When it comes to Facebook, more fans doesn’t mean broader reach. That’s because the vast majority of people see posts in their news feeds and tend not to visit individual Facebook pages.
If there’s a lack of content engagement, the Facebook algorithm won’t promote that content to the fans’ news feeds and they’ll likely never see your content.
Illustrating this point, Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), who has among the most Facebook fans of any senator (at nearly 900,000), has among the least engaging Facebook content with a score of 53, according to an analysis by my company — ActionSprout.
In our study, we looked at overall engagement and unearthed ways for anyone looking to optimize their Facebook presence in order to reach and engage voters and constituents. Here’s what we learned:
It’s all about highly engaging content
To create effective content, get in the habit of looking for patterns that indicate what your audience likes to engage with. For instance, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), whose official Facebook page had an engagement score of 604 in our study, has learned that his fan base prefers to engage with images overlaid with a quote sporting a strong position statement. While his page may rely too much on this approach, he nets thousands of likes and comments for every post.
Meanwhile, Alaska’s Dan Sullivan takes a first-person tone with his Facebook page, posting pictures of him on-site, even celebrating Valentine’s Day with his daughter. He only has two thousand-plus fans, but they’re definitely engaged. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R) Facebook page sits on the other end of the spectrum. His page takes a third-person tone, promoting Rubio’s press releases and media interviews. This approach is a definite flop with his audience.
Facebook engagement is audience driven
What drives constituents in Texas may be very different than California. Highly effective Facebook content reflects audience preferences and must corroborate their sense of social self. In order for content to succeed on Facebook, it must drive people to engage. It’s not enough to post high-quality content that informs your target audience. Nor is it enough to post content that your fans enjoy consuming. In order for content to be successful, Facebook fans and their friends must want to be seen consuming and sharing it.
Content that works best is funny, inspiring and newsworthy. Inspiring content does consistently well because Facebook users want that to be a part of their personal narrative. Timely, newsworthy information is also good for engagement. This tactic should be a no-brainer for politicians.
Give the constituents what they want
Following audience content preferences creates engagement – the key metric to determine if you’re deriving meaningful value from your Facebook community. As your audience grows, be sure to check back every month or so to monitor your success. Audience tastes can change so one content strategy won’t last forever. While every Facebook page should have a unique content strategy that’s optimized for their audience, the above are lasting lessons that can be applied across the spectrum.
Shawn Kemp is co-founder of ActionSprout, where he helps power people’s ability to create lasting change by connecting organizations with their supporters. Follow him on Twitter @shawnkemp.