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4 Ways to Write Engaging Updates on Facebook


engage your Facebook fans “How can I get more people to engage with my fan page?” It’s the first thing people ask me when they find out I wrote Facebook All-In-One For Dummies. But that question about engagement is a pretty big one and has many facets. It would take a few posts (or, you know, a book) to tackle every aspect. I can give you some advice to get you started, though.

Every platform has its own best practices. Twitter is great for sharing concise information and links. Your blog is great for sharing more in-depth philosophies and discussions. On Facebook, people move quickly. They constantly scan their News Feed or lists and only interact with the most attractive or easily accessible content. The updates you post to Facebook can make or break your community because without good updates, you get lost in the feed. The key is to share the right information to establish yourself as the authority in your niche. Your goal is to be the go-to Facebook Page for information related to your niche. To do that, you need to

  • solve a problem
  • educate your audience, or
  • entertain your audience.

That means your updates are going to be a mixture of things. I’m going to discuss four ways to increase your status update engagement:

  • Use strong calls to action (and provide the means to follow through)
  • Post photos and video
  • Ask questions
  • Extend an invitation

Give a Call to Action and Provide a Way to Follow Through

People skim Facebook and it’s likely they’ll skip interacting with your updates unless you tell them what you want from them. If you want fans to click a link, Like your update, or buy something, tell them. And then be sure they can follow through. For example, if you talk about your new product or sale, then ask your fans to buy something, be sure you link to the website page where they can do that. Or, if you want your fans to sign up for your newsletter, install an app on your Facebook Fan Page (so your fans can sign up right from Facebook), then link to that tab.

TIP: Each of your custom app tabs has its own URL. Using the newsletter example, if you have a newsletter sign up app on your Facebook fan page, it may be overlooked since few people visit your actual page after they’ve Liked it. To remind people to sign up for your newsletter, write a status update asking fans to sign up for your newsletter because you share important information or unveil products there first, then link to the newsletter sign up tab. That kind of status update does three things. It tells your fans

  • what to do (sign up for the newsletter)
  • why they should do it (you’re giving them privileged information), and
  • how to do it (click a link to the newsletter sign up app on your Facebook fan page)

Post More Photos and Video

Facebook is incredibly visual. Anything that is eye-catching (e.g. photos or video) trumps text because it’s easily digestible. Keep in mind, too, that when people are visiting Facebook, they don’t want to leave — they want everything right there at their fingertips. Clicking on a text link may take them away from Facebook, but clicking on a photo or video doesn’t interrupt the overall flow of browsing information.

TIP: Facebook updates with photo or video are 5 times more engaging than link updates, but what do you see in your News Feed? Text. That’s because typing is the easiest way to update. Instead of typing your next update, take a little time and create more engaging content that resonates with your core audience by sharing a photo or asking a question via video.

Ask Questions

Asking questions is the go-to solution for encouraging engagement. Ask anyone how you can garner more engagement on Facebook and they’ll tell you to ask more questions. The problem is that you can’t ask just any kind of question. Some questions work better than others and how you ask a question is important. Remember that Facebook isn’t the place for philosophical discussion. It moves fast and people are ready to move in and out. Instead of asking questions that include “why” or “how do you feel about” ask questions that fans can answer quickly — yes/no, either/or, or use the Facebook Question feature to create a quick poll. As people respond, be sure you’re part of the discussion. As the discussion gets going, you can ask more in-depth questions within the comments. If you want your fans to engage with you, you have to be present and visible.

TIP: For text updates like questions, shorter is better. Keep updates to about 80 characters. Buddy Press did a study that showed shorter Facebook updates perform 66% better than longer updates.

Extend an Invitation

As a community manager you have to see your fans as more than a Like or a number; you have to view them as your community and take a real interest in what they’re doing. When you do, you’ll see your engagement increase.

Extending an invitation to my readers is my favorite way to encourage engagement. I ask people to share their links in the comments. My goals when I do this are to help drive traffic to my fans’ sites, introduce my fans to each other, and introduce them to new sites. It takes some time on my part because I really do go through everyone’s links and follow them or comment on a blog post, but the result is that I have a stronger bond with my readers. They feel like I’m available to them and interested in what they’re doing — and I am. I usually ask my readers to share their own links, but sometimes I ask them if they’ve read anything by someone else they can share. That opens a whole new window of opportunity.

TIP: Not sure what to invite your fans to share? You can ask your readers to share links to their:

  • Pinterest boards
  • G+ accounts
  • Twitter profiles
  • Blog
  • Facebook fan page
  • Most popular post of the month on their blog

At the beginning of the year I asked my fans what their goals or resolutions were for their blogs, then in July I revisited that topic and asked how they were coming along.

Regardless of how you update, my best advice to you is don’t set it and forget it. Don’t automate all of your posts. Take the time every day to interact with your fans and share things with them. Respond to their questions and comments; invite them to engage. Be a part of the community you’re creating.

Do you have advice about how to encourage engagement on your Facebook fan page? Please share with us in the comments.


  • piscesvirgo

    Thank you for this list of tips!

    • Melanie Nelson

       @piscesvirgo Thank you for reading! If you try a few of these options out, let us know how they work for you!

