Great Facebook Idea: Return of the Text

Every time I read social media writing that tells people that posting photos on Facebook is the key to engagement, I sing to myself, "You lied to me, yes I cried, yes I cried... Return of the Text!" (Don't cry for me 1990s, the truth is I never left you.)

Yes, Facebook is super visual these days. And yes, photos tend to elicit very strong engagement. But ignore plain text posts at your own peril. Remember, EdgeRank isn't so much about the type of post so much as it is the affinity your followers have for 1) your posts and 2) posts of that type. 

That is, if people like engaging with your page, they are much more likely to see your posts no matter what type. And people who love watching videos will see most of your video posts, people who have a history of liking text-only posts will see your text posts, people who like sharing photos will see your photos, and so on. And of course, the only real and lasting way to increase your EdgeRank score is a dogged focus on quality of content. (John Loomer has a great breakdown of this on his blog, and explains it much better and more clearly than I do, because he's a better writer than me.)

Having said all that.. after Facebook re-jiggered its algorithms last fall (much to the dismay of many page managers who saw "reach" numbers plummet), a trend was noticed - photos, long the dominant post type for reach and engagement, took a back seat to plain-text posts in terms of the average percentage of fans reached. While this isn't necessarily true for everyone, I can personally vouch for the fact that on the UP page, plain text posts regularly "out reach" other types of posts.

Which brings me to my tale of today. I follow hundreds upon hundreds of colleges on my Social Media for Colleges Facebook page (go like me!), and when I viewed my feed this evening, almost all of the top posts (which are sorted based on relevance/engagement) were plain text. Here's a smattering:

Old school Facebooking at its finest.

Old school Facebooking at its finest.

Notice the trend? Short. Quick. Engaging. No photos.

I'm highlighting these posts not so much for their content - though they do a great job of engaging their followers - but because it was a bit of an "Aha!" moment for an grizzled old Facebook vet like myself. Plain text posts have still got it as a key way to engage your followers. I feel like know this instinctually - I've been getting strong reach/engagement numbers on plain text posts over the past six months - but it was a powerful reminder to see so may plain text posts bunched at the top when I logged in last night.

I'm not saying to abandon photos by any means... I'm just saying that plain text still has value, and in fact is often the best option, especially if a higher reach on a particular post is your goal. Producing quality content is now and every shall be king, but if you've been hesitant to post plain text because you've read so much (and learned from experience) that photos are the way to go, consider mixing things up a bit - you won't be disappointed.

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