How can you improve the reach and engagement of your Facebook posts? Deloitte Digital Senior Research Analyst Rebecca Fairchild provides some tips.

Social media platforms change algorithms frequently to show more interesting and relevant content to their users. Unfortunately, this creates a problem for people providing helpful or interesting information to their followers. If you manage a Facebook page, you may have noticed the reach or engagement on some of your posts decreasing lately. This article describes four Facebook trends the Deloitte Digital Insights and Audience/Engagement teams discovered over the past few months and how you can leverage your posts to keep them in front of your followers

1. Shorter isn’t always better.

The old heuristic of writing short posts may be hurting your engagement. In our analysis, the highest reach and engagement posts had 100 to 199 characters. The next set of top-performing posts had 200 to 299 characters. You may be surprised when you see an essay-style post with lots of likes and comments. What’s happening here? Although there is no strict character limit on Facebook, the platform does cut off text at a certain point with a “see more” button. Some Deloitte Digital community managers tested different post lengths to understand reader behavior. They found that instead of people scrolling past longer posts, the “see more” button actually provided another opportunity for engagement, thus increasing the reach and engagement.

2. Hashtags are still trending.

Facebook introduced hashtags in 2013, and using relevant, widely known hashtags can increase engagement. If your content is related to a major campaign or trending topic, make sure you include the associated hashtag. But custom or one-off hashtags have a difficult time gaining traction in the noisy world of social media and generally don’t increase the reach of a post.

3. Go silent.

Traditional audio videos receive less engagement than those with subtitles. At first this may seem counter-intuitive since most people don’t watch television with subtitles, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Think about when you’re scrolling through Facebook. Perhaps you’re taking a break at work or commuting home on a crowded bus. You aren’t likely to want the sound up unless you have headphones. This is a big deal since 85 percent of Facebook’s eight billion video views per day are sans sound (Digiday).

4. Photos tell a story.

Video posts have higher reach and engagement than those with photos, but this doesn’t mean pictures shouldn’t be used. If you analyze the type of photos used on your brand’s page, you will probably find a theme that resonates with your audience. For example, photos of the brand’s leadership or certain products may be the top performing posts. And link-generated photos receive higher reach than original photos. Infographics, on the other hand, had the lowest reach and engagement levels of all visual assets, so use these sparingly.

A few ideas have changed.

During our research, we also found some things that no longer work as well as they used to, so be thoughtful about when you use them.

Questions, which intuitively might seem to drive engagement, do not improve reach and engagement. Just because a question is in a post doesn’t mean people are more apt to like or comment on your post. You might also think that tagging another Facebook page broadens reach because you are including a new audience – that of the person tagged. However, our data found that page mentions did not increase reach or engagement

Test theories.

Social media platforms are constantly trying to improve, so you can’t rely on the above trends forever. Test these trends yourself and see how they affect your reach and engagement. Whether you realize it or not, each post has a number of levers that can affect your results. For this research, we analyzed 22 levers to see which had the biggest impact.

On a related note, don’t miss our recent post about how to take advantage of Instagram’s new algorithm here.

Rebecca Fairchild is a senior research analyst at Deloitte Digital in the Digital Business & Strategy practice. Rebecca understands audiences by conducting social media and user experience research. She holds a Master in Business Administration in marketing from Willamette University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University. Follow her on Twitter at @becca_fairchild.