Facebook Engagement, How to Get Seen in the Facebook News Feed

Do you want to understand Facebook engagement?

Are you looking for Facebook engagement tactics that lead to news feed visibility?

To learn how to better use Facebook, I interview John Haydon for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview John Haydon, author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies and founder of Inbound Zombie, a consultancy focused on small- and medium-sized nonprofits.

John shares why Facebook engagement is so important.

You’ll learn how to better engage Facebook fans.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

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You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, or Stitcher.

Facebook Engagement

Why Facebook engagement is so important

John says that his definition of engagement—from a Facebook perspective—is like, comment and share, because that’s what really matters.


Facebook engagement is made up of likes, comments and shares.

In his experience working with Facebook and nonprofits, which is slightly different than the for-profit world, John encourages an organization to work with existing community and get that community talking about them.

He says he thinks about engagement, as it pertains to Facebook, as word of mouth.

John explains that when your current customers or donors engage with content from your Facebook page (or talk about that content), their friends see that content. That’s increased exposure for your organization.

John says that exposure starts by getting your current community, the people who already love you, to engage first.

Listen to the show to find out how the news feed algorithm impacts engagement. 

How Facebook page managers should spur engagement 

John wants to change the word posting to planting because when you plant something, like a bush, you have to stick around and take care of it. If you post an update on Facebook, you want to pay attention to how it’s performing. If people are commenting, liking and sharing, you want to be involved in that comment thread.


John understands the importance of replying to comments to spur engagement.

Recalling Amy Porterfield’s words from a few weeks ago, John says the more people notice that you stick around, the more they’ll engage with your content.

John agrees that community management on Facebook comes down to identifying the best-performing content, then tweaking and experimenting with content to optimize how you’re posting, topics, times that you’re posting, etc.

Listen to the show to hear what you’re missing by not interacting with what people are saying on your Facebook page.

The Talking About This metric and how it’s calculated

John explains this metric as anything that a Facebook user does to create a story in their news feed for their friends to see.


This post was shared into another user’s news feed.

He says that when a user shares something, likes a page, RSVPs to an event a page has published or tags that page in a photo or a status update, all of these actions put content into the news feed of that user’s friends so that they become aware. It’s really what you might call viral reach.

Anything that creates viral reach is Talking About This.

Listen to the show to learn more about Talking About This.

How a Facebook page used engagement to achieve a goal

Three years ago, the Brain Aneurysm Foundation was doing Facebook upside-down. John worked on a strategy that started with letting people use the page to express who they are. The foundation tapped into the passion around the issue and encouraged people to share their stories on the page.

One of the first posts was, “If you’ve had a friend who found out they had a brain aneurysm, what would be your number-one tip?”

Now their Facebook page is mostly made up of posts by others who come to share their stories.

The next issue was how to translate that engagement into email subscribers, donors or fundraisers.

On one end of the engagement spectrum, they had people liking, commenting and sharing. On the other end, they had people creating a peer-to-peer fundraising page—the highest level of engagement in the organization.

To bridge the gap, they created a Facebook app with ShortStack that allowed people to post a memorial image. The app collected the user’s email, then prompted him or her to share the memorial with their friends and create a peer-to-peer fundraising page.

In the nonprofit world, the number-one converting medium is email. John says that the biggest mistake he sees organizations make is that they discount Facebook as a fundraising tool because no one wants to donate on Facebook. John says they need to understand that Facebook is part of the path to bring people to the point of donating.

Listen to the show to find out how Facebook works in the conversion path.

Engagement tips and tactics

John recommends the Forrester Research POST method for social media.

  • People. First, get to know your people.
  • Objectives. Now that you understand your people, what are you going to give them that’s valuable and how will that achieve your business results?
  • Strategy. This is the value exchange. What are we going to give in exchange for the money we’re asking for?
  • Tactics. Let’s think about doing “X” type of campaign, post these photos, reply to all comments and retweet the high-performing posts.

John shares his thoughts on some specific tactics.

His rule on updates is to post at least once a day. He says that if you’re not posting once a day, you’re missing out. You have to start that rhythm and research shows that 1 to 5 updates a day is what you need to get exposure.

When you share a photo, make sure it has more than one person in it doing something. Those images will get more reaction than a photo of people standing shoulder to shoulder, smiling nicely.

If you post a text update with an open question, fewer people will respond. John says closed questions are the way to go: yes or no, true or false, fill in the blank. When you post questions like this in fewer than 80 characters (keep it short, sweet, concise), you take advantage of the brain’s auto-complete feature and people respond.


This closed question generated 2 shares, 53 likes and 84 comments.

Listen to the show to find out the best way to post links to your latest blog article.

What to look for in Facebook Insights and what you can gain

John says the typical busy small business needs to know what their best content is. What gets the most likes, comments and shares and how they can get more of the same. That’s the business problem.

John tells you how to find the Engagement Rate metric for all of your posts in Facebook Insights (the percentage of people who saw an update and liked, commented, shared or clicked on it in some way), so you can see the types of posts that perform best.


You can track post engagement in Facebook Insights.

Look at the engagement rate for your posts and experiment so you can see what your audience seems to be more engaged with. Then use that information to do more of those and fewer of the things that don’t get engagement.

The higher the engagement rate, the better-performing the post.

John shares that he limits his analysis to people who like the page. Focus on finding who, of the people who are fans that you reach, is liking, commenting and sharing.

Listen to the show to find out about other Facebook metric reporting tools.

What one message about engagement do you want people to take with them?

John says to give people something to talk about. Don’t just post stuff about you and treat Facebook as a free email list. Be useful.

He recommends Jay Baer’s book Youtility, because it discusses this issue right down to the core.

John believes that Facebook is changing how marketers approach things. Marketers can no longer just push stuff out there. They have to listen and pay attention and get to know their people. Understand them, THEN reply.

John points out that Social Media Examiner provides a tremendous best-practice example of this.

Listen to the show to find out what questions will help you think about your customers first.

Discovery of the Week

Are you looking for a great way to integrate Facebook into your blog?

The Official Facebook Plugin for WordPress allows you to do some really cool things.

One thing you can do is integrate a Like button, a Send button and/or a Follow button into your WordPress blog. Each of the buttons has its own custom integration, so you can show a Like button at the top of your page and a Send button at the bottom.


The Official Facebook WordPress plugin makes it easy to integrate the Like button.

Not only does the plugin allow people to like the content from your blog, it also lets you show the names and faces of other people who liked your content.

You can find it here and try it out.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Listen to the show to learn more about how we use this at Social Media Examiner and let us know how it works for you.

Other Show Mentions

SMMW logoSocial Media Marketing World 2014 is our physical mega-conference, which is set to return to San Diego, California on March 26, 27 and 28.

The conference features more than 60 sessions in 4 major tracks, which include social tactics, social strategy, community management and content marketing.

Here are some of the newer presenters we’ve recently added: Joel Comm, Jonathan Fields, Syed Balkhi and presenters from Hershey’s, Citrix, Cox Communications and the Huffington Post.

This is truly a global conference. We are expecting 2000 marketers in San Diego, doing nothing but living and breathing social media and having a lot of fun and connecting with fellow marketers. Be sure to check it out.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on using Facebook to achieve viral reach? Please leave your comments below.

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