Three Tips to Increase Your Social Engagement

By Drew Lancaster     |     November 20, 2012

If you Google “How to increase Facebook engagement” you will be littered with easy tips that promise ways to get your customers talking. Our guess is that if you have ever done research on this topic, you probably got the same answers from just about every blog you read: ask questions, post photos, run contests and incentivize fans, use call to actions, etc. We don’t want to discount these tips, they are very important. But through a series of A/B test, we found 3 easy ways to increase engagement that you probably aren’t using.

1. Don’t Use Facebook’s Generated Thumbnail!

Links can be a great addition to a post. They can drive website to your traffic and redirect your fans where you want them to go. Links can also send your fans to landing pages that will give you the ability to make a conversion. You’re probably aware that when adding a link to your post, Facebook adds a thumbnail and generally a brief description about the page you’re linking to. This generally makes the post look clean and simple and ultimately more appealing for a fan to engage with, right? WRONG! Through a series of A/B test, we found that when taking a screen shot from the website that you’re linking to and simply adding that photo to the post while removing Facebook’s generated thumbnail, fans will be much more likely to interact with your post.

The images above are very similar and have a very similar theme. The reach of the two posts are also very similar. What’s not similar is the amount of engagement between the two posts. The post with the image instead of the thumbnail received 45 more likes and one more comment despite being slightly smaller in reach.

2. Use Instagram Photos

We know that a general best practice is to use photos on Facebook. Photos create better engagement among fans and make your page much more visually appealing. But do some photos perform better than others? Through our A/B testing, we found that Instagram photos consistently outperformed professional photography and studio photos.


Despite having almost twice as much reach, the studio photo had 20 less likes than the Instagram photo. The post on the left was taken before the Facebook algorithm change, where the post on the right was made after brand pages started seeing lower reach levels. Imagine what kind of engagement the post on the right would of enjoyed with a higher reach…

3. Spell Out “Retweet”

For our final tip, we will shift the conversation from Facebook to Twitter. The human brain works in mysterious ways. The smallest of tweaks to your tweets can cause a big difference in performance. One of the tweaks we found to be very important in getting more retweets is to spell out “Retweet” rather than “RT” when you using a call to action. How much does it help to spell out “Retweet?” A lot! The account we used to test this tip had 39 tweets over a 90 day span. Of that 90 day span, we only used “Retweet” over the final 30 days of that 90 day period. We found that over that 90 day period, 49% of retweets came in the final 30 days. We also found that 26% of retweets in a 3 month period came from the final two weeks of that 90 day testing period.


About Drew Lancaster

Colorado transplant from Oklahoma with a love for all things digital. College Football Junkie. Lover of the Oklahoma Sooners, skiing, and my St. Bernard, Breck.


  • Great post Drew! It’s good to see folks take the extra step to test and measure their content. Facebook’s analytics fall short on real insights in my opinion.

  • brunofridl says:

    Great post. I have a question for the A/B testing method. The date for each test (#1 and #2 on facebook) are differents. August 23 vs september 23 for facebook thumbnail and july 3 vs october 2 for instagram photos.
    For a real A/B testing, you need to post the same moment the 2 posts. What about it ?

  • That’s a great point. Since it was on Facebook and for a live client account, we couldn’t post the two different themes at the same time. The main thing we were interested in was seeing the ratio of people who saw the post and the amount that interacted with that post. For the post with only a thumbnail, we saw a much smaller ratio for engagement than with the image and link.

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