Small Business: Socially engaging Facebook posts

Developing a strategy for posting company news on Developing a strategy for posting company news on a social network, like Facebook, can make a difference to the bottom line. Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2011

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Jamie Herzlich Newsday columnist Jamie Herzlich

Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday. ...

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If you're in advertising and consulting and you're not posting on Facebook on weekends, then you may be missing your audience.

And if you're in clothing and fashion and you're not posting on Thursdays, you're giving up a great opportunity to interact with your customers.

These are just a few of the results highlighted in information recently released by Chicago-based LinchpinSEO, based on a study by Buddy Media that suggests the best days to post on Facebook by industry type.

"It can be confusing to understand when to post to get the best engagement and most value from each post," says Bill Ross, owner of LinchpinSEO, a digital interactive agency that also has a social media team in New York City.

Buddy Media, now part of San Francisco-based Salesforce Marketing Cloud, analyzed user engagement from more than 1,800 Facebook pages from the world's largest brands over a two-month period last spring. LinchpinSEO, which didn't collaborate with Buddy Media, created an infographic to highlight some key findings. See the graphic at bit.ly/Ww0tcd.

It spotlights the best days to post across 15 industries, including finance, automotive and food and beverage, taking into account "likes," comments, shares and more. For most industries, weekend posting presents a tremendous opportunity for high interaction, although it was being underutilized by brands.

Post at the end of the workweek. In general, "people have more free time" on weekends to catch up on their social media pages, says Joe Ciarallo, senior director of public relations at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. But brands weren't taking advantage of it, he notes.

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For instance, in the food and beverage industry, although interaction rates are 19 percent higher on weekends, only 18 percent of posts occur on Saturday and Sunday, according to the study.

There were some exceptions. For example, Mondays experience the highest interaction rates in the general retail industry, which are 19 percent above average, according to the study.

"These are guidelines," explains Ciarallo, noting brands should look at their own data and see what works for them.'

Be relevant. Nicole Castillo, executive vice president at WordHampton Public Relations in East Hampton, which manages the Facebook business pages of various clients, says she's found content drives user engagement.

One client, Rowdy Hall restaurant in East Hampton, had its greatest engagement last month on a Tuesday rather than a weekend, says Castillo. The restaurant's post featured a photo of French onion soup and a beer, and said, "Like this post if you could go for French onion soup and a beer at the bar."

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"Food pictures are very popular," says Christy Cober, director of operations for Honest Man Restaurants, which manages Rowdy Hall. So are active posts where the user's being asked to be engaged.

Timing also affects engagement. Posts published between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. get higher interaction than those published between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. when many people are working, according to the study. And brands posting one or two times daily see 19 percent higher interaction rates than those posting three or more times a day.

Devise a strategy. You need focus and a plan, says Bill Corbett, president of Corbett Public Relations in Floral Park, a consulting firm.

If you don't have staff or time to post on weekends, there are applications like HootSuite you can use to schedule posts, says Corbett, who posts every day.

Track your activity and figure out when your followers are engaging with your page, he says.

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"Most business people don't have a social media plan and waste a tremendous amount of time with little or no results," says Corbett.

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