Facebook marketing in 2019 isn’t dead. On the contrary, it’s far from it.
Now removed from the dim outlook that businesses faced at the beginning of 2018, Facebook has and will remain an essential tool for brands’ marketing strategies moving forward.
In our upcoming State of Social Media 2019 Report (releasing January 16th) we found that 93.7 percent of businesses use and are currently active on Facebook — the most among any other social media network.
And although we continue to see a dramatic rise in the usage and effectiveness of Stories content, traditional posts in the Facebook News Feed offer a powerful outlet for brands looking to generate engagement and traffic.
Which is why we asked our friends at BuzzSumo to help us put together a massive data set looking at the top Facebook posts over the past year. In total, we dwindled down more than 777 million posts to 500 of the most popular, according to total engagements. The top 500 Facebook posts represent more than one billion engagements across Facebook.
Today we’re excited to share everything we learned about the most successful posts to help guide your Facebook marketing strategy in 2019.
Table of Contents
Let’s dive in!
Key takeaways from 777 million Facebook posts
BuzzSumo has access to some of the world’s most robust Facebook data, which powers lots of incredible research studies like this one where we analyzed content from 20,000 influential Facebook Business Pages.
They’re also the company behind one of my personal favorites, The 2019 Ultimate Guide to Facebook Engagement, an annual report that analyzes everything you need to know about the tactical side of Facebook marketing.
Needless to say, their product offers some eye-opening insights into the world of Facebook marketing.
Key takeaway #1: Video performs better than all other types of Facebook posts
When it comes to taking your Facebook strategy to the next level, there is no better way to do so than through the use of video content.
On average, video posts on Facebook get at least 59 percent more engagement than other post types.
In fact, when looking at what types of content made up the top 500 Facebook posts of 2018, more than 81 percent were videos!
Images only accounted for 18 percent of the top posts, while Links made up a mere 0.2 percent.
On the other hand (quite shockingly), link posts received 76 percent less engagement than videos on average. This includes links with images. In other words, not even images are helping link posts to perform better.
We’ll get into Facebook video themes and content later in this article, but for now, it’s clear that brands should be investing heavily in video content in 2019.
Key takeaway #2: The most common reactions to top Facebook video posts are LOVE and HAHA
You might be wondering why we chose to analyze the most common reactions to top Facebook posts.
Reactions give us a unique look into human psychology and a better understanding of “why” people like certain types of content on Facebook. Plus, it helps point us in the direction of what to create for our own brand in the future.
The reactions LOVE and HAHA made up 81 percent of the total Facebook video reactions in 2018 (Likes not included in the data set):
Clearly, people are interacting with content that they find inspirational, funny, or a mix of both (more on that next). Brands that focus on creating content around these emotions are more likely to produce successful content for their Page moving forward.
Though it’s important to note here that, more often than not, content isn’t necessarily loveable or funny to everyone. In other words, something that is “loved” by one person might be “funny” or even “sad” to another.
Which is great news for brands and B2B businesses because it means that content doesn’t need to be overwhelmingly funny or inspirational.
Brands and marketers just need to know what their audience will find personally entertaining, which starts with an understanding of who they are.
Key takeaway #3: Inspirational, funny, or practical content generates the most engagement
In order to hone in on the exact types of content brands and marketers should be creating more of in 2019, we attempted to categorize the types of content from the data set. In conjunction with the most common reactions on Facebook and a subjective analysis of the top 500 Facebook posts, three common themes started to emerge.
The most successful content could be categorized as inspirational, funny, or practical.
For example, the number one most successful post on Facebook in 2018 was one from speaker and storyteller, Jay Shetty:
Shetty accounts for several of the top 500 posts because he creates content that inspires people. Inspirational content leads to a greater amount of reactions, comments, and shares, which in turn, leads to greater organic reach.
The best part is that any brand is capable of creating this type of content. All it takes is a renewed understanding of what people are looking for on social media (specifically, your audience as we mentioned above) and how you can deliver that to them on a consistent basis.
Which leads us to a breakdown of some of the year’s most successful Facebook posts and the psychological reasons behind why they worked.
Four examples of the year’s most successful Facebook posts
In an attempt to make this study as relevant as we could to a variety of brands and industries, we decided not to simply cover the top 10 Facebook posts from 2018. Instead, we hand-picked several posts from the top 500 that teach us something valuable about the art of Facebook marketing.
But if you’re curious, here are the official top 10 Facebook posts of 2018:
Note: We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on why you believe these posts worked so well. Let’s help each other improve!
10. “An amazing moment in African enterprise history” – Strive Masiyiwa
9. “Hero Boy Saves Chicken” – Life Changing Videos
8. “When your dogs smells another dog on you” – Funny in Public
7. “Tianmen Mountain, China” – Inspire Uplift
6. “Common Dental Procedures” – Science Nature Page
5. “Wow” – Penoy Rap Radio
4. “Before You Take Someone For Granted Watch This” – Jay Shetty
3. “Scalloped Potato Roll” – BuzzFeed Tasty
2. “7 Super easy ways to keep your food fresher, longer!” – So Yummy
1. “Before You Feel Pressure Watch This” – Jay Shetty
Now, onto a more detailed breakdown of some of our favorites.
