It’s a mental shift for online communicators: don’t think about Facebook content as content, think of each piece as an action. I.e., a Facebook post isn’t really words or images, it’s a Share — it’s an action that someone took when they posted it. And instead of promoting CONTENT on Facebook, we should think about promoting actions.
Here’s an example of what I’m getting at. Through the consulting biz, I’ve been working with a small immigration-related group for the last couple of months. This week, for the first time since I’ve been in the loop with them, they had a piece of Facebook-worthy visual content, in this case an infographic illustrating their key issue (the imprisonment of immigrants while they wait for a hearing on their status). In the past, the organization’s staff would have put the infographic on their website and shared the link to that page on Facebook. And as anyone who’s been using Facebook regularly for advocacy communications knows, text/link posts simply don’t get much visibility these days, meaning that their new infographic would have dropped out of sight quickly.
Instead, this time (at my urging) they employed a different strategy. First, they shared the infographic as an Image post on Facebook, taking advantage of the fact that Facebook spreads visual content much farther these days than any other type (note that we included a link back to their website’s infographic page in the text description that accompanied the image, so the link was still present). Most importantly, the client reached out to partner organizations directly and specifically to ask them to Share that Image post, being careful to pass along a link to that specific post. In effect, they promoted the Sharing of a Share.
The results? Instead of the normal handful of Likes their content normally gets on Facebook, they had over 200 Shares of the infographic in the first hour alone, and hundreds more since. Success! Their issues got far more exposure than they’d ever seen before, and I think they were a little stunned at the results. Woo hoo!
Of course, this isn’t a novel approach, since I’ve seen folks from sites/services like Upworthy and Crowdtangle talk about tactics like this regularly at events like Netroots Nation. And, we saw success at my old job (NWLC) using very similar processes. But it’s heartening to take the idea of promoting the Sharing of a Share to a new venue and see it actually work. So let’s readjust our Facebook thinking just a little — content isn’t just content, it’s also an action. That paradigm shift will help you take advantage of how Facebook’s algorithm is currently choosing which content to show people. Until, of course, Zuckerberg changes its emphasis again….