If you know me personally, follow my blog and/or twitter, you know that I post a lot of potentially divisive, contentious and depressing topics (politics, death, war). The goal for me in postings these is twofold: (1) sharing content I have read in the hopes that someone in my social network finds them interesting and (2) consciousness raising. Consciousness raising, popularized by feminist scholars, basically means making other more aware of a certain issue or conditions, I.E. #BlackLivesMatter.
Using my Facebook as a template, I’ve created this guide to share some tips on how to get people to actually pay attention to those things that matter to you, the reader. These tips are based mainly on anecdotal evidence but also things I have read along the way. Obviously this won’t work for everyone–you have to tailor it to your personal networks–and I don’t always follow these rules myself, but I think this may help more than it will hurt. Additionally, people have to some opinion on your opinion. Whether they agree or disagree, they need to feel like your content is worth engaging with.
When posting an article/content on Facebook:
1) Busy, bored, and disengaged; “I didn’t logon to get an education”
Simply put: a lot of people won’t like or notice a lot of what you post, so make it interesting. Keep in mind that outside of your personal relationships with those in your networks, social media is also affected by how much you interact with other people and how much they interact with you. Practically that looks like liking their photos, commenting on statuses, etc. So if you’re not very active, even with these tips you won’t be popping up in people’s feeds as often.
2) Choose a reliable source; ain’t nobody got time for false information.
Can the content be found on another [verifiable] source? If it’s a not a news source, like a blog, does it have a history of great content (like Black Girl Dangerous) ? Does it contain references for the information it cites? This may seem obvious, but it’s important because if you have a reputation for posting from unreliable sources, people are less likely to engage with your content. Examples of sources I often cite include Al Jazeera News, The New York Times, The Root, etc.
3) Framing is important; context is key.
Think about your own use on Facebook. What would make you as likely to click on a Buzzfeed article as an NPR article? Outside of the thumbnail used, interest level in the content is a huge factor for many people. Considering #1–people often avoid talking about socially conscious issues–expect that people will only read the headlines of what you post, at best.In order to properly frame an article, see below.
4) Include a comment or quote; make the reader’s job easier.
People will scroll past links, even when you do caption the articles but these people know you through familial, business, or school connections, giving you an in. But chances are, they may not click the link but may skim your comment. For this reason I usually will usually include 2-4 sentences (if it’s too long, people will often scroll past) of a mix of:
a: My thoughts/reaction (taking into account my own bias or the bias of the author)
b: Thesis statement from the article
c: A short quote that spoke to me
5) Monitor posting frequency; be strategic
There are better resources than I to tell you when to post (to achieve peak times for traffic), but I can tell you that Facebook has algorithms and people have limits. Posting too often will mean that your posts won’t show up. Additionally, think of how you “reserve” your likes for a post on instagram. If a friend posts six amazing photos within one minute, many people won’t like all six. But if she spread them out throughout the day or the course of a few days, she gets the most exposure and maximum likes, if you will.
Anthony is a member of Cal BSU. He also is a Mellon Mays fellow.