When it comes to your Facebook posts, shares appear to be significantly more important than either likes or comments when it comes to increasing your reach and audience.
Have you found shares to be more effective at increasing your posts' reach than likes? Let us know in the comments.
That is the key finding from some recently released research by Socialbakers, which says it is now able to demonstrate that shares directly correlate with viral reach more than any other kind of interaction.
Here are a couple of graphs that do just that, looking at both media and brand posts:
Viral reach, by the way, refers to those who saw a story in their News Feed or Ticker only because of one or more of their friends interacted with it.
According to the findings, there's a 72% chance that if a Facebook user sees a Media post referred from a Facebook friend interacting with it, the interaction was a comment, but if that person shared it, the percentage goes up to 99.8%. The numbers for brand pages are 28% for comments and 94% for shares.
"Another major finding from our research is that most unique Media impressions come from viral reach – and from their posts being shared," says Socialbakers social media analyst Phillip Ross. "This fits the general pattern we see in our Promoted Post Detection tool (an exclusive component of our social media analytics tool), that almost all Media engagement is organic. Now, we know that this organic engagement almost certainly comes from content being shared. But for Brands, it’s not the same story. Shares only correlate 55% with unique impressions for Brand posts."
"Strangely enough, Likes correlate most strongly with overall Brand post impressions," he adds. "This phenomenon happens for a more obvious reason than it may seem: there are simply more Likes happening to the average Brand post than there are Shares. Keep in mind there’s still a very high correlation between Shares and unique viral impressions – but because viral impressions only make up 6% of all Brand impressions, most Brand post impressions that come from social referrals will come from Likes. The lesson here is clear: To get friends of your target audience to see your branded content – and to get the broadest reach possible on Facebook – your content must be shareable."
Socialbakers also shared this video of its executive chairman talking about engagement data of publishers, which the firm says brands should be looking to for inspiration when it comes to shareable content.
The advice here essentially amounts to following BuzzFeed and Business Insider to see how to do content for social media.
A Facebook spokesperson was recently quoted as saying, "Over the past two years, we’ve seen referral traffic to publishers from Facebook grow significantly, nearly across the board. As the number of posts to Facebook has increased substantially over the past few months, there has been a corresponding increase in the amount of potential posts to show any one person, which impacts reach. In this newly competitive landscape, we’re seeing results vary by publisher: some are experiencing continued growth in referral traffic while others have seen declines. On the whole, referrals to the top 1,000 publishers are at the same level today as they were in January."
Clearly, businesses need to be creating content that people want to share with others, and should be going out of their way to encourage people to do just that. Does your content only display Facebook's like button and not the share button? That's a good place to start.
We recently looked at some findings indicating that short and sweet Facebook posts tend to drive more traffic to websites. More on that here.
Do you focus on getting shares over likes? Do you post content that emulates that of the media? Discuss.
Images via Facebook, Socialbakers