SMO Tips for Better-performing Posts to Facebook and Twitter
OPTIMIZATIONTIPS FOR BETTER-PERFORMING POSTS
TO FACEBOOK AND TWITTER
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.022 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
In February 2012, Facebook announced at the Facebook Marketing Conference that just 16% of
fans on average see the posts on most Facebook Pages.1
This percentage came as a shock to Page
admins. But it illustrated that despite the enormous growth of social media over the past several
years, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to cut through the noise of the feeds on multiple
How does a social team keep up and consistently produce engaging posts across social networks?
Optimization. Now, it is more important than ever to optimize each post for each social network
in order for more people to not only see your content, but feel compelled to interact with it as
well. Social post optimization requires big thinking as well as intense attention to detail. The
tricky part about getting the details just right is that there are many moving parts.
Optimizing your social media posts for engagement is an ongoing quest, but one that can do
nothing but boost your exposure and your ability to solicit interaction from fans and followers.
OPTIMIZING FOR ENGAGEMENT
Among the primary goals of many social media programs is engagement. The most successful
Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts have histories of social media research and testing that
have allowed them to uncover what types of posts work for them.
Optimizing social posts for any network includes optimizing for reach and optimizing for interaction.
Planning for enhanced reach helps engagement, and engagement, in many cases, can propel the
content to a wider audience.
Post optimization can broadly be broken down into these focus areas:
SOCIAL MEDIA OPTIMIZATION
TIPS FOR BETTER PERFORMING POSTS TO FACEBOOK AND TWITTER
CONTENT FORMAT TIMING CALLS TO
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.023 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
What content will result in the interaction you are hoping to generate?
Content is the driver for social media engagement. As content marketing leader Joe Chernov
said, if social media is a sports car, then content is the gasoline. “The sports car goes nowhere
without a tank of gas.”2
Even the most perfectly optimized posts could fall flat if content doesn’t resonate. Brands are
faced with the challenge of creating content that will help them meet their goals, whether that
means driving traffic and sales from social sites, generating leads, or sparking engagement and
interaction to help reinforce the bond with their community. An added challenge is striking a
good balance of content types, with directly promotional content balanced with topics that
inform, educate, or entertain.
What format should the post adopt to get the most reach?
Will the post include a photo or video, for example? This will depend on the social network, and
in many cases one piece of content might take on different formats to suit the social network it’s
being posted to. While format can help determine reach, as in the case of Facebook’s EdgeRank
algorithm, it can also help encourage interaction.
When should the post be published to be seen by the most of my community?
How often should I post?
There have been a slew of studies that offer data analysis about the best times to post and how
often to post. While these can provide guidelines to experiments with, the best times to post and
receive the most exposure is determined by your own audience’s habits on each social site and
uncovered by your social media analytics.
CALLS TO ACTION
What calls to action will result in the outcome I’m looking for on this post?
Calls to action are the gateway to the results you are trying to achieve. These will vary from network
to network based on the audience, the content, the goal of the post, and the functionality of the
platform at hand.
Optimizing for reach and interaction will provide a basis for each post that helps you no
matter which network you’re publishing on. Each social network has its own additional
requirements for excellent optimized posts. But by evaluating these criteria for reach and
interaction, you’ll be able to reach as much of your audience as you can, while encouraging
the interactions that help you meet your goals and create positive social media ROI.
How do these factors translate to Facebook and Twitter? Here is a breakdown of what
optimization for reach and interaction mean in real-world terms for these networks.
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.024 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
Optimizing posts for Facebook requires a varying set
of factors to consider. In addition to the chief goal of
generating interaction through great content, Page
admins also must take into account Facebook’s internal
algorithm that determines what shows up in the news
feed, also known as EdgeRank.
The classic definition of EdgeRank that social marketers
have come to know is the formula above, comprised
of these components: affinity, weight, and time. In
short, it says that each time a user or Page creates
an “object” that is eligible for placement in the new
feed, affinity, weight, and time are taken into account
to determine whether it becomes visible. Affinity is
the relationship between a Page and a user, including
how often a user interacts with a Page. Weight assigns
a value to a specific action, such as a like vs. a share,
and time takes into account the elapsed time a post
or interaction as taken place.
