Facebook has recently enabled the ability for scheduling posts on Facebook Pages, a feature that previously was only possible via third party applications such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer and a host of others. However, scheduling posts using these third party applications came at a price for the convenience, as Facebook would downgrade the EdgeRank of any posts via third parties. This is not the case with posts scheduled from within Facebook, so I would encourage businesses to use this feature as it is likely to result in more strategic posts, increased productivity and therefore better results for your business (if done correctly).
Here are eight tips to ensure you use the Facebook post scheduling feature to maximum effect:
1. Set Your Founded Date
You are unable to schedule a post on a Page until you have set your Founded Date for your business, so if you haven’t already done this, go back through your company records and find out when your business was first established and create a Milestone post around that date. It is best to create this with an image that best reflects your business at that time, with dimensions of 843×403 pixels (milestone images size) for maximum effect. See Latest Image Sizes For Facebook Business Pages for more information on optimal image sizes. Setting a Founded Date immediately creates a story that appears in the newsfeed of your Fans, so that takes care of your post for that day and you can start planning on future posts immediately.
Set up content feeds to assist you in sourcing content to post on your Facebook Business Page. This can be done within Facebook via your personal and/or Page newsfeed and/or any Interest Lists that you have set up and/or have subscribed to in your niche. See 8 Reasons Why Liking Other Pages As Your Page Rather Than As Your Profile Is A Good Strategy for tips on setting up your Page newsfeed. Don’t forget to set up content sources outside of Facebook also to ensure that you are bringing fresh content to your audience. Other social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest can assist you with this, as well as any blogs you may follow or e-mails you may subscribe to.
You need to plan to plan. Creating engaging Facebook posts do take time and spare time is something most people don’t have these days. So make time in advance by scheduling time in your diary to source and create content for sharing via Facebook and any other social media platforms that you use. For example, Friday afternoon or first thing Monday morning may be ideal times to plan and schedule posts for the week ahead. Scheduling up to a week in advance is probably sufficient, as you need to ensure that the content you share remains fresh. If you schedule any further in advance than that there is a greater chance that your audience have already seen the content you are sharing, decreasing their likelihood to engage in your Post.
You can determine what date and time to schedule posts, so schedule for the days and times that you know (or assume) that your audience is more likely to be on Facebook. If you are unaware, early morning and evenings have been widely reported as Facebook’s highest usage times. However, you should experiment to work out what works best for your audience based on your Facebook Insights.
To save time, it is best to plan and schedule posts at the same time if possible. Scheduling a post is as simple as writing your post as normal, including any images, videos and/or links as appropriate and then clicking on the clock in the bottom left of of the status window to enable a year, month, day, hour and minute to be selected. It should be noted that you need to commence the status prior to the clock appearing and you cannot schedule a post for less than 10minutes into the future.
5. Activity Log
Once you schedule a post it can be viewed and edited from within your Activity Log. You can access your Activity Log from within your Admin Panel. Click on “Edit Page” and then select “Use Activity Log” to see and edit (if necessary) all of your Scheduled Posts. They will appear at the top of your Activity Log, above all of the posts that you have already made.
From here, by selecting the arrow to the right of each Scheduled Post, you have the option to:
- Change Time;
- Publish Now; or
- Cancel Post
This is a handy feature should circumstances change and your post is no longer appropriate for the time slot you have selected.
4. Leave Room For Spontaneity
Don’t overplan. You need to leave room in your schedule to be able to post something that comes up at the last minute that is a “must share” with your community. If you prefer to schedule the week in advance, be prepared to go back to your Activity Log and re-arrange posts to make room for any additional content you source and share.
5. Target Your Audience
Facebook allows you to target your audience by Location/Language. This is an excellent feature for posting for particular timezones. You may choose to post similar versions of posts at different times targeted to different audiences based on Location. For example, you may send a special Gong Xi Fa Cai for Chinese New Year only to those Fans in China or you may schedule several Happy New Year posts with different landmarks at the strike of midnight for different timezones.
This feature enables you to speak more intimately with Fans from different locations/languages and can also be great if you have different products and/or services that are only available in certain regions, as the post will only appear in the location selected.
6. Don’t Set And Forget
You would never start a conversation with someone and then immediately leave the room, therefore you should never do this on-line either. To avoid this scenario you should take note of the dates and times when you have scheduled posts to go live and make sure that you check back into Facebook in a timely manner for each of those posts to ensure that you engage with your Fans around any comments they may make regarding your posts. Facebook Pages Manager App For iPhone is a great tool for alerting you when people are conversing on your Page. Alternatives are Facebook e-mail notifications if you are not a Facebook regular or Facebook Page notifications if you are regularly within the Facebook platform on a daily basis regardless of whether or not you are scheduling posts. There are many other third party applications that can assist you in monitoring the activity on your Facebook Page by alerting you via e-mail, such as NutshellMail and HyperAlerts.
7. Mix It Up
Mix up the types of posts (photos, videos, links, text), time of day and frequency of your posts. Obviously, the basic rules of providing an engaging status update still apply. Some things to consider include:
- Engage (don’t broadcast) your fans with quality content – be useful, adding value with every post;
- Include images wherever possible – generally speaking, photos create the highest level of engagement;
- Ask simple questions (e.g. Accompany an image of a new product range with the question “Do you prefer the black or white?”);
- Be succinct – try to keep your posts short enough so that your Fans don’t have to click “read more” as they probably won’t; and
- Include calls to action and use action words – tell your fans what you want them to do (e.g. click “Like” if you agree).
Most importantly, be social first and keep your sales messages as secondary. A good rule of thumb is 80/20. That’s 80% connection posts where you are connecting and engaging with your audience and 20% sales messages.
8. Learn From Your Insights
Visit your insights regularly to see which posts are creating the greatest reach and virality and try to replicate the factors that contributed to receiving that level of engagement. This is a great way to find our what resinates best with your audience, including the best days and times of day to create greatest engagement.
Facebook also provides some of these insights on your Timeline itself so you can see what is happening in real time without having to enter insights. Under each post you can see the number of people your post reached, as well as the percentage of your Fans. Due to Facebook’s EdgeRank, on average only 16% of your Fans will see your posts. You should set this as your benchmark and try to exceed this each time you post by creating engaging posts.
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Have you scheduled any posts as yet? If so, what tips would you give to other Page Admins regarding this feature?