  • CiaoMom

    Great tips–I love the idea of inviting people to share things from pinterest or other places….

    • Melanie Nelson

       @CiaoMom Thanks for commenting. I’ve found that people absolutely LOVE to share about themselves and it’s a great way to help them feel like part of the community.

  • WordsDoneWrite

    I really love these tips, Melanie! Thanks so much for sharing them with us. I can’t wait to read your book on Facebook! 

  • momcommblog

    Great tips, Melanie! I knew shorter was better but 80 characters? I need to tone it down- haha.

    • Melanie Nelson

       @momcommblog I was surprised at the 80-character suggestion as well! But if you think about it, our brains only want to do one thing at a time. Looking at a picture and reading text are two different tasks. I think the idea is to make your picture pack such a wallop that you don’t need  a lot of text to explain it. If you’re not using pictures, a shorter update is more scannable and is less likely to be skimmed over. It may sound counter-intuitive, but most people won’t take the time to read the longer updates and interact with them.

  • Amanda Padgett

    Great post, Melanie!!! Your advice for FB has always been spot on for me! Thank you for sharing your insights with us.

  • DavidCordeiro

    Any thoughts on how to better use the Facebook Page Event feature?  Originally, I believe FB allowed you to update page fans but now it only allows me to invite after I have “joined” the event from my personal account and then only my personal friends are available to extend the invitation.

    • Melanie Nelson

       @DavidCordeiro Thanks for stopping by and commenting! The Event feature is one of those apps that people either love or hate, and it’s gone through some changes. I just tested it out and it looks like you’re right. You can create an Event via your Page, but then you have to join your own Event and you can only invite your personal friends (and allow them to invite others to widen your network). I suspect this is an effort to minimize Page spam. Not everyone understands (or abides by) the etiquette of online communities. Some Page admins may think creating an Event, then inviting all of their fans is a great way to market. As you can imagine, the possibility for spam is high in those instances. However, what you can do to get around the issue you bring up is create a Group for your core fans (in this case, since I know David, I’m thinking he may need and Event for Math Circle and it has some core members). Then you can create an Event and invite those Group members. Is it ideal? No. And it’s a little redundant to have both a Page and a Group community, but depending on how important it is to have Event pages, you may want to consider it.

  • Carol Tang

    Thanks for sharing these tips, Melanie!
    Marketo has been using memes on our Facebook page and it has driven amazing engagement with our audience. Entertainment and visuals definitely do play a key role in catching the attention of an individual who is scanning his/her news feed.
    One more thing to add to your great list: leverage holidays, monthly celebrations, hot topics, etc. Hot topics are grouped together at the top of the news feed, and companies can easily leverage that free exposure by tying in their marketing with relevant topics.
    – Carol Tang at Marketo

  • hiuhime

    So many good ideas for interacting with your community! I agree with large, shiny images, videos, and quick call to actions to engage an audience. I work for a digital strategy agency and sometimes find it difficult implementing thought leadership into Facebook posts. Posts about our office culture and events get lots of traffic, however posts with industry insights attract little attention. I think this might be due to our FB audience (more friends and fellow agencies). If you have any suggestions on why this might be, I’d appreciate it. 

    • Melanie Nelson

       @hiuhime This issue could be due to a few things. As you said, knowing who your audience is and what they want from you is key. Have you asked them what content they want to see more of? It may be that they’re engaging with the office culture content b/c it’s easily done from the News Feed. And they may be interacting with your industry insights in a different way. If you’re providing links that take them away from Facebook, it’s important to remember that it’s unlikely they’ll return to your FB update to discuss. Instead, they’ve moved on to read the information and possibly interact with it there. You can check your Insights to see what your click-through rate is on the links you’re sharing. Another thing to try is, if you’re sharing industry news or links, be sure to include context. Tell your audience why this information is important and apply it to their business, then ask them to weigh in. You may want to do a blog post about the issue, then write a shorter FB update that points to it (with a compelling reason to click over). Whew! That was a lot! Once I start talking about this stuff, sometimes I can’t stop! 😉

      • Meagan

        Thank you so much for the suggestions, I’ve actually employed a few of them, esp. giving context to articles and analyzing click-thru rates. It has not only been helpful to me from a tracking perspective, but it also is useful to present my monthly report of our social reach and interactions. So, yes, thank you!

  • HerbalGroups

    I love these ideas. We’ve taken an active approach with our social interactions and I will definitely be using all of these ideas to engage our fans and followers. 

  • lisabuben290

    Great tips especially using visuals. I like the idea of sharing links in comments. Good idea! 

    • Melanie Nelson

       @lisabuben290 Thank you, Lisa. Sharing links is one of my favorite ways to get to know my community better. After visiting their links, I have something to attach to them and I can recognize them more readily. Plus, it’s really helpful to know *who* my audience is and *what* they are doing (and therefore interested in). That helps me focus my content even more.

  • Michael

    Hi Melanie,

    Thanks for sharing the tips. If only many businesses can read your post especially about ask questions. I have seen too many businesses started the question but didn’t follow through properly. I wanted to read more about Buddy Press study but when click on the the link I was shown 404 not found error.

    Is it my problem?


    • Amber Avines

      Michael, the link worked when this post first went up. Maybe they’re having a problem with their site.

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