Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

5 Facebook Rules Retailers Need To Know

10 Cool Social Media Monitoring Tools
Slideshow: 10 Cool Social Media Monitoring Tools

(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Retailers trying to win business on Facebook can win more of it by offering a coupon, or specific dollar-off deal, posting it on a Wednesday, and keeping the post brief.

Buddy Media, one of the leading content management services for Facebook, came up with those recommendations and more from a statistical review of what its customers have been posting and the results they've obtained. Retailers make up about 30% of Buddy Media's customer base, second only to consumer packaged goods companies, VP of communications Joe Ciarallo said in an interview.

Buddy Media built the study around three metrics:
-- 'Like' Rate: number of 'likes' on a post as a percentage of the fanbase;
-- Comment Rate: number of Comments as a percentage of fanbase; and

-- Engagement Rate: a combination of the above factoring in fanbase size.

Here is some of what they found:

1. Wednesday is the day to post. Although retailers publish evenly throughout the work week, engagement rates spike on Wednesday, 8% above the average engagement rate. Ciarallo said Sunday came up as the top day for retail in the last study Buddy Media conducted, in April. However, the category was defined somewhat more broadly in that study, for example including fashion retailers whose products are sold at retail but are not retailers themselves.

With the focus narrowed to retailers only, both online and brick-and-mortar, Sunday ranked as the second most effective day to post, with Wednesday coming out on top.

2. Don't post more than twice a day. Facebook users engage 40% more when fewer than three posts a day are made from a given brand. Retail brands who post less than three times a day receive 32% more likes and 73% more comments.

The lesson here is to not overwhelm fans of the brand with spam, instead posting just enough to keep them interested and engaged. Along the same lines, the data suggest not posting more than four times per week. A steady diet of one to four posts per week produces 71% more user engagement than a more aggressive onslaught of posts, according to the study.

3. Short posts work best. Posts with 80 characters or less receive 66% higher engagement.

"Keep it short and sweet," Ciarallo said.

4. Questions get fans talking. Readers are more than twice as likely to comment on posts containing questions as on non-question posts. Ciarallo said the effectiveness of question posts is widely recognized, "but I didn't think it would be twice as high."

5. The word 'coupon' and specific dollar-off deals work magic. A post that offers $5 off, or any specific discount, attracts 55% higher user engagement, and posts with the word "coupon" perform 39% better than average. More generic retail jargon like "sale" or "bargain" doesn't do nearly as well.

Mentioning a dollars-off discount also works much better than offering a percentage off. In other words, don't make people do the math, tell them what they're going to save. Posts including percentage off offers were among the worst performers in the study.

The full report is available for download and Buddy Media has also scheduled a webinar on the results.

Attend Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara, Nov. 14-17, 2011, and learn how to drive business value with collaboration, with an emphasis on how real customers are using social software to enable more productive workforces and to be more responsive and engaged with customers and business partners. Register today and save 30% off conference passes, or get a free expo pass with priority code CPHCES02. Find out more and register.