Everyone would like to know the secret behind the success of Facebook marketing. Which are the posts with the best topics, best results and which ones are the most engaging for the readers? Is there some secret recipe that we should all be following?

Although such recipe, for creating the perfect post, does not exist, there are however a few tips and tricks that could come in handy and inspire a successful post. We tried uncovering some of the secret “ingredients” so that you can write the perfect Facebook post.

Make no mistake, kittens and babies are cute and adorable but they are not enough. You’re going to have to put some extra work into it, identify and analyze what your business audience needs and wants. Also, check out the top six key elements that shape a valuable Facebook post.

1) It has a well defined goal

Before you start writing a Facebook post, you need to establish your objective. To do so, you should have the answers to a few questions. What is the purpose of your post? What are you looking to obtain from it? Is it to increase the traffic on your website? Or to encourage people to comment on it or share it? Is it to spark a debate or a conversation starter? In order for the post to be effective, the objective should be obvious from the get-go.

Pay attention to the headline, as well, because that attracts people to click on the link and read the whole post. If it’s a new product being introduced, consider a special deal or offer to encourage clicking. Make use of the following examples:

Both posts have a clearly defined objective, with one of them asking members to follow a LinkedIn Group and the other offering a limited time deal.

2) It engages people

Not only does a successful Facebook post bring something new to the table but it also demands involvement and action from the readers, by using short phrases like:“subscribe now,” “share your ideas,” or “tell us what you think.”

Keep in mind that using a particular and engaging language is important but do not expect people to idolise your product and dedicate an essay to it. Try to get their honest feedback by asking them about personal experience, opinions or situations they’ve encountered and thus creating a circle of trust, a community in which they feel they can speak freely and share their thoughts.

Some of the “tested” posts which have the ability to engage people on Facebook are:

  • Asking a simple, straightforward question. This can offer information on your product, your audience’s profession or their lifestyle (for example “Blue/black or white/gold?)
  • Fill-in-the-blank type of statement. Posting a statement asking for an on point answer (such as, “The one thing I can’t live without at work is ________.”)
  • Photo caption. Posting a photo (or even a video) and asking people for an appropriate caption is another great way to get their attention and engagement (#captionthis #photocaption)
  • Choosing between A, B, or C options. Posting a statement/photo and asking people which of the following represents their choice of action (“If your coworker misses a deadline that affects your delivery, would you rather: A) pick up the slack B) call him out on it C) tell your mom).

Pay extra attention to requesting people to post content on a friend’s Timeline, as this is frowned upon and considered dodgy activity, similar to spamming. Instead, you can ask people to share content but again, never to specifically post on other people’s Wall.

In the following example, we can see a high level of engagement from people, with more than 250 comments and 40 shares, answering a company’s request for comments on their new product.

3) It includes both a photo and a link

While you may think that a text-only post is outdone by a photo post, in generating a reaction, you are on the wrong side as Facebook maintains that link posts are superior to photo posts (including a link) in generating clicks. Just make sure that when sharing a link on Facebook, it has an image attached to it, that will appear in the News Feed.

If this is not the case, you should probably go with a photo post + short link instead. In order to do that, just click the photo icon in the status area and upload a photo of your choice. Make sure you’re adding the text and a short URL (you can use an URL shortener like bitly or owl.ly). For example:

URL links in photos (above) may generate less clicks than linked posts (below). But the photo in question is pretty compelling and generated more than 190 shares, and over 6,000 likes. The example below is a linked post with a compelling photo.

4) It’s brief, but makes use of a compelling language

Several studies, similar to this one, showed that the length of a post is also important, meaning that a post with fewer characters (from 40 to 70) generates better results.

A compelling, yet on point language is also necessary but do not fall in the extreme of ‘click-bait’ phrasing either. Click bait is actually the use of ambiguous or misleading language suchs as “You’ll never believe the five things this guy said…” to generate instant clicks, without delivering what was promised. Facebook is currently trying to figure how they can penalize these unfair practices. It’s also not a good long term strategy as people will quickly catch up on it and won’t make the same mistake to click a second time around.

The example above shows how a short, on point, engaging text accompanying a photo should look like. Another similar example can be found below, of a photo and short URL.

5) It shouldn’t always be promotional

It is ok to occasionally post promotional related content but be careful not to overdo it. There needs to be a balance between the getting and giving by offering the audience valuable content and entertaining the idea of community.

A combo of around 30-70 promotional content (with appropriate links leading back to your website) and relevant content, with actual information, useful and interesting for the target audience and community, is what your posts should be.

Also, a very appreciated characteristic is the humour, as long as it’s tasteful and mindful of the target audience. For this to be successful, “you should really know your audience”, as the saying goes.

The example below comes from Walmart which had a big reaction and huge response rate, mostly because it was humorous and did not seek to just promote a product.

HubSpot’s post is another example, this time of an educational content. The post is neither promotional, nor related to what HubSpot has to offer, but either way, it was highly shared by readers (1,000 shares). It’s obvious that people appreciate you sharing knowledge without asking anything in return.

6) It’s either provocative, inspirational or both

By posting content that subtly or obviously appeals to the audience by identifying with their beliefs or viewpoints, you can generate a good response rate. Beware of sensitive topics such as politics, controversial or negative ones (unless that is your objective). Positive and uplifting content such as memes and quotes will appeal more to your audience but make sure that you stay true to yourself.

Inspirational thoughts accompanying photos are one of the best ways of getting a high number of shares.

Keep it as real and relevant as possible

To sum up, it is mandatory that the content you post represents you and your brand in an authentic way, as this is the only way you can engage your audience. Be concise and straightforward, make use of relevant photos and videos, request an action or reaction from your audience and don’t forget to include a link back to your website, when appropriate. This is an advice always applicable that you will get from any good marketer.

So next time you write a Facebook post, keep in mind these 6 key points to be as effective as possible and reach your objective.