The One Thing That Drives Facebook Engagement

By Barry Hott

What users want.

When writing content for a Facebook page, it’s hard to remember that users aren’t on Facebook to read your Facebook posts. They’re there to see their friends’ photos and activities and, if you’re lucky, they won’t be frustrated when they see your page’s content. So how do you get users to engage with your content when they don’t even want to see it?

You need to understand what motivates your fans.

In her post last week, our CEO touched upon a topic that I’d like to expand upon: What drives you to click the ‘like’ button? Is it a cute kitten? A political point you agree with? A beautiful sunset? A funny story? A greasy hamburger? A friend’s new job/relationship/house/pet/car/child? All of these drive back to one key motivation:

Pride.

When a Facebook user likes, comments, or shares a Facebook post, they know that their friends are going to see (and judge) that action. They obviously don’t want to engage with something that they would be embarrassed or ashamed to share, but they also won’t engage with something simply if they aren’t proud of it. Vegetarians won’t like a post about a cheeseburger. Republicans won’t share a post about Obama. Wine lovers won’t comment on a post about beer. You might get some negative comments from time to time, but generally, engagement comes from a positive place.

If you expect that by slapping your logo on a piece of content you will gain tons of engagement, you’re sorely mistaken. Every brand wants users to be proud fans of the brand itself, but that’s rarely the case. It’s more likely that the majority of fans merely like your brand, but won’t necessarily shout it from rooftops. To increase your fan engagement, you need to tap into their pride.

It helps to imagine everyone on Facebook as constantly trying to impress their friends, family members, coworkers, and strangers, trying to prove that they are funny, smart, “in the know”, or any number of other positive traits. To get the best engagement, ask yourself: “Would people be proud to share this with their friends and family?” If your content doesn’t help impress people, then most users won’t engage with it.

It’s not easy to know exactly what your fans want, but there are ways you can learn. Do a little research into what makes them tick. You can use Facebook’s ad platform to discover your fans’ other interests on Facebook or do a Graph Search for users that like your brand as well as other relevant brands or interests. You can also track the types of content that perform best by tagging categories in your content calendar, comparing that with the data from Facebook insights, and replicating your best performing posts.

If you tap into what your fans want and make them proud to share your content, you’ll be sure to see more engagement.

What would you post about to make your fans and customers feel proud?

[...] #3 You can catch more fish with a wider net.  Once you get the people in your organization to like or follow you in social media they can share your posts with all of their friends in social media, and so on.  Your effort to reach one person can, in fact, reach many many more.  The algorithms in Facebook, for example, push content to the top of the news feed the more times it has been liked or shared, so if you just get the ball rolling then your followers will keep it moving for you, expanding your audience.  The key here is posting content that people will be proud to share.  [...]
Teresa Pangan May 25, 2013
This is so key - always working on it. I ask myself "Would my fan look good sharing the piece?" same as your ask yourself: “Would people be proud to share this with their friends and family?" It keeps me focused on them, not me. :-)
Michal Smetana May 21, 2013
"When a Facebook user likes, comments, or shares a Facebook post, they know that their friends are going to see (and judge) that action. They obviously don’t want to engage with something that they would be embarrassed or ashamed to share." This is so much true. Many businesses with Facebook pages don't realize that they are posting the content to their fans and that this content is there for the fans to give them some value and to show them, why they have liked the page. Not to try to persuade them into buying something, etc. That is not the right way how to do social media. Thanks for sharing this article with us.
disqus_yInLY5m4sX May 20, 2013
The scientific term for this is self-identity resonance. There is some great information in the psych literature about how it works and how it influences (often unconsciously) an individual's thought processes.

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