The Engagement Game – Facebook’s Latest

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Using social media for business means learning to play ‘the engagement game’.

It’s logical that to be successful socially, you have to engage with your social circle often and effectively.  Otherwise you’re playing the ‘old school marketing’ game where you’d put out a message and hope it resonated with your target audience.

Social Media Marketing is different.  It’s more immediate and it’s a two way street.  You engage your audience in conversations rather than simply telling them about your business. This means that you have to:
a) put out information that will get them interested enough to want to get involved in a dialogue

b) be responsive and keep the dialogue alive

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Snapchat are easily the most popular social media platforms at present.  Facebook is often considered one of the strongest business social platforms and they capitalize on that by continually working on ways to quantify how socially engaging your messages are.  Love it or hate it, Facebook decides which content is going to be seen and by whom and for how long and when.   Their latest algorithm tweak involves how they measure engagement with posts.

Some time ago they added the facility for members to express their opinion on content by clicking on more than just a simple like icon.  Now you have ‘like’, ‘love’, ‘laugh’, ‘shock’ / ‘surprise’, ‘sad’ and ‘angry’.  Right now, all these emoticons are equally weighted, except for the ‘like’ icon which is worth less.

The current ‘to do’ for all social media managers is to create content that will cause their audience to choose one of the more heavily weighted emotions as a reaction.

A great example of a post with some intense reaction is this one from NASA:

Facebook Reactions 1

As you can see from the exploded view of the reactions, they got a lot more likes than other emoticons, but, they’ve still done pretty well in terms of getting strong engagement.  They’ve also got 56 shares.  It’s a lot more difficult to get shares than it is to get a ‘like’ and, of course, shares therefore count heavily towards how Facebook assesses the value of your content.

How do you get people to like using the stronger emoticons?

The only way to achieve stronger reactions to your content is to stir up stronger emotions.  Think of how news anchors present news on your favorite T.V. news show.  They hype it up and focus on highlighting points that will make their audience feel a strong emotion.  If they presented the information merely factually and in an unemotional and unbiased fashion, people would not be motivated to react nearly as much.

Take a look at this example:

Facebook Reactions 2

Note the hyped up headline and the ‘suggestion’ of the ‘Wow’ surprise face inset on the post.

In this post, you’ll see how the headline has been hyped up using emotive words such as ‘wildly’, ‘unimpressed’ and ‘tantrum’… all words one wouldn’t normally associate with the Queen of England.  To add emphasis and set the example, note the ‘shocked’ / ‘surprised’ icon inset on the image.  There’s nothing like a little nudge in the right direction when you want people to follow a certain course of action.

Including hints in your status update along with the post is a good way to predispose people to react in a certain way. For example by saying “This is hilarious!” or “This broke my heart!” or “Can you believe this?!!!” Your emotion will rub off on your viewers.  When they read your status update and then the post, they’re alread predisposed to react in a stronger emotional way than they would if you simply posted with a mild update, or none at all.

Because shares are such an important part of how Facebook assesses whether or not to show your posts, it’s important to post information that your target audience will want to share with their friends.  It’s weird, but apparently, Facebook thinks your content is more valuable if people think their friends will like it, even if your friends are not interested in your post for themselves.  In my opinion, this somewhat defeats the object of building your targeted audience, but that’s the way it is… for now.

We’ll be discussing the topic of engagement strategies more in future posts.

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