As a designer, I tend to pay inordinate attention to the little creative details of life that others overlook. A couple of years ago I noticed a subtle change in my supermarket; certain trendy brands were no longer advertising their website on their product labels. Instead, they were linking to their Facebook pages.

The introduction of the Timeline profile has slightly curbed this trend in recent years. Nevertheless, it was (and remains) a brilliant idea, and one that even small business owners should consider capitalising on.

The most important reason is that Facebook multiplies your exposure if you use it well. If a customer interacts with your website, then you have served one customer. But when a customer interacts with your Facebook page through Likes, comments and Shares, that activity is usually broadcast to their friends. You’ve served that customer, and advertised to their contacts in the process.

This begs the question: How can I improve the likelihood of my Facebook content being read and shared? Here are six ideas.

 

1. Keep everything short.

Recent figures show that about 250 million Facebook users log on each day. These regular users each produce an average of 90 pieces of content per month (that’s three posts per day!). There’s a lot going on at an incredibly fast pace; the average user has neither the time nor inclination to read 1000-word posts.

The internet has long used the acronym tl;dr to describe the attitude of most social media users. It stands for “too long; didn’t read”. The structure of Facebook promotes bite-sized content, so those long, informative posts belong on your blog, not your Timeline.

 

2. Convert your text to an image

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is a vital truth that all effective Facebook users have grasped.

You know those humorous graphics with pithy one-sentence observations set on a coloured background beside a Victorian-era line drawing? Of course you do – they turn up on your news feed every day after your friends Like and Share them.

They get shared so frequently because funny-text-as-image is a winning formula. According to Tracksocial, if that same sentence was posted as plain text, it would receive less than half as many Likes.

You can increase the likelihood of people engaging with your content simply by typing it in a suitable font on a coloured background.

 

3. Use pictures to elicit emotion

If simple text-on-colour images are successful, then consider how much more effective a great photo must be. Even simple pictures draw attention, but why not try photographs?

People like finding humour on Facebook, so funny posts tend to go viral. But other emotions can also generate engagement. I’m sure that in your news feed right now you have at least one photo that your friend has liked because they found it inspirational, fascinating or relatable.

Use emotive photographs that support your content. Your particular business or produce will determine whether that should be awe-inducing landscapes or humorous photos of awkward situations.

 

4. Don’t tell people what to do

I strongly advise against captioning content with “Like this post” or any similar variant. In this age of independence, people don’t like to be told what to do. If your content connects with them, they will Like it of their own accord.

In all aspects of marketing the most effective course is to let the customer choose to buy. Telling someone to buy and using hard closes tends to raise hackles in the cynical 21st century world. This rule extends to Facebook.

And besides, saying “Like this post” makes you look like an attention starved 13 year old who is desperate to be popular. You are more professional than that!

 

5. Be consistent in your design

As you start to use visuals, you’ll need to establish a personal style guide. The average Facebook user can get away with posting and sharing all sorts of eclectic content. A professional business can’t.

Keep your design consistent with your corporate branding (You do have corporate branding, don’t you? If not, we really need to talk!).

If your logo is rounded and soft, it doesn’t make sense to choose hard blocky fonts for your Facebook content. If your company colours are blue and green, keep your images in a compatible palette.

Let your content become psychologically linked with your brand. And speaking of psychology…

 

6. Choose psychologically appealing colours and fonts

Which colours are psychologically appealing? That depends enormously on your product and your target audience.

The psychology of colour and font is such a big topic that it warrants its own post. In the near future, I’ll discuss how such design choices in your branding are influencing your customers’ perceptions.

Until then, Like us on Facebook. But only if you choose to, of course – I wouldn’t want to look like an attention starved 13 year old trying to tell you what to do!