But the true, working version of the new feed algorithm
is constantly changing, with Facebook making tweaks
roughly every week, said Will Cathcart, Facebook’s
product manager of news feed.3
Some of those tweaks
become more apparent to page admins than others,
as in the case of a major update Facebook made to
the algorithm in September 2012.
What started as a noticeable change in metrics,
especially reach, prompted theories that Facebook
had altered the News Feed algorithm.4
that it had done so to encourage Page admins to
invest more heavily in Promoted Posts to boost the
reach of posts to more of their fans.
The discussion surrounding that change prompted
Facebook to share more details about the algorithm. In
November 2012, it described the four factors the algorithm
takes into account, as reported by TechCrunch5
How often a user has interacted with posts from
that Page in the past.
The more a user engages with posts, the more likely
he or she will see future posts by that Page in the
How others interact with posts from a Page.
Whether others are engaging heavily with a post –
or if those who do see it do not interact or they
provide negative feedback – determines if post will
be shown to other fans of the Page.
What type of content a user engages with.
Does a user always interact with photos, for example?
Photos are then more likely to be displayed to that user.
How much negative feedback a Page as received
on a post or overall.
Negative feedback on Facebook posts include
• Hiding a post
• Hiding all posts from the news feed
• Unliking the Page
• Reporting a post as spam
The more users take these negative actions, the less
likely content is displayed. Pages that have lower the
average rates of negative actions are also rewarded,
said Facebook’s Cathcart.6
NFO: News Feed Optimization
- affinity score between viewing user and edge creator
- weight for this edge type (create, comment, like, tag, etc.)
- time decay factor based on how long ago the edge was created
ue we de
AllFacebook, Nov. 16, 2012: http://allfacebook.com/facebook-news-feed-placement-is-all-about-relevancy_b104909
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.025 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
(In an effort to make the news feed more relevant to users,
the changes made in September to the algorithm include
a much greater emphasis on these negative actions,
which had a negative impact on reach for many Pages.7
In September Facebook also made the option to take a
negative action easier to access through a drop-down
menu on every post. The decrease in the reach of posts
that do not see engagement has led to an increase in
engagement, according to Facebook’s Matt Idema,
the company’s product marketing director of ads.8
TACTICS FOR OPTIMIZING FOR FACEBOOK
Even with the frequent changes in the algorithm behind the news feed, there are ways to optimize
posts to reach more people and generate interaction. Tips for optimization in each of these areas:
All of this new information about the News
Feed algorithm points to the main concept
that Page admins need to know is that
engagement is the most important factor
in getting your content to rank higher
in the News Feed.
CALL TO ACTION
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.026 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
What content engages your Facebook fans? Engagement is the driving force behind News Feed
visibility, not to mention great content’s impact with each fan.
• Use Facebook Insights to learn more about your fans and merge those insights with what you
know about your customer base overall. If your key demographic is moms, for example, and you
see that you’re reaching younger moms on Facebook, tailoring a greater percentage of content
to women with younger children could help boost interaction. Knowing which subset of customers
are fans of your Pages helps focus potential topics.
Also studying negative feedback for each post provides indicators of what content has prompted
fans to take a negative action. One PageLever study found that users are most likely to hide all
posts from a page when they take a negative action – 60 times more likely than unliking a Page.9
This, coupled with an algorithm that takes negative feedback into account, highlights the need
to invest in analyzing your data, which can help build content that compels users to engage.
• Experiment with Facebook Page post targeting. By using the new Facebook page post targeting
options, you are able to make posts as relevant to a sub-segment of users as possible. Target
specific content to fans filtered by everything from location to relationship status, education,
and gender. The greater the relevance, the more likely content is to strike a chord and
• Analyze what’s been successful in the past. Only by knowing what’s worked will you know
how to boost your numbers of Engaged Users and the likes, comments, and shares of posts.
Working in tandem with content is the format that content will take in the Facebook post.
• Post photos. Images have been the star of 2012, with visual content exploding on places like
Pinterest and Instagram. On Facebook, photos are consistently receiving the highest engagement
rates, beating text updates, links, and videos.10
They’re getting up to 20x the engagement
of other post types, wrote PageLever’s Brian Carter.11
Brands continue to see success with
• Experiment with other formats to see what resonates with your audience. A well-crafted status
update can garner more likes, comments, and shares than a photo post that isn’t as engaging.
