The social media landscape is constantly changing – so how do you stay on top of best practices for marketing and advertising on these platforms?

Let’s talk specifically about Facebook.

While Facebook’s roots were originally founded in pure social networking between college friends, it’s grown into one of the biggest platforms for marketing and advertising. And while there are many platforms in which to invest your social media dollars, Facebook is still a leader in the space.

According to research conducted by Social Media Marketers Worldwide, March 2016, 95.8% of social marketers say Facebook produces the best ROI of all the social media platforms. Of course, this can vary depending on your product/brand, industry and target audience. But for the most part, it’s a great place to start.

So how do you play to win on Facebook? The short answer is that it’s changing all the time. In fact, a Facebook VP predicted this summer that in 5 years, Facebook will “definitely” be all mobile and “probably” all video. But here are some things we do know to be effective right now.

1. Use native Facebook content

Over the past year, there’s been a dramatic decrease in organic post reach on Facebook – in fact, only an estimated 2% of your page fans actually see your posts. Because of this it’s important to do all you can to set your posts up for success.

One way to do this is by posting native Facebook content. Facebook gives preferential treatment to its own content over links/videos shared from other sites. Here are some ways you can do this:

Upload your videos to your Facebook video library, rather than embedding URLs from YouTube, Wistia, Vimeo, etc.
Try sharing posts from other Facebook Pages instead of links to outside sites.
Create photo albums within Facebook to use in posts.

2. Optimize videos for best results

Facebook videos are 135% more likely to be viewed than photos – and as noted above, the platform’s headed in the direction of all-video news feeds in future, so it’s crucial to ensure your videos have a real impact.

Here are a few tips for success:

Turn on “autoplay” so when users scroll through their feeds, your video will start playing automatically, and thus be more likely to draw them in.
Try your hand at live videos, which are 3X more likely to be watched than regular videos.
Add closed captions to your videos. Many users scroll through their feeds on their mobile devices in places where they may need to keep their phones on silent. Including subtitles will allow them to watch your video in full effect, even if they can’t listen with sound.
So, if you’re like me and thoroughly enjoy scrolling through your feed to see all those Tasty and Delish recipe videos, or those heartwarming animal videos The Dodo always posts, then you’re in luck. Videos are the future of Facebook, and likely the future of how most content in general is consumed.

3. Time your post boosting strategically

On Facebook, timing is everything.

First and foremost, you should be scheduling your posts based on your target audience’s habits. Check your Facebook Analytics to see what days of the week and times of day your subscribers are the most engaged with your posts, and tailor your schedule accordingly. If your Page is new and you don’t have analytics yet, take your best educated guess to determine the right time to post, and then check analytics frequently to see when you’re getting the best results. Tweak your schedule per the analytics, lather, rinse, repeat.

Be sure to use your boosting power wisely – since this is the part that costs money, you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your spend.

Timing tip: When you publish a post you’re planning to boost, wait until you start seeing traction (meaning people start liking, commenting and sharing). Once you see engagement starting to pick up, that’s the time to hit that boost button. This will help maximize your post reach.

4. Get the most out of ad targeting

When boosting a post or running an ad on Facebook, it’s important to use the targeting feature appropriately.

A good place to start is by listing out your known demographic basics: age, gender, location, etc. and adding these into your target audience setup. But this isn’t always enough to get the results you want.

Here are some other things to consider trying when setting up your audiences:

Targeting people who’ve converted to previous ads
Targeting by interest, carefully using vetted interest words and phrases – try to keep it to 4 interests or less per ad
Using split tests to see what audiences garner the best results. Facebook offers a very thorough guide for split testing properly.
Using geo targeting when appropriate (local events, venues, restaurants, etc.)
You can also try thinking outside the box with some creative ways to improve your ad targeting results. For example, there’s an option to target by life events. So, let’s say you’re marketing engagement rings – you may then want to try targeting users by life events such as “newly in a relationship” or “in a relationship for one year.” It sounds a bit big brother-like, but it can help you really narrow down your audience to those with the highest level of interest and likeliness to convert.

5. Save your hashtags for Twitter and Instagram

When used strategically, hashtags can be extremely effective for expanding your reach and helping you engage in conversations relevant to your brand in a larger forum. This is incredibly useful on platforms like Twitter and Instagram where there is an endless feed of new content, where trying to keep your post from being buried is nearly impossible.

But this is not the case on Facebook. Since Facebook tailors its users’ feeds to what they prefer to see/read/watch, your hashtags likely won’t make much of a difference in how your post is categorized or where it will show up.

And it turns out, using hashtags on this platform is not only ineffective, but can also do damage. A Social Media Today article this summer explored the question of whether to use hashtags on Facebook. According to several studies, Facebook posts without hashtags perform better than those with hashtags, and the more hashtags used in a Facebook post, the worse the post performs.

The conclusion? I’d steer clear of using hashtags on Facebook unless they pertain to a specific campaign you’re tracking.

These are just a few tips to boost your ROI on Facebook, but there are virtually endless ways to play strategically on this platform. Please feel free to share any other tips and tricks in the comments.

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