Facebook is soon to hit a big birthday — it’s 18th! And certainly, in the almost two decades it has been around on the internet, society has changed irrevocably. What began as a college directory featuring contact information and photos has turned into a communication channel favoured by millions worldwide, documenting the highs and lows of life and all it entails, digitally.
Now the largest social media website in the world, Facebook attracts some 2.6 billion active users every month. This means that while most businesses will undoubtedly find that many of their customers (both existing and potential) reside there in some respect, it is now more difficult than ever to identify them, target them, and stand out from the crowd in such a competitive and noisy atmosphere.
Attracting the attention of customers on Facebook, and better yet, maintaining that attention and engaging them regularly, is the job role of many specialised marketers and social media managers. But how to ‘crack’ the algorithm and find the right level of interest for your business without having access to departments full of expert staff? How to engage your customers on Facebook in a sustainable and appropriate manner? Let us deep dive and find some answers…
Of course, if you’re looking for details on best how to engage your customers on Facebook, you’re first going to have to be sure that they’re actually there, and active on the platform. Statistics around Facebook may well surprise you. Consider the following:
Facebook communities are often older than many may consider social media audiences to be
Only 32% of people aged 12-34 use Facebook more than any other social media channel — but just five years ago, this figure was 58%. The entry of new channels into the market has clearly vastly impacted this rate and it continues to decline. Users aged 25-34 are the largest and most active age group on the site. For younger audiences, Facebook may not be the best social media channel to target — and for older people, social media may not be the best way of marketing at all.
Facebook users tend to use mobile devices to access the site/app
The highest engagement time for posts to Facebook is Wednesday at 11am — further reinforcing the idea that most people using the site are either not in 9-5 office-based employment or are well-connected enough with their devices that they can ‘log on’ any time. Indeed, 79.9% of Facebook users only access the site through a mobile device.
There’s a gender divide in Facebook users
Despite their reporting being limited to standard ‘male’ and ‘female’ categorisation, there’s quite clearly a gender imbalance among Facebook users. Around 57% of the site’s total users are male, while 43% are female — a big difference compared to Instagram and other networks, which are considerably closer to an even 50/50 split.
Facebook users go global
Although those reading this article in English are likely to target the UK, US or other English-speaking countries with their marketing, Facebook’s biggest market is actually India. The network has the most users there (by a huge margin), followed by the USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the UK. The regions with the fastest growth for Facebook at present are North Africa and the Middle East, while its actually losing market share in Japan, Germany and Italy.
It’s impossible to set a standard level for what is considered decent engagement on Facebook because of the variance between niches, audiences and ad types. However, looking at the overall pattern of engagement by Facebook users can help give some indication of a target.
The average engagement rate per Facebook post is 0.27% — considerably lower than anybody posting on the site would hope for. However, Facebook users are likely to see a post — they spend an average of 38 mins per day scrolling through the site! In October 2020, Facebook users made an average of 12 likes, 5 comments, 1 share and 1 page like.
The best way to judge what’s a decent level of engagement for a business audience is to benchmark against others in the same niche or industry. It’s important not to just average out numbers from your competitors’ posts though as there’s more to it than just the figures you can see! Using tools like Feefo’s Industry Benchmarking can help ascertain where your competitors are succeeding and what the appropriate engagement levels should be across all channels, and not just Facebook.
Put simply: the best content is relevant, appropriate, targeted content. If your viewers find value in your content, they will engage with it.
To best understand the most relevant content type to encourage engagement, businesses must first understand how people use Facebook and what they want from it. At that point, they can launch into a trial-and-error process to better understand what is relevant to each niche.
At present, more than 1.4 billion people are using ‘Facebook groups’ on at least a monthly basis, and 26% of all groups are built around a hobby or activity. Interestingly, 15% of all Facebook content is now video, and vertical videos generate the highest engagement rate of all content types. What’s more, some 500 million people use ‘Facebook stories’ at least once a day. The statistics around content types used here will give a good indication of trends and patterns of Facebook usage and can help businesses judge future marketing direction.
Creating Facebook content, or any social media content, is never a case of simply typing out a caption for an image and hitting ‘post’ — or at least, not if you wish to really engage and interact with your customer base. Consider the following points to maximise visibility, engagement and perceived content value.
