Let’s face it: successful Facebook marketing is hard.
With an ever-growing number of publishers out there competing for a finite amount of attention, you need all the help you can get to stand out from the noise and get your message through.
One of the most important things you can do to achieve your Facebook marketing goals is completely optimize every Facebook post you make.
This guide covers the three main types of Facebook posts (links, images, and videos) in detail and how to optimize them so you get the most bang for your buck from every update you make.
A quick disclaimer: Facebook changes at the speed of light and updates get rolled out to different users at different times. I’ve done my best to provide the most current information and will periodically update this post as things change. So, if you do notice something that’s been changed, please let me know in the comments.
Link posts are just what they sound like; any posts that link to web content.
When you copy and paste a URL (webpage address) into Facebook posts, you’ll get a popup box with options. I’ve broken down all those options in the image and text below:
1. Post Text
How much to say:
There’s no true optimal amount of text, but it never hurts to take some advice that has stood the test of time.
William Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” This is great advice for crafting the text for your Facebook updates. Short, clever bits of text in your post can pack a lot of punch when done well.
People scrolling through a Facebook feed aren’t usually looking to dive into super long status updates, especially from businesses. They want to know what they’re getting into and they want to know quickly. And if you can add a little personality and wit, even better!
Granted, there are times when lengthy amounts of text are appropriate for a post. In these situations, however, be mindful of when the “…See More” hyperlink is going to kick in, typically a little less than 500 characters with spaces.
For these longer posts, make absolutely sure your most important info will be seen without having to click to “See More,” because, really, a decent percentage of your fans won’t.
What to say:
The job of the post text is to entice people to read the article and engage with the post. Ask a probing question that the linked content will answer. Give a brief overview of what it contains with an intriguing description. Ask people what their opinions are. Any of these will increase the likelihood of someone commenting on the post.
Make it a point to use keywords in your post text. Facebook’s algorithm is designed to serve up posts that are relevant to users. Using relevant keywords lets Facebook know that your posts are, well, relevant to your fans.
Remember, linking to an article should always be about providing value to your fans. If you’ve truly done that, either by linking to your own awesome content or someone else’s you’ve curated, engagement is sure to follow in the form of link clicks (yes, those totally count as engagement), likes, comments, and shares.
This engagement will boost organic reach and lead to more of your fans seeing the post, getting value, and ultimately engaging themselves. For an in-depth look at the Facebook algorithm and how quality content will increase your organic reach, check out this great post from Scott Ayers on the Post Planner blog.
It’s a not-so-vicious circle that sometimes even leads to a post going viral!
2. Link Image
This is the image that will go along with your link post. Having a good visual representation of the content is crucial when sharing on Facebook. You’ll need to draw the eye to stand out from the noise and get your posts noticed.
These will be displayed as an image 470 pixels wide and 246 pixels high, a 235:123 ratio (because, you know, Facebook likes to make things simple).
If an image is less than 470 pixels wide, it will be displayed as a small thumbnail next to the article description. We’re going to attempt to avoid that if at all possible.
I recommend making the feature image for your posts this ratio so when others share to Facebook, they’ll automatically have an option to share it with perfectly sized image.
You can certainly make your feature image bigger than 470 pixels wide, just keep the 235:123 ratio. This free aspect ratio calculator will give you the exact dimensions you need to keep that ratio.
When posting a link, Facebook will autopopulate an image or images from the webpage you’re linking to, assuming there’s an image on the page. These often leave something to be desired.
The good news is you have control over what appears if you don’t like the image Facebook chose for you.
The available images for the post will be displayed at the bottom of the pop up box. They look like this:
You can choose any of the images listed, or click the last box with the + to upload a new image from your computer.
A note on curated link posts (posts that link to other people’s sites). If you’re linking to your own content, you should definitely have at least one relevant image that will fit these dimensions all nice and neat. There’s no excuse not to. Unfortunately, when posting others’ content, you may not find that to be the case.
Let’s review one such instance I ran into lately, and a simple way to get a quality image when none were provided automatically.
I found an article I wanted to share that highlighted a Bloomingdale’s apology for running an ad that’s hard to construe as anything but tacitly endorsing date rape (well done, Bloomingdale’s, by the way).
