How to Engage with Your Audience More Effectively Using Social Media

Posted by Connie Dettman

December 1, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Engage Your Customers With Social Media

Data Unveils Effective Strategies for Retail Facebook Posts

In a very short timespan, social media has secured its role as a means of building trusting relationships with key audiences. Retailers have found social media tools such as Facebook particularly beneficial for driving traffic to store promotions or special events. It’s safe to say that all retailers are in agreement on this flourishing medium’s power to communicate and to motivate. But what they all don’t agree on is the frequency and the content of their postings. This article, distilled from a recent Buddy Media statistical report, discusses social media research findings such as “the best times for retailers to post” and “the most effective types of content.”

Let’s look at some of the key data compiled from Facebook fans of the top 100 retail brands. Analyzing their social media usage habits provide some keen insights that can improve the effectiveness of your own program.

What time of day should you post?

Facebook statistics reveal that 89% of retail posts are published between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. – the time, ironically, when most users are busy. To generate increased “likes” and comments, retailers should publish when users are listening most – i.e., after they get home from work and/or shuttling kids to and fro. Data shows that fans are 20% more likely to engage with retail brand posts made between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. – the “non-busy” hours.

How often should you post?

As a rule of thumb, it’s quality before quantity. Facebook fans like to receive messages from the brands they have chosen to “friend,” but they do not like to be inundated. Research shows that retailers should post no more than one or two posts a day. Three or four posts tend to irritate the user, resulting in less of a chance that he or she will “like” the post or comment. The same holds true for weekly frequency. Don’t smother your fans. The ideal number of posts is in the one-to-four range. Studies show that five or more posts harm your user engagement rate. Posting one to four times produces 71% higher user engagement than posting five or more times per week.

When is the best day to post?

Facebook data uncovered by Buddy Media shows that Wednesday is the best day for retail brands to post. User engagement with Facebook spikes on Wednesdays, followed by Sundays. Friday is the worst day to post. Sunday postings might present an opportunity for retailers, since that is a day that most retailers do not publish on their Facebook pages.

What is the recommended length?

Retail consumers don’t like to read long blocks of copy. Never is this more true than when it comes to social media posts. Buddy Media’s research shows that posts of 40 characters or less receive 86% higher fan engagement than those that exceed that length. And yet, 95% of all retail brand posts exceed the 40-character length. Facebook posting gives marcom professionals the opportunity to put their “less is more” training to good use.

What type of content works best?

The key to a successful Facebook program is to establish an ongoing dialogue. And just like any conversation, asking questions is a good way to get people talking. To drive comments, ask an interesting question and ask for a response. Ask fans to post, comment or tell you something. Another useful way to engage your customers is to take a poll. Choose “Question” under Share and learn from your fans. A fill-in-the-blank strategy also works well. Asking fans to fill in the blank (“I like _____,” for example) generates comments nine times higher than other posting strategies. It’s interesting to note that only 1% of retail brands are utilizing this tactic. Bottom line, people like to express themselves more than they like to hear what you have to say.

Posting on the right day at the right time with the right message requires some discipline, hard work and an understanding of Facebook fans usage habits. But more than that, it requires a well thought-out strategy and perhaps some assistance from social media “publishing tools” such as Buddy Media, Involver and Sprout Social. Publishing tools give you the ability to schedule posts at times when you are not in the office (Sundays and “non-busy” hours, for example), plus they can provide key metrics that will allow you to continue to improve your program.

If you’d like some assistance crafting and/or executing a social media strategy, please contact Connie Dettman at 815-847-7533 or cdettman@heinzeroth.com.

Topics: Social Media, Consumer Retail