDF, YouTube, and sharing other Facebook page content (like a partner organization).
  6. Boost posts. On important content, experiment with spending $5 or $10 to boost a post. This will remind your page fans you are still alive and kicking. Once there, they might look around and see what you have been up to. Only boost sparingly and when the content is helpful or spectacular (share-worthy).

Twitter

Twitter does not filter out content from your “Home” news feed. If you search by hashtags, Twitter will offer “Top Tweets” or “All Tweets” as a choice to cut through the onslaught of information. But with Twitter, you see who you follow, and therein lies the problem. News on Twitter whizzes past your screen faster than you can say “Caitlyn Jenner.”

twitter search

If you post great content at 9 a.m., but your target audience member checks his/her feed at 11:30 a.m., guess what? Your information is pushed back in their news feed. Way back. They may visit your account to see what you’re up to. They may decide to swipe up 20 or 30 times to see what was missed. Chances are they’ll start from where they jumped on, so your news is long gone. The solution is easy. Repeat and repeat again.

A quick look at The Washington Post’s Twitter account shows they do exactly that. They typically post their top news items every two to three hours in a 24-hour news cycle. Feature stories, infographics (they’re huge with U.S.maps) can be shared twice a day or multiple times during the week.

Breaking through on Twitter

  • Pace your delivery. Don’t marathon tweet one after the other, seconds apart. That’s spam. Have dynamite photos? We don’t have to see all 20 at once. Pace and space, please!
  • Repeat breaking or important news several times a day or within the week. Just not in a row! Space it out over time and among/within other content. Big event coming up? Don’t tweet it once and forget about it. Different audiences come on at different times. Be there!
  • Upload great photos!
  • Use the right hashtags. Part 1. If you run out of room, change or alternate the #hashtags in repeat tweets. Delaware example: First, tweet of a photo of children learning safety at a day camp might use #safety #NetDE (our state aggregate). Later in the day, we might use #summersafety #KidsDE and if we sent out a third Tweet we might add in #EduDE #bikes #camp. See Holy Hashtag!
  • Use the right hashtags. Part 2. Don’t make hashtags up if a good one is already in use. People search hashtags for content. Don’t make it hard for people to find you. Use the hashtags everyone is using, or, if it is a new event hashtag, talk to other tweeps and ask their help in promoting the hashtag use. Place the event hashtag on event materials so people will know to use it.
  • Repeat content. Yes, this bears repeating!
  • Vine & Periscope! Video and live streaming brings your content to life.
  • Stop connecting to Facebook! Really, do I have to jump in, sign in, or sign up for Facebook to see your content? Don’t make me do that! No more fb.me’s, please!
  • Sparingly connect to Instagram! I do occasionally auto-connect to my Instagram. The operative word is “occasionally.” See above bullet. It’s a way to let people know you have an Instagram account, but don’t overdo it. Think about it. Would you rather deliver a picture this way? Twitter picture

or this way?

Instagram picture

It’s not easy to navigate through all these social media nuances. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but I learn from them, share those lessons, and most importantly keep experimenting and innovating!

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