Among the weirdness Facebook's existence has loosed upon the world is the idea that it's OK, and perhaps even good business, for brands to sidle up and give you verbal balm for your case of the Mondays, ask for predictions on the big game and offer random thoughts on things that have not a whit to do with their product or service.
The touchy-feely strategy is meant to be conversational -- human, even. But new data from Facebook itself tell us that what looks good on the social-media guru's presentation deck isn't the best approach for making Facebook work for the brand.
Facebook recently ran a monthlong study that looked at more than 1,200 posts from 23 brands. After tagging each post for various attributes, the measurement team plugged them into a quantitative model that turned out to be quite effective at predicting which posts will yield more engagement in the form of likes, comments and shares.
"By far, the biggest predictor of engagement was that the post was on a topic relevant to the brand," said Sean Bruich, head of measurement platforms and standards at Facebook. "It impacts everything, from lightweight likes to more invested shares. It's actually one of the most important things a brand can do. People are seeing the content because they liked the brand, and it makes sense that content about the brand will get them engaged."
Despite this evidence, Facebook isn't explicitly telling marketers to ditch their most purely conversational posts. "In general, unrelated posts are not predictive of increased engagement," said Mr. Bruich. "That being said, we're not arguing against those types of posts being a nice change of pace. "