Unfortunately, when I copied the URL of the post into a status update, the image populated was a generic Bloomingdale’s sign, not the offensive ad in question. To further complicate things, the pictures of the ad in the post were part of embedded Tweets, and so Facebook wasn’t recognizing them as available images for the post.
Bummer, right?! Well, not so fast. Jing to the rescue! If you’re not familiar with it, Jing is an awesome tool that allows you to quickly and easily screen shot and save images. You can download Jing for free here.
Once you download and open Jing, you’ll have a yellow half circle at the top of your screen, like so:
Hover over the half circle and it will expand and give you options. Choose the cross hairs icon on the left to capture a screen shot:
Now we’ll use the Jing tool to crop out the exact image we want. Jing even gives you the pixel dimensions as you crop so you can automatically grab the perfect 470 px by 246 px we talked about earlier.
Quick tip: if you’ve found an image on the page, but it’s not at least 470 pixels wide, try zooming in your browser to enlarge the image and then screenshot it. Zooming may cause you to lose too much quality to use it, but it’s worth a try if you’re in a pinch.
Keeping with our Bloomingdale’s example, let’s grab the screenshot of the actual ad we want to use as the post image:
Perfect. Now we’ll save this image to our computer and choose the option to upload our own image to the Facebook post.
Check out the difference in the posts:
Imagine scrolling though your News Feed. The post on the left has a cut off sign of Bloomingdale’s and will probably get skimmed over more often than not.
On the other hand, anyone who pauses to glance at the image in the post on the right is probably going to be taken aback and be bit by the curiosity bug.
It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to make this change, and it could make a huge difference in engagement rates!
3. Headline and Link Description
Just like the link image, Facebook will populate these fields with text from the webpage. But if you don’t like what it populates, you can change it. Simply click on either of the fields to adjust or replace the text.
Quick tip: when you’re posting a link, the link description is often a great intro into what the article is about. In fact, it’s often so good you may want to use it as the main text post and replace the link description with some other appropriate text from the article.
Let’s take a look at how we might rearrange some things using our post, Facebook’s Not-So-Hidden Content Curation Feature.
Again, when we enter a URL into a status update, this is what Facebook gives us to work with:
Notice that the title automatically populated the vertical line followed by “Lab3 Marketing.” Let’s lose that and keep the title all on one line.
I also like that link description (that I wrote) so much that I’d like to use that as the post text. But I don’t want to repeat it in the link description, so let’s adjust both of those.
To change, simply click anywhere on the words. When you hover the cursor over the words, they turn yellow. Click on them and it brings them up in a box you can edit. Like this:
Now we’ll delete the “| Lab3 Marketing” from the title, copy and paste the link description into the post text, and replace the description with the some (slightly modified) text from the blog post.
And, presto chango, the finished product will look like this:
Easy peasy, and it looks much better; right?! Right.
Visual content is, not to put too fine a point on it, a must in your Facebook marketing strategy. Posts that include images produce 650 percent higher engagement than text-only posts (source).
And good news for you and your marketing budget: you don’t have to break the bank to create powerful visual content. Free tools like Canva and Buffer’s Pablo make it easy for just about anyone to make visually appealing images.
So let’s talk about some best practices when it comes to posting images on Facebook.
Single Image Dimensions
Depending on the size and orientation of your images, they’ll appear differently so it’s important to know how Facebook handles image posts.
Images can be oriented as square, portrait, or landscape. Images in the Facebook News Feed have a maximum width and height of 470 pixels. Therefore, to take advantage of the maximum amount of space in the News Feed, you’d create a square image at least 470 pixels wide.
Portrait images will be condensed to 470 pixels tall, justified to the left and will leave white space to the right – how much will be determined by the image height to width ratio. Landscape images will be scaled to, you guessed it, 470 pixels wide and the height will also depend on the image ratio.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
Multiple Image Dimensions
Facebook also allows you to create posts with more than one image.
For posts with more than two images, how you order them will dictate how they appear in the post. For example, if the dominant image (which is the one you upload first) is a portrait, that will appear to the left and the other pictures will be cropped as squares to the right.
Likewise, if the dominant image is landscape, the rest of the images will be cropped as squares and appear underneath.
To illustrate, below are examples with dimensions of how posts with four images will appear in both portrait and landscape dominant posts.
