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Jared Hamilton
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How to Serve a Balanced Social Content Diet on Facebook and Google+

Balanced Diet

Businesses and organizations have made strides in the last year to improve their overall understanding and strategy in social media. Many who once played in the social media realm using traditional internet marketing techniques such as posting only self-serving links have changed gears and focused on higher-visibility content such as images. Unfortunately, many are still lacking the understanding of how the networks work and how to post properly. It’s like eating. Social media in general likes balance. Facebook and Google+ in particular are most effective when the right balance is created.

They like a balanced diet of content. Both are very similar in the way their algorithms work. Google uses a formula similar to Facebook’s EdgeRank to determine where content appears on the feed. While the strategies surrounding content on each is different, it is better (for now) to post mirrored content on the two networks simultaneously. The main reason for this is human nature; since Facebook has so much more engagement than Google+ right now, splitting the strategies might lead to shortcuts and eventually Google+ will not get the same level of attention. By posting to each together, it simplifies the process and reduces the chance of getting “Google+ fatigue”.

By feeding the networks with the appropriate levels of each type of content, your overall social media strategy can improve. Here’s how:

Understanding the Four Content Food Groups

Just like the food groups comprising a good diet, social media content types have different strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Links are like vegetables. Many people don’t like their veggies and wouldn’t eat them if they didn’t have to. They’re healthy, just as links are healthy for your marketing efforts, but they aren’t as desirable as other food types. On Facebook, links are given the lowest “weight” when it comes to EdgeRank. People like them less. The news feed displays them lower (if at all) when your fans surf the stream. Still, they are a necessary component of a strong social media strategy just as they are an important part of a balanced diet.
  2. Videos are the starches, the potatoes and grains. They can be very desirable at times but are often merely a side dish to balance out the rest of the food. Videos are treated by Facebook much the way that direct links are, just a bit higher on the news feed.
  3. Text posts are the meat of the meal. Many people (other than vegetarians and vegans, of course) love meat. Likewise, both users and EdgeRank put text posts high on the scale. A well-received message posted in the form of text can go almost as viral as the final social media food group…
  4. Pictures are the sweets, the dessert that many crave. Just like sweets, pictures are craved by social media users as well as the news feed. They are by far the most popular, but just like with desserts, a diet that consists of only sweet pictures will not be a productive page. There simply aren’t many strong marketing messages that can be conveyed with images alone. Still, they have their place.

Now that we know what the food groups look like, let’s examine how to apply them to your social media strategy.

The Balanced Diet

EdgeRank is a complex algorithm that would require a blog post or two in order to convey the basics. The short version is this: EdgeRank determines how high your content appears on the news feeds of your fans. Not all content is created equal. Not all fans are created equal (or rather, different fans’ news feeds will display your content differently). If you play the EdgeRank “game” by mixing up your content, you can develop the appropriate strategy for your business.

The first thing to understand is thatyour strategy is different from everyone the strategy of other pages. Your goals are different, as are your assets. This is only a guide to help you develop your own strategy. Anyone who has the right “formula” for everyone doesn’t really understand how it all works.

With the understanding that Facebook and its users love pictures and text, you can start to improve your EdgeRank by getting interaction from your fans using them. Videos are not required; they are not liked by the algorithm as much as images or text and are usually not as effective from a marketing perspective as links. That’s not true for some, but most get more bang for their buck from links. Links, the veggies, are least loved and most useful, so they have their place in the diet as well.

Your strategy should be one that builds up “EdgeRank love” through images and text. Once enough of this love is accumulated, you slide in your links or videos. One common schedule is to post 2-4 images or text for every link or video you posts. If your page is very popular and your content is highly-valued, you can increase the frequency of the links, but keep in mind that even the active and engaging pages have to use links sparingly (if at all).

One trap that pages often fall into is the addiction to likes, comments, and shares. Some would argue that posting only images is the best way to go because even though they aren’t necessarily getting specific messages across, they’re able to keep the brand at the top of the news feeds and therefore get more overall exposure. This is true to some extent, but just as a diet of chocolates and candies tastes good and keeps everyone happy in the short term, long term it can be unhealthy. Too many images makes it to where the links themselves get very little visibility. In essence, they are overpowered by the sweet sugary image mess of your Facebook page.

If you’re Audi, for example, you can get away with an image-only strategy. If you’re an Audi dealer, it just won’t work. Your brand isn’t strong enough as an Audi dealership to be able to get the benefit from a dessert-only strategy.

Jim Bell
I love the balanced diet regimen that you set forth here. It's a great way to look at how dealers and small businesses should look at social.

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