Despite the best efforts of platforms like Tik Tok, Snapchat, Pinterest and even Twitter, when it comes to social media platforms for businesses, Facebook and Instagram still rule the roost.
Facebook (2.23 billion monthly active users (MAUs) and Instagram (1 billion MAUs) pull in a huge number of visitors and whilst YouTube (1.9 billion MAUs), WhatsApp (1.5 billion MAUs) and Messenger (1.3 billion MAUs) are all major platforms, none can offer the same levels of reach, engagement and most importantly, measurability as the big two.
The way businesses use each of the social media platforms listed above (as well as many other platforms available out there) varies significantly from platform to platform. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to posting on social media and that’s why you need to tailor your posts to the specific platform you are posting on.
Whilst cross-platform posting can be an efficient use of your time, it is unlikely to drive the best possible results and we would always recommend taking a platform-specific approach to posting. Whilst the overall messaging may be the same, the way you post is likely to be different from one platform to another.
The ingredients of a successful social media post
We are going to take a closer look at the key factors that make up a successful looking post on both Facebook and Instagram, as well as the best time to publish these perfect posts, however, first, we wanted to run through some of the key ingredients that should be considered, no matter the platform:
- Make sure you analyse your current performance and set benchmarks for each different type of post (link, image video etc). Once you have a benchmark, this will allow you to rate each of your posts against this benchmark and determine whether it is successful or not, helping you to refine the way you post.
- Review what your competitors are doing and see what works for them. Based on some of the basic metrics you can pull without analytics (likes, comments shares etc), you can also compare how their posts match up against your own, based on the size of their audience. Facebook will also allow you to add in up to five key competitors and show you some key metrics like engagement so make sure you are using all the information available to help you to refine your own strategy.
- The perfect post is not always about the type of post, the number of characters you use, or how many emojis you include. At the end of the day, people will engage with content that resonates with them so however you present it, make sure that whatever you are posting is high-quality content (blog post link, image, video etc) and this will be a huge step in the right direction towards achieving the engagement you desire.
In order to provide you with the best possible guidance when it comes to publishing the perfect social media post, we have tapped into some fantastic research carried out by social media giants, Quintly and Sprout Social.
In their research, Quintly studied 239,327 Facebook pages and 11,472,559 posts. They also looked at 41,389 Instagram profiles and 1,019,978 posts. The data collected has provided some really interesting insights and these can help to shape the way you publish posts to these two platforms.
Let’s take a closer look at the results:
Creating the perfect Facebook post
Here are some of the key finding when it comes to publishing posts on Facebook:
- Links are the most commonly published type of post on Facebook with 54.39% of the posts analysed being link posts. Images were next at 29.85% and videos in third with 13.32%. These three types of post made up over 97% of all the posts analysed so it’s clear to see where most people and businesses are focussing.
- When it comes to engagement, videos are the most engaging type of post followed by photos. Links come in fourth place behind status updates, although the percentage of status updates is very low. This does, however, tell you that Facebook is still a very visual platform, despite the rise of Instagram and that you need to ensure that photos and videos are part of your content mix along with links to relevant content.
- Keep your Facebook posts short and sweet. Posts with 1-50 character have the highest engagement on Facebook followed by posts with no text at all. The longer your post, the lower the engagement.
- Keep using those emojis. Posts with 1-3 emojis have a much higher engagement rate than those with no emojis and even when you get heavy-handed and include 4-10 and 10+, these posts still gain more engagement than those without emojis.
- Hashtags are not popular on Facebook and you should avoid using them if you want to maximise engagement. Posts with no hashtags outperform posts with any number of hashtags and the more you use, the lower the engagement.
Image credit: Quintly
When are the best times to post on Facebook?
Social media giants Sprout Social have long analysed the best times for posting on Facebook and other social media platforms and their findings are always interesting. The one thing that is very difficult for them to do is to break this down into country-specific times, so they tend to take a global approach which means the timings do not always work for your brand depending on where your target audience is based.
For example, the latest study carried out by Sprout Social looking at the best times to post to Facebook globally shows that:
Best times: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Best days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
Worst day: Saturday
This information goes against some of the results of the Quintly research that showed weekends to be a popular time to post and one where you are likely to get more engagement. Posting between 9 am and 1 pm also seems to be an odd time as most people would be at work at those times. Remember – these times and days are all set to Central Time in the US and here in New Zealand, they don’t really work if you are targeting NZ customers.
We have found, over many years of working for a range of clients, that the sweet spot for posting to Facebook during the week is between 7 pm and 8 pm and on the weekend between 4 pm and 5 pm. Sadly, we don’t have enough data to be able to back this up, however, anecdotally, having tried posting at a number of different times, this is the time when we typically see the highest engagement here in New Zealand.
Creating the perfect Instagram post
Returning back to Quintly’s research into the perfect social media post, here are the key findings when it comes to creating the perfect post on Instagram:
- It might seem obvious to say, however, images are the dominant post type on Instagram with 75.18% of all posts on the platform following by videos (16.39%) and carousels (8.43%). Despite the volume of images posted, it’s video content that gets the highest engagement, followed by carousels and images bringing up the rear.
- Like Facebook, the highest engagement on Instagram comes on posts that are published on a weekend, despite the fact that the majority of posts are published on weekdays.
- Just like Facebook, you need to keep your Instagram posts short and snappy. Posts with 1-50 characters have the highest engagement closely followed by posts with zero characters. The more characters you use, the lower the engagement.
- Emojis are not as popular on Instagram as they are on Facebook, but perhaps they should be. The research shows that Instagram posts that use 10+ emojis have the highest engagement followed by posts with 1-3. Posts with zero emojis had the lowest engagement.
- Hashtags are definitely more popular on Instagram, however, they should be used sparingly. Posts with 1-3 hashtags had the highest engagement followed by posts with zero hashtags. The more hashtags you add beyond three, the lower your engagement.
When are the best times to post on Instagram?
Research by Sprout Social shows that globally, the best times to publish on Instagram using Central Time are:
Best times: Tuesday 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Monday through Friday 11 a.m.
Best day: Tuesday
Worst day: Sunday
These times don’t really work for NZ audiences. Posting at 11 am CT would be the equivalent of posting at 4 am here in New Zealand which simply wouldn’t work. Instead, we have found that sticking to a fairly consistent publishing schedule for both Facebook and Instagram works the best for our clients here in New Zealand. We have found that the 7 pm to 10 pm window is the time that most people are sat on their phones, watching TV and checking out their feeds, so try experimenting by posting in that window and see what works best for your brand.
Creating the perfect post for Facebook and Instagram can be fairly subjective. We have seen plenty of long posts, packed full of hashtags that have gathered really good engagement, however, if you are posting regularly to either platform, we recommend sticking to the tips above. Keep things short and sweet and use hashtags and emojis sparingly – make them relevant and make them count if you do use them.