The science of Facebook: Secrets of making your stuff shareable

What kinds of content do your Facebook fans like most? Is there a way you can word your Facebook status updates to make people more likely to click on your links and share with their friends?

Dan Zarrella, social media scientist

Dan Zarrella, social media scientist

There’s at least one guy out there who’s literally making a science of this. His name is Dan Zarrella, he’s got a developing/programming background and works for a software company. No “social media expert” fluff here: His assertions are based on specific, measurable criteria.

Zarrella recently offered a webinar called “The Science of Facebook Marketing.” And by “marketing,” he simply means, “How to get people interested in your Facebook stuff.”

You can replay the webinar at the link above; it’s an hour long. Or you can read Zarrella’s blog.

But I’ll provide a recap of his webinar’s main points here.

Think weekends: Facebook is a mainstream site. Your mom’s on it. Most people use Facebook during the weekend. Zarrella points out that 51 percent of U.S. companies block Facebook access in the workplace, plus most people just don’t have a lot of time to browse their friends’ posts during their workdays anyway.

An obvious strategy: Post a bit more of your Facebook content on the weekend, especially Saturdays. (But never bombard your fans with a string of too many posts in any one day, lest they hide or unlike you.) If something’s not breaking news, maybe save it for Saturday to post. If you like, you can use a service such as HootSuite (a free web-based application) to schedule weekend posts.

Post videos: People love to play and share videos on Facebook. If you’ve got a good video, post it. Make sure the word VIDEO is in the status update’s display type somewhere, or that it’s otherwise obvious.


Include numbers. For years, we’ve seen the same phenomenon on the homepage. People like to click on numbers. Put them in the headline/display type when you can. So, not just “Angry giraffes stampede minivan,” but “12 angry giraffes stampede minivan.” Not “Boca Raton man wins verdict against Home Depot,” but “Boca Raton man wins $23.9 million verdict against Home Depot.” (Interestingly enough, though, including numbers hurts Twitter sharing, Zarrella says.)

Be positive. People are more likely to share upbeat news on Facebook. (It’s not just Facebook, though. A study of New York Times’ most emailed articles showed people like to share emotional stories, especially those with a positive tone.)

Happy news isn’t necessarily what people most want to read – it’s just what they’re most likely to share with friends.

Keep it simple. The more basic and conversational the language you use in your Facebook status update and display type, the more likely it’ll get shared.

In fact, as Zarrella illustrates in a rather amusing graphic, the pinnacle to strive for in terms of Facebook shareability is a second-grade reading level. (By the way, simplicity is good advice for any display type and almost any writing in general.)


Use verbs. Find a way to include active verbs in your update. Avoid adverbs and adjectives; Zarrella did tests demonstrating these parts of speech make posts less shareable. But sticking with nouns and active verbs is a nice trick for keeping your writing simple, anyway.

What do you think of Zarrella’s findings? Have you noticed these or other trends in the popularity of the items you post on Facebook?


1 Comment

Filed under Social media, Twitter

One response to “The science of Facebook: Secrets of making your stuff shareable

  1. Pingback: The science of timing: When to post on Twitter and Facebook | Web Up the Newsroom

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