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.027 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
CALLS TO ACTION
Great content in the right format still relies on a well-crafted call to action to generate engagement.
On Facebook, testing what phrases and requests for action works for you over time is crucial.
• Double-check you have a call to action. Even when posting links, include a specific action that
can drive engagement on Facebook.
• Either/or questions and fill in the blank messaging helps guide comments and solicit opinions.
• Integrate your call to action with your photo for a quick impact in the news feed that is
designed to generate comments.
There have been numerous studies on when the best times are to post on Facebook. Some have
pointed to the hours of 1 to 4 p.m., with the peak times being 3 p.m. on Wednesdays.12
encourage posting on weekends, others advise against publishing after business hours. The only
definite point in terms of timing are that each company is different. Ultimately it depends on your
unique audience and their habits. Experiment with posting times and days of the week. Enlist a
social media measurement tool that can help you uncover the reach and interaction rates of posts
at different times throughout the day.
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.028 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
Twitter is a substantially different social network than Facebook when it comes to optimization.
Although it doesn’t rely on an algorithm to be seen by followers, the lifecycle of a tweet
is much shorter. Still, here are ways to optimize your tweets to get the most out of your
efforts on Twitter.
TACTICS FOR OPTIMIZING FOR TWITTER
CALL TO ACTION
Like content for all social networks, content that is relevant for your audience works best
and is the foundation of optimizing tweets.
• Use the 80/20 rule as a guideline for the content you’re publishing - 80% relevant content
that’s educational and from reputable sources, and the other 20% to promote your
company’s own content.
• Add appropriate hashtags. Carefully selected hashtags can widen your reach. Hashtags
for an event let your company contribute to the conversation.
• Add context to information you share with followers. Knowing what your audience is
interested in and what they tend to interact with can help you tailor tweets to them.
Adding a few words about how a particular article or video can help them specifically
encourages them to click.
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.029 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
• Attach images to tweets for greater context. Twitter and many third-party Twitter
clients include in-line display of images. One recent study found tweets with images
outperformed text-only tweets by 91%.13
• Include links to provide followers with external resources, and be straightforward about
where the links are taking users. Use a trackable short URL service to see which links
received the most clicks.
• Condense to less than 140 characters.
Make it easy for those sharing to add their
input and RT your content.
Like the timing of Facebook posts, the timing of tweets depends on your audience. Bit.ly
found that tweets that included links were published after 8 p.m. every day and after
3 p.m. on Fridays are among the worst times, compared to tweets sent between 1 and
3 p.m. Eastern time which performed best.14
HubSpot’s Dan Zarrella found that tweets
posted on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday had higher clickthrough rates than other days of
Possibly in part because there are fewer tweets posted during those times.16
• Tracking tweet timing will help you assess when your followers are most likely to both
click on your links and share with their followers. Tools like Shoutlet and free tools on
the market can help you track clickthroughs and retweets.
CALLS TO ACTION
• Asking for a retweet is among the most direct
calls to action, and there’s evidence that asking
does help generate added shares. Zarrella’s
research also found that using key phrases in the
tweet were more likely to have higher CTRs.17
Tweets with the Word
Tweets without the Word
Shoutlet, Inc. 2012 • v12.0210 shoutlet.com • facebook.com/shoutlet • twitter.com/shoutlet
Even with slews of studies and guidance from the social networks, the best way to
uncover the right mix of great content, perfect timing, effective calls to action, and the
right format will be to learn as much about your audience as you can, then experiment
and continue to optimize as needed.
Shoutlet is a leading cloud-based enterprise social marketing platform that enables
marketers to publish, engage, and measure social marketing campaigns and activities
on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Its industry leading functionality includes a Social CRM for Facebook, Twitter, and
YouTube management; Social Canvas®
for Facebook tabs, HTML5 pages, and custom
contest and web app design; Social Switchboard®
for trigger-based campaign publishing;
Social Profiles for data acquisition and interest segmentation; Social Enterprise for
corporate-level control of multiple brands, franchises, and agents; and Social Analytics
for metric tracking and custom reporting.
SHARE THIS PAPER: