Since the dawn of Facebook marketing, marketers have been searching for the anatomy of the prefect Facebook post – what it should include and what it should look like. I have been involved in countless discussions on this topic and opinions vary from one extreme to the other. Furthermore, I have tried and analyzed various formats for different brands and found that the model published by Shari Monnes in the Hubspot blog is very similar to the model I suggest to marketers and businesses.
The article «The Anatomy of a Successful Facebook Post» by Shari Monnes (2015) mentions a selection of criteria that make up a truly valuable Facebook post. We will use the model in this article to analyze a specific Facebook post of Celtic FC and show what a successful post for a football club can look like. According to Monnes (2015), the top six criteria for a successful Facebook post are:
- The post has a clear goal,
- asks for engagement,
- includes a photo and a link,
- is brief, but uses compelling language,
- isn’t always promotional, and
- is provocative (or inspirational).
To better portray the Monnes model, the Celtic FC post selected for the analysis of this article had to fulfil the above-mentioned six criteria. Therefore, the «Ronny’s Roaring 100» Facebook post from 26 March 2015 was selected. We do not know what the conversion rate of the post is or if Celtic FC reached their set goals. In addition, it is not considered to be relevant for the scope and in the context of this analysis.
1) The Post has a Clear Goal
Monnes (2015) explains, “The key to a successful Facebook post is to start with a clear objective. What do you want this post to do? Drive traffic to your website? Encourage comments that build community? Get people to share it? Spark a debate? If your post has a specific objective it will be much more effective. And that objective should be obvious.”
In our example, the text copy states, “Read all about it in this week’s Celtic View, download now http://bit.ly/Celtic-View”. In this regard, the goal is: Celtic FC wants users to download (and read) Celtic View, the official Celtic Football Club weekly magazine. The goal implies a purchase of the magazine or a multi-magazine subscription. A great feature of online marketing is that the company can measure the performance in terms of conversions of this Facebook post by adding a campID to the URL. It will be hidden, since the company uses a short-URL. Plus, this allows the marketing team to measure exactly how many purchases of Celtic View came through this dedicated Facebook post. And, it is commonly agreed that measuring goals is a crucial step in improving the process and performance of campaigns.
2) Asks for Engagement
A successfully engaging Facebook post has a clear call to action and asks people to follow through in a specific way using words such as “subscribe now,” “share your ideas,” or “tell us what you think.” (Monnes, 2015) The «Ronny’s Roaring 100» post uses a clear call to action statement by asking users to ‘download [Celtic View] now’ with an customized short-URL.
It is important to keep in mind that brands can’t demand everlasting engagement from all their followers on every post, and not every post is suited for engaging the audience. Furthermore, a simple and descriptive Facebook post can be valuable for branding purposes and for pushing a brand top-of-mind. There isn’t always a need to ask for engagement. Certain posts will be liked or shared without the company having to ask for it with a call to action. It is nonetheless crucial for marketers to identify those posts that seem to have a perfect DNA for engagement in combination with the right copywriting.
3) Includes a Photo and a Link
Monnes (2015) underlines that “While photos are typically superior to text-only posts in generating interaction, Facebook reports that link posts outperform photo posts (with links) in generating clicks. Just be sure that when you share a link on Facebook, the page you’re sharing has an image that will appear in the News Feed (a large picture will appear below your post along with a headline and some text when you paste in the URL.)”
It needs to be added that sometimes Facebook does not show the above-mentioned picture. The page needs to be refreshed (it can take several attempts) until a picture, which is crawled from the linked website, is displayed. Once a picture is shown, a new and specific picture, which the company wishes to show with the link, can be uploaded. In addition, marketers can alter the header- and body-text in the link-box.
Our Celtic FC post example shows a carefully crafted picture – or better, creative montage – not a link. The picture includes 6 photos and visuals that underline the message of the post. I prefer uploading pictures with a link onto Facebook instead of links, because photos can later be found in the photos section of a Facebook page. Links do not have a dedicated section.
4) Is Brief, but Uses Compelling Language
Various studies provide different information on the ideal length of a Facebook posts in regard to interaction. Jeff Bullas found in his study of retail brands that 40 is the magic number when it comes to the amount of characters in a Facebook post (FastCompany.com, 2014); KC Claviera quotes Facebook Studio, who claim that posts between 100 and 250 characters (less than 3 lines of text) see about 60% more likes, comments and shares than posts greater than 250 characters (kcclaveria.com, 2012); and, according to Maximilian H. Nierhoff, posts that are about 103 characters in length receive the highest post interaction (quintly.com, 2013). Nonetheless, I suggest that as long as a post could fit in a tweet – less than 140 characters – it has a good chance to receive a satisfactory engagement rate.
The Celtic FC post we analyze in this article counts 151 characters, which is 11 characters too long for a tweet, but can still work fine for the above-stated purposes, in my opinion.
5) Isn’t Always Promotional
I agree with Monnes (2015), who advises to be careful not to let a Facebook page turn into a stream of advertising, even though occasional promotions and offers are expected and effective, as long as a balance with useful content for the audience is provided.
As mentioned above, in our example, the goal of the post is to sell magazines and subscriptions. Nevertheless, the magazine is a useful and emotional source of information for fans and other Celtic FC stakeholders. Therefore, it can be stated that the post does not necessarily have to be considered advertising. Furthermore, not using the wording «buy now», but «download now» enhances the post with a less aggressive tone of voice.
6) Is Inspirational
Shari Monnes’ sixth point is «Posts are provocative (are inspirational)» (2015). I am an advocate for inspirational posts and try to avoid provocative posts whenever possible. Especially in sports, where a minimum of two parties compete against each other, certain supporter groups have the tendency to cross lines and use any kind of public communication against a club or athlete. Because of that, I strongly recommend to only use positive communication, whenever possible.
Our «Ronny’s Roaring 100» post is per se already inspirational and a beautiful homage to the club’s recent history. Offering a physical reminder of the first 100 goals under Ronny Deila with the Celtic View magazine is definitely a great way to celebrate this milestone.
There is no right or wrong way to craft Facebook posts. I advise marketers to try different formats and targetings, as well as surveying the target audience in regard to what they want to find on Facebook. Using Facebook Insights – its analytics tool – in combination with website analytics, is a crucial task in the process of getting to know the audience, understanding what their needs and wants are, and how the club can please them with the most relevant pieces of content. Last but not least, don’t be afraid of piloting different formats and campaigns. Certain things might work well for one football club with a specific following, whereas something completely different might work well with a different supporter group. Just try, measure it, understand why certain things happen or don’t happen, and take measures.