Statistics tell us that Facebook users almost exclusively use mobile devices to access the network — and this should be considered in content creation. Any content posted must fit display and format properly on mobile devices and smartphones, or it will simply be discounted and ignored. This means content must load quickly and must be dynamic. What’s more, video content should always have captioning — this will make it more accessible for people with hearing difficulties, as well as allowing those who don’t want to turn their device on ‘loud’ to still engage.
Experimenting with different days and times to post can you help find the time when your most relevant audience is online and ready to engage properly. Businesses can also experiment with frequent posting to ensure they stay present in news feeds, creating consistent and timely reminders of the brand/product/service.
With almost a quarter of Facebook users utilising the site to indulge an interest or hobby, linking in a brand/product/service to a niche community can be hugely beneficial. The continued lockdowns of 2020 and early 2021 have seen more people searching for new activities and pastimes than ever before, and sparking interest by taking advantage of such newfound open-mindedness could even unlock new audiences.
Facebook stories are growing in popularity but their content only stays in place over a 24-hour period. However, engagement is engagement, and interaction on stories demonstrates to the network’s algorithm that content is relevant and popular, even if it’s not permanent. Businesses can experiment with stories and even signpost and incentivise users to engage with their temporary content to find what works best for them.
You will see trends in content types as marketers try to predict what the algorithms behind social media networks favour. Currently, it is believed that new features (such as Facebook stories and Instagram reels) ‘score’ higher than older ones. That said, there are many ways that creators can cleverly craft content for older formats that will register well.
Old standards like cat photos and memes are popular, of course, but they often don’t tie into a business objective or call to action in a productive manner. If you are posting content, it will need to be adapted to your brand, but rather than just posting a standard image and text, the following can be tried:
- Product photos with a twist — is there another use for your product that users may not have thought of? Or a hidden feature people tend to miss? Highlight it!
- Funny or stand-out reviews — while highlighting positive reviews is always a popular social media tactic, utilising any funny or unusual reviews can drive interest and encourage engagement.
- Video content — videos are an increasingly popular content form and are easier (and cheaper!) to create than ever. However, videos do need to grab attention from the beginning in order for users to continue watching. Behind-the-scenes videos or those showing aspects to the business that customers wouldn’t usually see can help create ‘binge-able’ content.
- Contests and giveaways — a quick and easy way to encourage engagement with content is to host a giveaway or competition, but there are rules to consider around them (see Facebook T&Cs for more information). Giveaways that require engagement with the post can give visibility to a broader user base than usual.
- Coupons and discounts — who doesn’t love money off? Offering a limited edition or time-constrained offer, coupon or discount can help broaden and online audience and is likely to encourage engagement in the form of post shares and tags as users look to make others aware.
- Polls and surveys — encouraging Facebook users to ‘have their say’ can be hugely beneficial to a business for driving consumer insights. Those engaging on Facebook may only have a limited time span in which to engage, so Q&As should be kept short and succinct, but it may be worth incentivising users to visit a fuller, longer survey off-site for further data gathering.
- How-to guides — ‘how to’ is a valuable content type and one that users are likely to share onward and save for future reference. Such guides don’t need to directly describe the product type, just issues relating to it. For example, a blender company could post ‘how to’ smoothie recipes, or an activewear company ‘how to’ various workouts.
The mysterious ‘algorithm’ is much maligned by those using social media professionally but such frustration is often not as justified as many may assume it to be. The ‘key’ to pleasing that algorithm and maximising interest and engagement on social media is simply to know your customer and produce content they’ll find valuable.
All audiences are different and their variances cannot be underestimated. What’s more, it’s likely that what your customer says they want and what they actually value may well differ. This can also be the case when customers describe what they think a product does for them and you compare it to what it actually does — perceptions are rarely entirely accurate.
If a business doesn’t already have comprehensive insight into their target audience, it needs to be obtained as soon as possible. This is done easily through research, reviews and survey findings of customers — both existing and potential.
Once the insights have given sufficient understanding into customer appetite and engagement potential, more extensive content can be produced to meet the needs of those consuming it. The content can then be pitched at an appropriate level; customers already interested in the field within which a business operates may enjoy survey findings and industry insights, product guides, blog posts of thought leadership pieces, authority quotes or research results. Those who require some further nurturing toward the brand/product/service may need some lighter content that’s fun, humorous or more thought-provoking.
The truth is, you can’t engage your customers on Facebook if you don’t know who they are and what they want. Learning these facts, and creating content with them at its heart, will fuel engagement, enthusiasm and even business revenue!
Net Promoter® and NPS® are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.
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