8 Ways to Improve Your Facebook Engagement Without Ads

Improve Facebook Engagement Without Ads Mandy McEwen

Recently Facebook revealed a month-long error in their reach and engagement metrics. Our team at Mod Girl Marketing noticed this a few weeks back as several of our clients’ Facebook posts revealed a very low reach but high number of likes. We assumed something was off with the FB system and we were right. Given this recent finding and the buzz around Facebook Pages and the lack of reach without investing advertising dollars, we decided to put together the top 8 ways Facebook Pages can improve their engagement without spending money.


Social Media Speaker Michael Leander defines positive Facebook engagement as anything “above 1%.” Average engagement ranges from 0.5 to 0.99% and anything below 0.5% requires intervention. To calculate your engagement rate, you’ll want to consider:

Measure Facebook engagement

Image Source: SocialBakers.com

Of course, each industry differs in the level of engagement attainable. People are much more likely to interact with posts about vacationing at Disney World, versus getting an oil change, for example. Some of the most engaged brands on Facebook include regular content creators like National Geographic, as well as Burberry, Wal-Mart, Disney, and sports teams. So before hanging your head, be sure to cross-reference your engagement score with your industry average:

Facebook industry engagement

Image Source: SocialBakers.com

 Now that you know how “engaged” your fans are, let’s take a look at 8 strategies to boost those numbers!

1. Solve a problem.

People love when solutions to everyday problems are waiting in their newsfeeds, and they are likely to respond with a “thumbs up.” The best way to get their attention amid a sea of other clutter is to use a photograph (ideally one sized to 1200×1200 and FB will automatically resize it). For instance, Whole Foods addressed the problem of “having a little too much fun over the holiday weekend” and solicited over 1,000 likes for their “recovery” cherry almond smoothie recipe post.

whole foods lifestyle tips Facebook

Whole Foods boosts engagement by sharing lifestyle tips.

2. Shower your fans with attention.

People like recognition and your fans will be more likely to engage your brand if they feel it could put them in the spotlight. Especially keep your eye out for people who actively promote your brand — or even solicit photos of fans who are willing to promote your brand in exchange for a little notoriety. For instance, Walmart makes a new seasonal cover image using photos of their fans.Here’s a recent one:

walmart Facebook

Feature your fans to let them know you care. Image Source: Facebook.com

3. Ask a compelling question.

Maybe it’s narcissistic, but everyone likes their thoughts and preferences heard. Encourage fans to share stories associated with your brand. Cater to your customers’ lifestyle preferences and give them an opportunity to display their individuality. For instance, Skittles received over 5,000 responses when they asked customers to describe “that awesome moment” when they open a pack of their candy.

skittle asks questions on Facebook

Ask questions to start a conversation. Image Source: SocialMediaExaminer.com

4. Try Fill-in-the-Blank posts.

Fill-in-the-blanks are fun, quick and easy. These work great surrounding holidays or special events. Using humor can also fuel many responses. Oreo received over 7,754 likes and 7,693 comments on this post that asked fans to describe how the product influences their day: oreo on Facebook

5. Run a photo caption contest.

Funny caption contest posts can be very inviting. Fans love to let their creativity shine! There’s even a Facebook app to make photo caption contests even easier to orchestrate. Check out this post from Inbound Zombie that garnered over 16,000 likes:

caption Facebook

Image Source: SocialMediaExaminer.com

6. Intrigue fans with quotes.

We post weekly inspirational quotes on our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. People who agree with the statement are sure to “like” your post, if nothing else. Be sure to make these posts visually engaging. Disney received 188,669 likes and more than 10,000 shares with this quote from their feature film, “Beauty and the Beast”:

disney shares a quote on Facebook

Disney shares a classic quote to connect emotionally with their audience.

7. Try a Like vs. Share vote vs. High Quality Content

Liking and sharing are easy ways to encourage engagement because it doesn’t require people to actually type anything. All they have to do is click… and how easy is that?! Walmart regularly uses Like vs. Share posts with a graphic featuring two different provocative options, along with a description telling fans how to participate: walmart Like Bait Facebook   But, don’t get too excited. Although this is a great way to get your viewers to take action, the Facebook algorithm updates show less of these type of posts because they do not consider these “high quality” content. We recommend testing these out but don’t overdo the “like this” and “share this” posts or you will see a drop in your engagement as Facebook won’t display them as often as your higher quality posts.

2013 Update:

News Feed FYI – Show More High Quality Content

Is the content genuinely interesting to your audience or is it trying to game the news feed distribution? Facebook breaks it down for you here.

2014 Update:

Cleaning up News Feed Spam: What it Means for Business

In an article from April of this year, Facebook explains why they aren’t huge fans of “like-baiting” which is what we showed you in the Wal-Mart example above. Obviously this tactic still works very well for brands but Facebook states: Focus on posting content that is relevant and interesting to your target audiences. It’s OK to encourage discussion about your posts’ content, but you should avoid asking for likes or shares to get more distribution.” Read the full article here.

Improve Facebook Engagement Without Ads

8. Post a news story relevant to your audience, but include personal analysis.

Invite people to agree or disagree with you by including some unique analysis, along with a pertinent news story. See how Fashion News got 20% more clicks: analysis Facebook Posts

As a bonus, we’ve included this infographic to get you thinking:

Facebook engagement infographic

Now that you have some direction moving forward, we wish you the best of luck in creating more engaging Facebook posts. If you need help, contact us for expert advice. Our team of social media professionals include Facebook marketing experts who are helping our clients maximize their Facebook marketing efforts.


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  1. Reply

    Hi Mandy,

    thank you for the mention. And thank you for some good advice. (I especially liked #7).

    Since I wrote that post on Facebook engagement rate, it certainly has become a whole lot more difficult to get Return on Marketing Investment on Facebook. So businesses out there are in need of some solid advice.

    Thanks again for the mention. I will look forward to read more of your interesting content.

    Regards from Denmark,

    Michael Leander

  2. Reply

    Great article! I have been frustrated with Facebook in recent months; sometimes I feel like I am talking to a empty room. Glad to hear it may not just be me, and instead that Facebook’s metrics were off. I hope integrating some of these tips might help my fan engagements. It is difficult in the nonprofit and education arena to get a lot of engagement over the fun and enticing industries, like automotive, fashion, food, etc.

    Thanks again!

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