5 Kinds of Facebook Updates and How to Use Each to Get Attention

We all know by now that we should be using social media for everything from branding to marketing and customer engagement. We also know that we should be approaching it from differing angles, signing up with multiple sites to take advantage of their features in a unique way. But despite the place of Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and others, Facebook remains the most talked about social media site.

Most of us are aware of the fundamentals of professional Facebook use. But that doesn’t help us when it comes to creating status messages, something that should make up a good chunk of your time spent marketing through the site. That is probably why it is so easy to find examples of pages doing it wrong.

There are about a dozen different types of Facebook status messages commonly used. But I have never found most of those useful in a professional context. Here are five that I think work best for catching user’s eye and getting shares and replies.

Kinds of Facebook Updates

1. Announcements

Some of the most commonly liked statuses that come from professional pages are announcements. These could be for a new product, a release, a special event, or drawing attention to something interesting and relevant that might have happened.

For example, I have seen smaller businesses using announcements to point out articles or reviews done about their company. Or larger companies announcing a sale or special that attracts a lot of customers. Brands like Dominos will often provide offers through Facebook that they will announce via status message, such as a free pizza with purchase. Which is a great tactic, especially for increasing profits with a quick boost.

2. Images

Sharing an image is an effective way of providing shareable content. Often people are more likely to repost an image, which will then show that you were the original source. Plus, it is a quick way to fill a posting quota for a social media campaign, and let other people’s content work for you while still providing the credit.

3. Mini Blogs

Once upon a time, facebook was a lot like Twitter. It limited its characters, allowing 160 per status and so effectively working as a microblogger. Now, we don’t have those restrictions at Facebook. Which is one reason that so many people prefer it for company pages. You can write a mini blog as either an introduction to a link, or just alone. It is informative, more likely to be read and gets a better point across than a quickie posted in a single sentence. You will see this a lot on non-profit or activist pages, especially. But I have also seen snippets of reviews for products using the same tactic. It’s also a great tactic to share something personal like travel experiences or plans.

4. Q&A

A simple way to engage customers is by getting them to respond to a question (especially a controversial one like this question for example). This is probably the most common of all tactics used by most businesses, and the success can be mixed. Sure, you are getting their attention. But you are also probably asking them something stupid, like what their favorite style of Dorito is. So it isn’t likely to leave a lasting impact on the person answering. These should be used along with other forms of status messages to work properly. More like catching their attention and letting other updates keep it.

5. Controversy

Dr Pepper ad

The tried and true method of social media engagement: controversy. This one is often done wrong, much to the chagrin of the company that has to scramble to boost PR. The trick is to let the users fuel the controversy for you, without saying anything offensive yourself. For example, a lot of companies over the last US election asked a simple question: Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? There is nothing inflammatory at all, but it would inevitably cause a firestorm of responses, many times fights breaking out in the thread.

Anyone who has seen tens of thousands of replies to a question like this knows the benefits. Another example of how you can toe the line is a recent Dr Pepper ad. Making a joke about evolution, it caused a ridiculous backlash that led to a ton of publicity. They never weighed in on the furious comments from the religious right, or the defenses of those backing the scientific theory. They never apologized or issues a statement. They just sat back and enjoyed the attention, until it died down.


Using social media, and Facebook in particular, is all about masterfully crafting the right communication and content to utilize the tool. The five status message types above are an easy way to get some attention, and boost your visibility. As long as they are done with the basic rules of marketing in mind.

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