News Whip recently released the biggest publishers on Facebook in October 2015, ranked by total shares. After reviewing each of the top ten most shared publishers, I came to notice a few similarities. Below I analyze the posts to discover how each of these publishers gained so many shares.
(Source: News Whip)
Each organization knows their audience and speaks to them in their vernacular (see: BuzzFeed post above). BuzzFeed, LittleThings.com, and Breitbart post dramatic captions using single words, questions, exclamation points, ellipses and capitalization of key words to attract clicks to their websites, while more news-centric organizations like Huffington Post, Fox News, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC and Yahoo, post short, descriptive captions, occasionally including quotes from the article being posted. Lastly, NBC deserves to be in its own category because although it posts in the format of the news-centric organizations, its content surrounds their TV shows, not news. All of the organizations, post frequently (between 10 and 20 times a day), use short captions, compelling article titles and provoking photos, and tag companies/celebrities when appropriate.
BuzzFeed is notorious for their clickbait posts, but in my opinion they aren’t even the worst of the offenders. Both LittleThings.com (which posts “the most amazing” stories from around the world) and Breitbart (the conservative political version of LittleThings.com) post overly dramatic captions to attract viewers to click on their posts. Captions like: “The reason why will give you chills…,” “Can you BELIEVE this makeover?! I’m stunned!,” and “And there’s ONE thing driving it all…” are commonplace on BuzzFeed, LittleThings.com and Breitbart. In addition to their clickbait article titles and captions, each of these three organizations:
- Use short captions, usually lacking in description
- Rely on the article’s image to tell some of the story (a few images even seem to be intentionally cropped so that it further entices the viewer to click to view the rest of the photo)
- Don’t include a link in the caption
- Don’t use subtitles (most of the time)
Honestly, the above posts seem cheap to me and only a few organizations can get away with this sort of clickbait. Whenever I read them I can’t help but think of the famous voiceover actor Dan LaFontaine, famous for his “In a world…” trailers:
And, I’m not the only one who thinks sensational captions are cheesy. On using approach, Hootsuite declares, “All of this intense expression, all of the time, is unsustainable for any person or brand and comes off as inauthentic. If you want your brand’s authority and clout to remain intact, using hyperboles or overly exaggerated words in your social media content is something you want to avoid.”
The news-centric organizations mentioned above are more my style. It seems they follow the same formula as the aforementioned organizations with three exceptions – their captions are aren’t clickbait (instead they are more descriptive), they post much more video directly to Facebook, and they include quotes from those interviewed in the articles/videos. Even with these exceptions, the posts are still shared many times over.
After reviewing posts from these more news-centric organizations, I did discover that more sensational news stories and lifestyle posts received relatively more like and shares. See the National Cheese Lovers Day post from The New York Times below.
So, what makes a perfect Facebook article post? A short caption that resonates with your audience and relevant imagery.