No ordinary Facebook update: how to help content spread further online

Screenshot of mobile photo on a Facebook Page - colorful cows on paradeThanks to a request by Pat Jenkins on my previous post about getting a tweet to spread further, here are some ideas for getting more mileage out of Facebook updates.

I’m currently actively managing two Facebook Pages (one for Tourism Currents and one for my Elastic Waist Entrepreneur book project) plus my personal account, so it’s important to me that I put content in the right place at the right time. Just tossing it out everywhere is ineffective AND annoying to those who follow me.

Having a smartphone gives me a potent piece of equipment for making content on the fly, particularly since photos are one of the best ways to increase EdgeRank and interaction on Facebook.

Let’s walk through an example:

Send a good photo from your phone to your Page

Opportunities to create content are everywhere.

As I left the ProductCamp Austin marketing conference last Saturday, I walked past the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum enroute my car. There were several brightly-colored decorated cows scattered around the lawn in front of the museum – it’s the Cow Parade Austin public art project.

Public art has a tourism angle, so this would be a fun update for our Tourism Currents Page.

Smartphone cameras don’t handle tricky lighting situations very well, so I had to do some maneuvering to get an image that wasn’t too dark (the sun was at a bad angle,) showed off the cow’s colorful Picasso-esqe design and also included the well-known giant bronze Lone Star behind it. The star is a recognizable landmark that sits in the front plaza of the Bullock Museum. Here’s the photo on our Facebook Page.

My Android Facebook app is pretty worthless, so to send the photo to a Page, I have to send it as an attachment in an email, to a special email address just for that Page.

**  You can do this, too:  as an Admin, go to Edit Page, look to the left sidebar for Mobile, click that and you’ll see a unique Page email address to m.facebook.com that you can use to send email updates from your phone.  I haven’t tried this with a regular cell/feature phone, but since even my old flip phone could send emails with photos, I’ll bet you can.

To think about:  If you think your personal Facebook friends would also enjoy your photo subject, then feel free to send a pic up to your personal profile as well, but here are two suggestions:

1)  Send a photo of a different subject, or at least a different angle on the same subject. Some of the same people may follow both your personal profile and business Page, and duplicate content at the same time can clog their News feed and is, well, kinda boring.

2)  Once something is posted, I prefer to Share content from my business Pages to my personal profile; it gives business content EdgeRank “oomph” the more often it’s Shared, Liked and/or commented on. If my phone app was better, I could do this from the phone, but for now I have to wait and do it on my laptop.

Always Be Tagging

The ability to tag, or link to, whoever or whatever you’re discussing on Facebook is a powerful tool, so take advantage of it. Tagging means that you’ll show up on the Wall of the person or brand you’ve tagged, plus it gives your followers an easy way to find the entities you’re talking about without making them hunt around Facebook themselves to look for it.

This is sometimes easier said than done. The tagging function – put an @ symbol and then right after it type the name of who/what you wish to tag, and you can’t tag people when you’re acting as a Page – has been really balky for me lately. It also means that you may have to find and then Like the tag-ee’s Page; a requirement before you can tag them, and then you may need to reload your Page for it to “take.”

Who could I tag in this photo?  Ideas include the Cow Parade organization, the Bullock Museum, the City of Austin, the Austin CVB, the Dell Children’s Medical Center charity that benefits from this particular art project and news organizations like the Austin American-Statesman that have given it media coverage.

Again, this is easier for me to do once I get home on my laptop. You can tag brands in photos (when the feature is working – grrrr) or I can add a comment to the photo and tag in that, or I can Edit the photo later and add the tag then.

Side note:  the Cow Parade Facebook presence is wrong so I did not tag them – they’ve set up a personal profile rather than a Page, which goes against Facebook’s Terms of Service and means they could be removed at any time. I don’t connect when I see that mistake.

Bonus screwup: I saw on the Cow Parade website that they have a Flickr account. “Great!” I thought, “I’ll go add my photo to their Group Pool.”  No, their account doesn’t have a Group Pool so I can’t share anything with them. I can connect with them as a Contact, but that doesn’t do much for either of us.  This sort of wasted opportunity makes me crazy.

Understanding the Facebook ecosystem

Key things to remember about Facebook – most interaction happens on people’s News Feed, not directly on their Wall.

Even if someone has Liked your Page, they may never see any of your updates – it all has to do with the relative “weight”/importance of your content to other people, which is based on how much reaction it’s getting, who is connected to who, how often connected individuals and brands interact, how new the content is, etc. That’s called EdgeRank – here’s an EdgeRank explanation and some guidance.

Also remember that the default News feed that people see is Top News, and your content’s EdgeRank determines how often your stuff is seen in Top News.  Many don’t ever click Most Recent to see the unfiltered, chronological listing of updates from their connections.

The Most Recent feed is the default for mobile Facebook users, so that helps, but means that your content timing becomes critical or you’ll be swept away in the stream by the next 14 updates they’re looking at on that tiny mobile device screen.

Key takeaways? Craft engaging content that will bring Likes, Comments and Shares, use your smartphone to create content while you’re on the move, and post daily if you can (at different times, including outside of working hours – Jay Ehret found that his best time to post on Facebook was, yes, 11 am on Saturdays.)  Even more tips from Ohio tourism industry expert Betsy Decillis – Facebook Tips and Tricks.

Remember….

A few minutes of thought – a little extra research and digging – adds up in reach and impact.

All you’re doing is pausing to think, “Who else should know about this content, and what is the best way to get their attention?”

It’s the persistent, relentless mindset needed for winning a marathon. If you’re in the communications game for the long haul, you’ve got to play it that way.

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About Sheila

I'm a writer, speaker and consultant specializing in tourism, travel and social media. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. NHRA drag racing fan. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.
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5 Responses to No ordinary Facebook update: how to help content spread further online

  1. Katie Cook says:

    Hi Sheila,
    Great Facebook tips! Thanks for posting the cow sculpture photo to twitter and mentioning our @VisitAustinTX account. I loved the photo so I RTed it to our followers.

  2. Sheila says:

    Thanks, Katie – I think the next one will be “no ordinary check-in with Foursquare and Gowalla….”

  3. Pingback: Why are you on Facebook? Setting goals, taking it seriously | Sheila's Guide To The Good Stuff

  4. Lara Kulpa says:

    Fabulous! I think there’s definitely a need for more awareness on how to really use social media creatively in order to stand out from the crowd! Great post! :)

  5. Sheila says:

    Thanks, Lara. Also, congrats to you on the new community manager job with the BlogWorld conference – I know you must be having a blast! See you in November….

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