Sorry, Mashable, YOU’RE Doing Facebook Wrong

Mashable published an article the other day that induced convulsions, tirades, rants and migraines. The title:

Sorry, Marketers, You’re Doing Facebook Wrong

Okay, Mashable. I’m doing it wrong. Quite the attitude you have there. Please explain.

If you’re looking to take a day off from posting on Facebook, choose Wednesday, but don’t rest on Sunday or you’ll miss the best opportunity of the week.

That’s the advice from Buddy Media’s “Strategies for Effective Wall Posts: A Timeline Analysis,” a report based on activity from 1,800 of the world’s biggest brand pages from April 1 to May 31.

Oh, boy, here we go. Another one-size-fits-all generic template to make us all post at the same time with the same, tired techniques.

I give Buddy Media a pass here. They created a report that includes the massive amount of data they have to show how massive and awesome they are. When you have all of that data, you might as well do some crazy stuff with it.

But Mashable takes it far too literally. The thing about these studies that we all need to remember is that they are averages. They mash up every industry, every sized brand, every location into one report. The end results may make for an interesting read, but they don’t necessarily mean anything to your brand.

Here are some of my favorite tidbits that made me want to squeeze out my eyeballs…

1. “Off-hours are the best time to post”

Mari Smith Long Facebook Post
According to Mashable and Buddy Media, don’t write long, awesome posts like Mari Smith
Post between 8pm and 7am, you say? Okay…

Wait, between 8pm and 7am in what time zone? Eastern? Mountain? Central? Something else?

Only half of my Facebook Fans are in the US. I have just about every time zone represented.

So tell me, what would you consider “off-hours?”

Exactly, you can’t. It’s why I schedule two posts per day — one that happens in the early morning and one that happens late at night (my time). I’m constantly shifting those times to reach as many people as I can.

There is no true “best time to post.” What works for you may not work for me.

But let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that everyone in the world agreed that they’d like to see your cat pictures between 8pm and 7am EST. It becomes public knowledge that this is the time to post.

You know what happens when everyone posts at the same time? It’s no longer the best time to post.

2. “Less is more”

Buddy Media (and Mashable) suggests limiting your posts to 80 characters. I’ve seen that number before. It’s close to impossible.

Are you familiar with Mari Smith? Yeah, she’s kind of a big deal in Facebook Marketing. She’s notorious for her long posts. One of her posts that has received 90 shares, 185 Likes and 122 comments (so far) is taking up pretty much the entire right side of this blog post.

Wanna know how many characters that is? 2,084. I pasted it into Word and it went to two pages. Just a shade over 80 characters.

Mari is successful because she’s not only knowledgable, but people like her. She has a unique, conversational voice. Mari would lose much of what makes her who she is if she limited her posts to 80 characters.

This horrible, say-nothing, soul-less, boring sentence is what 80 characters loo

looks like! Come on, let me finish my sentence!

Here’s the funny thing: They also suggest you use questions and calls to action. In 80 characters.

Do you know how hard it is to post anything of substance with a call to action and/or a question and keep it under 80 characters? It’s pretty freaking difficult.

Your first focus should be on your voice. Have personality. Have a soul!

3. “Ask Fans to caption a picture”

Oh, yeah? Should I also make sure it’s a picture of a cat?

Seriously, are Mashable and Buddy Media just looking to highlight all of the types of posts I hate?

“Caption This” does not fit my personality. It does not fit my brand. I will not do it just to get more engagement.

4. “Fill in the blank is another good option”

Oh, sure it is. If I want to hate myself.

Fill in the blank. When I read fill-in-the-blank posts, I want to ___________________.

This works for some people. But if it’s not you, don’t force it.

5. “Use emoticons”

Are you freaking kidding me? It just keeps getting worse…

Apparently, posts with emoticons receive 52% more engagement. You know what kind of engagement that is? Probably a bunch of people telling them to stop using emoticons.

Next thing, you’ll probably actually suggest which types of emoticons I should use. :[< (that's a frowning dude with a handlebar mustache)

6. “The best emoticons to use: ‘:D’ and ‘:P.'”


In Conclusion

Again, these kinds of reports are sometimes a “nice to know” type of thing. They are kind of fun for entertainment value.

But please… Please don’t be a cookie-cutter marketer.

You should absolutely post with a purpose in mind. Think about the goals of your post. Think about what will get your audience to notice and participate in that post. But do it without losing yourself and looking or sounding like everybody else.

Could you imagine a Facebook where every Page was posting at the same time, asking questions with a call to action, using fill-in-the-blank and “caption this” with emoticons?

I don’t want to be part of that Facebook.