4 Images – Portrait Dominant:
4 Images – Landscape Dominant:
Image File Type
The two most common image types for the web are .jpeg and .png. When you’re creating images, I recommend you always choose to save them with the .png option.
If you look closely at the images below, you can see that the .png image is sharper and less pixelated than the .jpeg image. It’s a subtle but definitely noticeable difference.
Video and Facebook go together like wine and more wine, at least that’s what Facebook is hoping for. As such, there are some great opportunities with Facebook native video (video uploaded directly to Facebook vs. linking to a video on another site like YouTube.com).
It makes sense. Native video keeps users on the site, so instead of getting lost down the YouTube wormhole after clicking over to watch a video, you’ll stay in the Facebook wormhole.
As a part of their push for more video on the site, Facebook is heavily promoting native video and this is a real opportunity for businesses. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that organic reach is higher for native video posts and paid promotion of native video posts will be less expensive compared to other post types.
The real issue is how to capitalize on this increased exposure since people won’t be leaving Facebook to watch your videos.
First, always concentrate on creating valuable content that boosts brand awareness and social engagement. If you’re consistently serving up great info in your videos, people will remember, like your page, check out your other content (including on your site), etc.
Second, make sure you’re taking advantage of the opportunities Facebook gives you to drive traffic to your own properties in the post text and the Call-to-Action feature.
Let’s take a look at all the steps that go into posting a native video to Facebook:
1. “Say something about this video…”
This is the text portion of the status update (the words that appear above the video).
As you can see, we’ve put a brief description of the video and a link to an accompanying blog post. As much as Facebook wants users to stay on the site, again, your goal should be to get them off and onto a property you own, namely your website.
2. “Add a Custom Thumbnail”
As you can see from the uploading video screenshot, the default thumbnail image leaves something to be desired. Since it just grabs a random image from somewhere in your video, chances are the default thumbnail is never really going to be up to par. Make your own and make it pretty.
On both mobile and desktop, the video autoplays in the Newsfeed so you won’t see this custom thumbnail before the video.
On desktop, you won’t ever see this thumbnail in the actual post itself.
However, when the video stops playing on mobile, your call to action button (which we’ll get to in a second) will appear over this custom thumbnail.
More importantly, the custom thumbnail will appear on desktop in the videos section of the left sidebar on your Page and for all of your archived videos in the videos tab, which is the hub for all your Facebook videos.
3. “Video Title”
Okay, so not all of this is rocket science. This is simply the place to enter the name of your video. Title it something descriptive and enticing for the user.
4. “Video Category”
Again, pretty simple. Pick the most appropriate category for your video. As of this writing there are not a lot of choices, but pick the one matching closest to the content of your video.
5. “Call to Action”
Again, you’ll typically want to get people off of Facebook and on to your own site, so this one is important. If you’ve done a great job of providing value to the viewers, they make it to the end of the video and are still craving more of your content, this is the place to make that happen.
After the video ends, as you can see in screenshots of the Custom Thumbnail section above, Facebook provides a clickable link. This section is a drop down menu of different calls to action you can choose. Since this video will be linking to a complementary blog post, I choose the “Learn More” call to action.
Alternatively, if your video is demonstrating an awesome offer of some downloadable content, you’d choose the “Download Now” CTA. As with the video category, the options are somewhat limited, but choose the best for your situation.
6. “Call to Action Details”
Okay, so as far as I can tell, this information doesn’t appear anywhere on native video post, at least not right now. But again, Facebook is constantly updating and changing. So go ahead and enter this info in as it may very well be showing up soon (or already, depending on when you read this). These details may also have an effect on Facebook’s News Feed algorithm in terms of serving the most relevant content to particular users.
Regardless, it’s there (presumably for a reason) so I recommend filling it out completely and leaving nothing to chance.
Standing out from the noise of Facebook can be a challenge for businesses.
This guide provided the basic knowledge you need to fully optimize your posts within the parameters set forth by Facebook.
Now it’s up to you to take this knowledge and apply it in your own unique way.
Post some links to valuable content using enticing words and images to catch people’s attention and get them to click. Get creative with image posts and how to use the different layouts with multiple images for increased engagement with your brand. Create some killer video content and make sure it’s getting seen by optimizing the post with all pertinent information and creating an eye-catching custom thumbnail.
Now that you’re armed with the know-how to make the most out of every post, get out there and kick some Facebook marketing butt!Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community