The Norfolk Police Department (Humanizing your brand)
You wouldn’t normally classify your local police department as having one of the best Facebook Pages and content of 2018, but the Norfolk Police aren’t your typical department.
Generating more than 3.2 million engagements and growing their audience to well-over 180,000 fans in the past year, the NPD is the perfect case study for how to approach Facebook marketing with limited budget and resources.
(Here’s the link to the lip sync challenge video, which has over 78 million views as of writing. The video can’t be embedded — likely due to copyrights of the music.)
Why it works:
The Norfolk PD offers a variety of inspiring and funny content that caters to their local community. And while they aren’t “selling fun” per se, they’re building a considerably large and loyal following with fun content.
Most importantly, the NPD makes their content relatable and human. In each one of their posts, you get a behind-the-scenes look at the officers and staff that make up their department. Then they take it to the next level with vulnerability.
It’s not easy to get in front of the camera. And it’s not easy to go out on a limb with experimental content, especially as a local police department. However, the NPD threw every traditional rule aside and decided to go for it.
In the end, they were rewarded for their efforts.
Brainy Crafts (Hacking your way into people’s hearts)
It wouldn’t be a top Facebooks posts of 2018 roundup without mentioning the wonderfully engaging world of “practical life and cooking hacks.”
Pages like BuzzFeed Tasty, 5-Minute Crafts, DIY Crafts TV, and lots more have taken full advantage of people’s unending desire to improve their lives in one form or another.
Here’s a great example from Brainy Crafts of how to hack your way to being more resourceful in the kitchen:
Why it works:
As we discussed earlier, “practical” or “how to” content makes up a significant majority of the top Facebook posts of 2018.
Educating your audience on Facebook isn’t just about teaching them a new skill, it’s about what they will do with that knowledge. More often than not, they’ll share it with their friends and family.
When Fast Company asked Tasty global GM Ashley McCollum why this type of content is so popular, she responded:
“We didn’t set out to build a food network. We didn’t sit in a conference room and say, ‘Oh, let’s do some market research.’ What we did is build content around the concept that people would share it with people in their lives. It’s not just how to make the recipe, how to chop the onion. It gives you a reason to reach out to your friend. It allows you to connect with another person.”
One simple suggestion to make this actionable is to repurpose your most-shared blog posts into a standalone Facebook video post.
For example, one of the most popular Buffer Blog posts of 2018 was “The New Facebook Algorithm 2018: Everything Marketers Need to Know” – We turned the text into a one minute explainer video that was viewed and shared more than 16,000 times.
The best part is it only took us about one hour to create since we already had the blog content to work from!
Strive Masiyiwa (Rise of the active CEO on social media)
One Page that accounts for a whopping 33 of the top 500 Facebook posts of 2018 isn’t a brand at all. It’s the Executive Chairman & Founder of the global enterprise Econet Group, Strive Masiyiwa.
Masiyiwa has racked up more than 3.5 million fans to his Page, ranks 437 among all Public Figures in the world, and generated 108+ million engagements to his posts in 2018.
And the most interesting part is that he’s done all of this through images and captions (not videos). A lot of his high ranking posts are more like micro-blogs, averaging well-over 300 words per caption.
Why it works:
According to data from OkToPost, only 40 percent of CEOs are active on social media. Of those users, 70 percent use LinkedIn only. However, this number is expected to grow significantly in 2019 as people turn to authentic sources of information.
In an era of distrust in the news, CEOs and other top executives have a unique opportunity to be more social. This can help boost your brand’s reputation and build trust among your users.
Finally, Strive Masiyiwa proves that video isn’t the only type of content that works on social media. But it’s important to note that in examining his content, every single post is extremely detailed and informative.
Funniest Family Moments (Curating the best content from around the web)
The Funniest Family Moments Page managed to snag 22 posts in the top 500, generating a total of 51,546,121 total engagements in 2018.
It’s incredibly simple to get started with curated content and the perfect way to supplement your in-house content strategy. Take, for example, Funniest Family Moments’ top post from 2018:
Why it works:
At its core, the post is nothing more than a compilation of videos from around the web. However, it has garnered more than 129 million views and five million engagements – and counting.
Content curation is all about finding and organizing existing content artifacts to create new insights and shared value for your audience.
If you can do that consistently, your audience will look to you as a continuous source of inspirational, funny, and practical content (there’s that theme again). Plus, curated content helps to establish your brand as a thought leader in your space. Instead of “talking about yourself” all of the time, you’re demonstrating that you’re willing to add value in different ways.
Incorporating these learnings into your Facebook strategy
Now that we’ve examined some of the top Facebook posts of 2018, you’re probably wondering:
How can I apply these tips to my own Facebook strategy?