Caption this! When you’re done, fill in the blank. “Why do I _______?” :P

  • Mike Straus

    Mashable must have been light on content that days…isn’t this Buddy Media report a few months old? Either way it makes some points that I think CAN and DO work for SOME and others I also think are horrible (mostly emoticons though maybe it does work for some people).

    I think the key takeaway is there is no “one size fits all” for Facebook. Different businesses and fan bases respond differently. A blogger or services company had different needs on Facebook then a restaurant which is different then a e-commerce site, which is different then a big brand/product. Size of business and audience make a difference as well. I suspect Buddy Medias data tends towards larger brands and businesses so the report is skewed to them.

    I think some of the suggestions work well for some businesses, while for others they may not work. I know I have seen some of these used (such as fill in the blank or a short simple status update) with great success.

    I think this goes back to trying things, paying attention to Insights, and learning as you go!

  • Amy Fisher

    You forgot “CLICK LIKE” or “SHARE IF YOU AGREE”. :P

    • Jon Loomer

      Hah! Yeah, Amy. Overall, there are a lot of tactics that “work,” but I hate doing anything that feels forced or unnatural. That’s why I’m also a terrible salesperson, but the point is that you need to create your own voice and style. If you copy someone else’s techniques, you lose that.

      I think Mari Smith is a great example of this. She’s not playing by those rules. She breaks them. Yet she’s more followed than anyone.

  • Nad’ T.

    Excellent post! He he he I totally agree. There is no secret recipe to Facebook marketing. This post is a breath of fresh air.

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks so much, Nad’T!

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  • Vardis Vavoulakis

    What I agree most in your post is: ” I will not do it just to get more engagement.” I hate brands that use any kind of cat/bad cartoon/”Share if you like” posts just to increase their engagement. One has to wonder how useful and/or fruitful is this kind of engagement for a brand. I don’t want my clients to have 20% engagement rate if it is all about cats, bad jokes and awful quotes; I prefer them having 2% engagement rate on product- or service-related and brand enhancing posts.

    • Jon Loomer

      Agreed, Vardis. I admit there’s some value to this report. It at least gives us an idea of what types of techniques generate response. That should be used as INSPIRATION not DUPLICATION.

      And I’m with you. I’m tired of seeing all of the same cat photos and whatnot with a clear and transparent intent.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Laci Lewis

    “Oh, boy, here we go. Another one-size-fits-all generic template to make us all post at the same time with the same, tired techniques.” – I love this line that followed the “correct” times to post – one of our brands consists of Agricultural equipment – farmers (depending on the time of year and their strategies) might not be in their homes until 10 p.m. or later and they sure aren’t in an office consistently from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. on a computer or other device.

    To engage with those country folks, I could just post lots of funny pictures of farm animals and a pretty Nebraska sunset every day but, as you said, “I will not do it just to get more engagement”.

    Thanks for this post Jon, truly enjoyed it! :D

    • Jon Loomer

      You’ve got it, Laci! There is no right and wrong on this stuff, and you can’t be obsessed with it. Last night I had ridiculous engagement after midnight. Should I focus on that time? This morning, I didn’t get much engagement at 7:00 am. Should I avoid it?

      Funny thing… I’m thinking it has a LOT to do with whether the content resonated with people. And it also may have had to do with people being available/online, but that is not fixed!

      Thanks, Laci!

  • Melanie Kissell

    Two thumbs up and a tip of my cat’s hat on this one, Jon! (Actually, I’m a dog owner and I hated reading the other day that the #1 type of video viewed on You Tube is … you guessed it … goofy ‘cat’ videos. No offense to cat owners)

    Back to the topic of Facebook …

    I really, really, really (is that enough reallys?) don’t care for those FB threads where everyone is just posting a link to their whatever (by invitation from a kind and generous soul, of course, who may or may not give a rip about you or your biz). What’s the doggone purpose? So that others can get to know you?! So you can share your awesomeness?! Read my lips, please — it’s pointless. Seems to me no one is looking at anyone else’s stuff. Dumb. Dumb idea. It might be okay in a private group setting but elsewhere? Nope.

    This is my first visit to your blog, Jon, thanks to Brooke Ballard of B Squared Media. I hope she’ll forgive me for dropping in to vent. But your post touched a super sensitive chord with me and I’m shocked Mashable published such RUBBISH. Shame on them!

    Gotta come back and glean some more of this good stuff. :)

    • Jon Loomer

      HAH! Thanks so much, Melanie! Glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels this way. We often try to oversimplify things. In the process, facts are lost in the wash.

      Glad you stopped by and hope to see you again soon!

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  • SunSocial Marketing

    Great post! No one could ever possibly keep up with all the “studies show” rules out there. It’s important to look at what works for your niche industry or small business genre but even more important to cater to what your unique fans and followers want – especially the ones most engaged with you already.