Ooh, to write engaging Facebook posts that people actually responded to. Now wouldn’t that be a joy?
And yes, I know us writers have mixed views about social media. It can take up a lot of writing time, feel overwhelming and we don’t always know what the bejesus we’re meant to be doing.
But my lovely writer friends, we really do need to get this right.
Engaging Facebook Posts – Why?
Social media is not only a fantastic and free marketing tool, but also everything we put out there is a mini showcase for what we do. If we can’t keep our readers entertained in one quick social media post, they are not going to be encouraged to dedicate ten hours to reading one of our gorgeous books.
People, we need to sparkle.
And honestly, it’s not that bad. Writing engaging Facebook posts can be fun. A challenge. A mini writing exercise in itself.
And when your little post goes off with a bang, your heart will fill with joy. (With the added advantage that the Facebook algorithm will think you are an interesting human, and will show your next post to even more people. Facebook likes its scrollers to be entertained. Tickle the algorithm and it will reward you.)
Challenge accepted, I hear you cry! That’s fantastic. So stick on your bush hat and let me walk you through this little jungle. Here is what I’ve learnt about writing engaging Facebook posts through trial, training, and a whole lot of being nosey.
Stop the Scroll!
The overarching principle is that it’s our job to ‘stop the scroll.’
Most social media users are just mindlessly scrolling with short attention spans.
That’s NOT to say they’re idiots – I am absolutely a mindless scroller (and I have a pretty shiny degree in law.) But when it comes to social media I’m usually on the hop, or multi-tasking. I’m there to be entertained and competition is fierce. You need to reach out from my screen and grab me.
Now don’t be put off – you can do this. You entertain people with your words every day. You’re a creative. A world builder. You’re already streets ahead. So let’s break it down.
Start With a Hook
We do it in our novels. We may even do it at the beginning and end of each chapter. We do it to agents, publishers, blah, blah, blah…
So why wouldn’t we use these magic powers on social media too?
Copywriters swear by it – and they’re the people in the know. They are the people who sell things with words.
But don’t panic and don’t over think it. You probably do this every day when you’re having a chat. Think about how you start your conversations. Is it something like ‘hey, you’ll never guess what?’ Because that’s a hook. I already want to know ‘what’.
Or ‘did I tell you about the time the dog fell in the pond?’ There, easy. You’ve piqued my interest. You’ve started with the action, or a promise of the fun to come.
Of course, you don’t always have to do this. It’s OK to mix it up a bit. But start strong. Some people will only read the top line, so make it cracking.
Use an Image
I see so many posts with no pictures. If you want to stop the scroll, your best friend is an image.
It doesn’t have to be current, or even that relevant. Just something to catch the eye – some colour or movement.
A GIF is great if you don’t have a useful pic to hand. It will take you seconds to find one, and most are pretty entertaining. So you’ll make your audience smile too – win-win.
In terms of photos, don’t worry about perfection. People like real. People like faces. Their eyes are caught by bright colours.
You can use a stock image, but these don’t always work as well. It’s social media, not a catalogue. People want to see you. (And your dinner, front room, cat. Yes, we’re weird. But we do.)
You can use a quick filter on your photos to make them pop. You can even try and stick to similar filters, colours or themes in your photos, so that people see them and stop, because they recognise your style.
But don’t get overwhelmed – there’s nothing wrong with just keeping it real on Facebook. You can save the faffing for Insta!
White Space is Your Friend
My next easy tip for engaging Facebook posts? Lots of white space!
Much like with blog posts, forget the rules about paragraphs. People’s eyes are tired, as are their brains, if they’re anything like me. Do them a favour – break up your paragraphs as much as possible.
One-line paragraphs are OK.
Don’t overwhelm readers with huge chunks of words. It’s not a book. Help them. Feel their pain. Guide their tired eyes with snappy little paragraphs.
Embrace the Emoji
You may not love this one, and I get you. At first I thought pah, my readers are not children. They don’t need to see text littered with questionable aubergine emojis.
But actually, it works. At least, it does for me.
Because my eyes are worn out. If you break up those words with cute little dog faces or colourful hearts, you’ll keep my eyes bouncing from pic to pic. I will follow your text like a childish Gretel chasing crumbs. I need colour. I need interest. Humour me.
Call to Action
Gone are the days when you can just post something pithy and pray someone bothers to comment. You need to give direction.
Make it easy and clear. What do you want your reader to do? Follow a link (if so – add it! People are too busy to go on a treasure hunt), add a comment?
If you want comments (and trust me, you do. You want the algorithm to love you) don’t forget to ask a question! Make it simple. Not ‘tell me your life story’. A no-brainer is always good. Something which just needs a short response, a quick choice, or a what’s your favourite…
Quality over Quantity
The algorithm likes consistency. This does not mean you have to post every day, but choose a routine and try and stick to it. Three or four posts a week is fine. Less, if that’s all you can commit to.
It is better to put great posts out there and have time to fully engage with them, than to scattergun every day and hope for the best.
Because on Facebook, you are only as good as your last post.
So if you stick up something crappy because you feel you have to, and nobody engages, Facebook will show your next post to less people. Quality over quantity. (This is something I have learnt from social media managers, and they do this for a living. We can trust them.)
And definitely don’t always be salesy. Mix it up. People, and indeed the algorithm, do not want to see reams of external links to your book/blog/whatever. (Facebook prefers to keep its people on their own platform, thank you very much!)
Once you’ve decided on your routine, keep going, even if at the beginning you feel a bit ignored. At the moment, groups and personal profiles have much better engagement than pages. But keep going – you’ll get there.
I also find that if I spend time engaging with others on Facebook at some point before my post goes out, and I’m also there to respond to comments after my post goes out, the Facebook algorithm seems to like me more. (Think of it like a little pooch. Feed it and it will be kind to you.)
If you want to keep engagement going, try to respond to your comments with a question, to get people chatting. (Obviously try and judge it – don’t be too demanding.) This way you will get to know people in a genuine way, and all of this will become fun. I promise!
Don’t feel you have to respond to all comments at once. It’s actually better if you dip in and out, as each comment you add bumps your post back to the top of the feed. Better to be at the top several times, rather than just once.
Time of day is pretty crucial. There are stats on the best times of day to post on each social platform should you wish to Google them, but honestly, it’s better to just test the waters.
It really depends on your audience. My mum blog audience engages at a totally different time of day to my Chick Lit and Prosecco girls. Both of these groups seem to behave differently to the friends and family on my profile. Know your ideal reader (we’ll discuss that more in a future blog post), keep an eye on your Facebook Insights, and see what works for you.
For example it’s no good if I put out a parenting post when my mum blog audience are doing the school run. Crickets.
Have fun and be You
Now that I’ve bombarded you with a million instructions, I’m going to say ‘just be you.’
Social media is fun; it’s a party in your slippers. Don’t think of it as work, or it will show.
Be grateful for the opportunity to mingle with your people. Make sure you comment on other people’s posts as well as hoping they will engage with yours. It’s a community. We’re in it together. And the algorithm will like you more if you are friendly. The algorithm knows…
Phew, so that was a lot of stuff! I can’t honestly say I do all of this all of the time – life is too short. But when I try to stick to as much of the above as possible, those are the times when I see much better results. So each to their own, as always. But I hope some of these ideas have helped.
I Would Love to Know…
What are your little tips and tricks for social media? Do you love it or hate it? Let’s share the knowledge and get chatting.
And as always, thank you so much for reading. You’re my pineapple in a world of apples.
Writer, Blogger, Author of Funny Love Stories