Even if you’re not a top Page or generating millions of engagements per month, you can still find a ton of success on Facebook. In fact, it just might be the biggest opportunity for brands in the coming year!
We recommend following these three guidelines:
Consider your own behavior and posting habits on social media
Before reading this section, I encourage you to visit your own Facebook profile (plus a few family and friend’s profiles) and take mental notes on the type of content shared.
- Did you notice any trends?
- What types of content did you/they share?
At a high level, our personal Facebook profiles are our individual “story.” They are an ever-evolving record of our lives and interests. Most of all, they’re a direct reflection of who we are – at least who we want people to think we are.
As brands and marketers, we need to consider how to create content for Facebook that uniquely mirrors our audience’s stories and personalities. This requires constant experimentation and improvement to our marketing strategies. What works one day might not work the next as people are continually changing based on both internal and external factors.
“When the marketers move in, the members move out. The secret, therefore, to social media success is to act, and think, and feel, and behave like a member FIRST. A member first, and a marketer second.” – Mari Smith
There are tons of ways to find out exactly who your audience is and then tailor content around those specific demographics.
Perhaps the quickest and cheapest way to get to know your audience is through Facebook’s free tool: Audience Insights.
In less than five minutes I was able to find out that followers of the Buffer Facebook Page also follow pages such as Marketo, Moz, Hootsuite, as well as several others. I also found out that 37 percent of our followers are women between the ages of 25-34, 72 percent graduated from college, and four percent live in either San Francisco or New York.
From this data, I’m able to begin creating a list of content that our target demographic will find interesting. I also have the option of exploring similar Facebook Pages to see what content is resonating most with these folks and generating ideas from those themes.
There are lots of other ways to gather valuable data on your customers as well. Some of the most effective techniques we’ve used are:
- Customer interviews
- Social media posts
- Trade shows and conferences
- NPS scores
- Chat widgets like Drift or Intercom
Research, ideate, create, learn, and repeat.
Create content for Facebook that is both human and story-forward
Did you know that 84 percent of marketers believe that building trust will be the primary focus for their marketing efforts in the future?
That’s because consumers are looking for brands with a purpose – brands that are mission-driven and stand for something important.
Shallow marketing campaigns aren’t going to cut it in 2019. What will cut it are authentic, human-forward stories that allow your brand to connect with customers on a personal level. Smaller brands, in particular, have an opportunity to double or even triple engagement with this personal approach.
Take local shop Coffee Hub Xenia, for example. This simple video gave their community a behind-the-scenes look at the faces behind their brand as well as a why the business exists.
405 reactions, 221 shares, 63 comments, and 14,000 views aren’t too shabby for a Page with only 2,400 Likes. In looking at the comments, it’s clear that this video had an emotional impact on their audience as well.
This Facebook post didn’t succeed because of the production quality or gaming the Facebook algorithm, it succeeded because it told the inspirational story of a small business and the important part they play in their community.
Remember that effective storytelling involves a deep understanding of human emotions, motivations, and psychology in order to truly move your audience.
Play the long game by focusing on building an engaged community
Social media is changing right before our eyes.
Mobile usage, short attention spans, and the increasing influence of Millennials and Generation Z’ers on social media continue to pave the way for short-lived, in-the-moment content in 2019. It also highlights an effective social media marketing strategy: community building.
There has been a general trend towards niche and active groups on social media, with Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, leading the way to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
The challenge (and opportunity) is understanding the role social media plays in brand awareness vs. sales.
If you’re a Digitally-Native, Vertical Brand (DNVB), social media ads might be a critical piece of your overall acquisition strategy – as they should be! But if you’re also looking to grow your audience and engagement organically, then it’s worth investing the time and resources into building a community.
As Tarah Boyleston, marketing and design lead at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, explained to us in a recent interview:
“No one wants to follow a brand that is only trying to sell them something. We share personal stories, family recipes, and behind the scenes imagery of our lives at the bakery. These glimpses into the ‘life of a biscuiteer’ are free!”
That approach has allowed Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit to grow both on and offline.
The first step in building a community on social media is freeing yourself from always having a sales or traffic goal tied to each post. This will immediately help your content to be human and entertaining as people won’t feel like they’re being sold to.
The second step in community building is creating meaningful conversations and interactions with your customers. Ensure that every time they reach out to your brand on social media (or elsewhere) that you provide a memorable experience. This will increase the likelihood that these people share the positive experience with their friends.
And finally, the third step in community building is understanding that it’s a long journey to success. Growing your brand awareness doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen through a few posts or interactions. Real growth comes with consistency and providing your customers with a wonderful experience each time they come in contact with your brand.
Over to you!
Where do you think Facebook marketing is headed in 2019?
Are brands and businesses poised for success?
We’d love to hear what types of Facebook posts are working for your brand! We’ll gather each one of your tips and share them with the community in a big roundup.
Wishing you the best in the coming year!