In the earliest days of online life, the world was limited to text-only interactions. But the pace of technological advancement has been amazing these last 30 years. Now, many of us hold computers in the palm of our hands that are vastly superior to those early desk top units that squealed and screamed when connecting with another computer over a landline.
It was only a few years ago that watching a video online was frustrating, and posting a 30-second video required a thick manual, a ritual sacrifice, and the luck of the gods. Well… almost.
According to several studies, a plain text post now receives the least attention. In order for a post to grab eyeballs, at minimum it should have a picture attached. (A post no longer has to include text – it could be just a still picture, or even just a video clip, but we’ll get there in a few minutes.) This is why you might see a post on Facebook about almost any subject, and attached will be a picture of a pet, or a sunset, or a tree – something totally unrelated to the subject of the message. If you can get a person to stop and look at your picture, there’s a chance they’ll also read the text of your post.
The picture you add to your post doesn’t have to be a photograph. It can be a graphic – clipart, perhaps – with or without text in the image itself. It could also be all text, stylized in one or more interesting typefaces; you’ll often see those created for quotes. Whatever type of image you attach, try to make it directly related to your post. If you announce that your business now sells blue widgets, post a picture of a blue widget. Now taking appointments for plumbing visits? Show your workers in their best uniforms smiling as they step from a truck with your company’s logo on the side.
In between the still picture and a full-motion video is the “animated picture” – often a GIF (graphic interchange format) format image. These are still pictures arranged into “loops” a few seconds long, where the subject is often funny and/or shocking. The use of GIFs has changed drastically over the last few years, and I could write a whole dissertation on their use in personal posts. For now, we’ll just say that Facebook considers GIFs a category of still picture, and they’re attached the same way.
As I said a few minutes ago, your posts no longer need to include any text. If you’ve got what I call a self-contained image – with a picture, some explanatory text, and connection information – then post that by itself. FB also allows you to upload video clips, and the same goes for video posts. If you’ve got raw footage you’ve shot with your phone, you’ll probably want to add text explaining the context of the video, and adding any commentary you think necessary. Of you can post a fully-produced video, complete with an intro, closing credits, and mood music. Producing video clips for your business is a completely different subject. I tackle that in another series of articles.
The one type of medium that FB does not currently allow in posts is stand-alone audio. So if you’ve got an audio podcast, or an audio recording of a book or article you’ve written, you’ll have to produce it into a video clip in order to upload it. Again, the specifics of this are beyond the scope of this article, but the “video” can be as simple as a single still picture (or multiple pix chained together) taking up the image track, while the audio track plays. You can find these type of videos on YouTube, often created by home enthusiasts for songs where there’s no video recording of the artist.
Currently, the maximum file size for a video uploaded to Facebook is 1.75GB, which at HD format is a run-time of around 45 minutes. However, you should keep video posts as short as possible. You’re pushing it with videos longer than 30 seconds. Only people who are surfing FB to relieve boredom will watch videos longer than a minute, and you’d better have completely unique content that people feel will change their lives if you post a video with a run-time over 5 minutes.
Regardless of the media you use, any post you make on Facebook or elsewhere should have a specific intent – a set goal you want to accomplish. The message should be crafted using the principles of immediacy and scarcity when appropriate. Any time your post attempts to sell, or you ask a question, give the reader the contact info or link needed. In almost all posts, you should tell the reader exactly what you expect them to do once they’ve read the post, and give them any tools they need to do that.
11 best business post types, worst to best
11) Text-only post – long
10) Text-only post – under 25 words
9) Text post with unrelated still picture
8) Audio post with still picture
7) Text post with related still picture
6) Text post with self-contained image
5) Self-contained image, no text
4) Text post with raw video clip
3) Long (5+ min) fully-produced video clip
2) Medium (around 1 min) fully-produced video clip
1) Short (30 seconds) fully-produced video clip