This is part of a series on social media best practices for libraries in 2022. These posts include best practices for the following platforms:

These are the top platforms used by libraries according to a survey I conducted.

Facebook for libraries

Despite all the controversy surrounding Facebook, the platform continues to grow in total users, according to Data Portal. The United States has the second highest number of active users in the world. But for nearly all of my international readers, Facebook is much less popular.

Despite the growth in the overall number of Facebook users, the following statistics may cause you to rethink the way your library uses Facebook for promotion in 2022.

  • The number of Facebook users who log in daily dropped 8 percentage points this year to 66 percent.
  • In 2020, Facebook was the second most popular website in the world. But in 2021, YouTube surpassed them and moved into the #2 spot behind Google.
  • Internal documents that were part of United States Senate testimony in October reveal that use of Facebook is declining, particularly among younger people, and that Facebook hid that fact from investors and advertisers.
  • In a 30-day period, the typical adult Facebook user leaves only five comments and shares just one post.
  • The average reach of an organic post from a Facebook page is only 5.2%.

Libraries continue to focus resources on Facebook. But I think this may be the moment to rethink that strategy. I’ll talk more about that in this week’s episode of The Library Marketing Show, premiering Wednesday morning.

If your library decides to continue posting to Facebook, you’ll want to give your posts the best chance to reach and engage the widest audience. Here are the latest best practices.

The Facebook algorithm for 2022

Many library Facebook pages are experiencing lower organic reach on Facebook. This is happening because Facebook prioritizes posts made by individuals over the content made by pages.

In September, Facebook published its Content Distribution Guidelines. They have made it clear that they will prioritize posts that encourage people to interact on their platform. They will suppress the distribution of posts that include links that take users away from the platform.

That has big implications for libraries. Let’s say you promote a booklist on Facebook. You may post a graphic, some text, and a link to your website or catalog. According to the distribution guidelines, Facebook will purposefully suppress the reach of that post because you are directing people away from Facebook.

In addition, the following ranking signals will impact your library’s success on Facebook. These are the factors the algorithm takes into account when it decides where to put your library’s posts in your follower’s feeds… or whether it shows your posts to your followers at all!

  • Comments and likes
  • Content from your library page that is shared by Facebook users, both in the feed and in Messenger
  • Replies to comments specifically on videos
  • If the post is informative as opposed to purely promotional
  • The newness of your post

With all of that in mind, here are four things you can do to work within the constraints of the algorithm.

Focus on creating quality video posts.

Facebook says they “want videos that are actually videos.” They will penalize your library if you post a video montage of still images and text. So, when you post a video to Facebook, make sure it mostly consists of moving shots.

Facebook recommends two video lengths for optimal reach.

  • For storytelling and livestreaming, create videos that last three minutes or longer.
  • For teasers, announcements, or to share fun or interesting moments at your library, keep your videos to less than 60 seconds.

Here’s a great example of a short announcement video on Facebook.

Here are some suggestions to maximize the reach of your Facebook videos.

  • Hook viewers within the first three seconds of the video. Consider starting videos with action or a person speaking and then going to your title graphic, rather than starting with the title graphic.
  • Make sure your library’s branding is recognizable in your videos.
  • Frame your videos for vertical scrolling.
  • Most Facebook users who interact with video do so on a mobile device. Keep that small screen in mind as you shoot and edit. Use a lot of close-ups, faces, and bright colors. If you add text, make sure it’s large enough and clear enough to read on a small screen.
  • Include captions whenever possible. Facebook will auto-generate captions for you, but you’ll need to check them for accuracy. People often watch videos without sound, so having captions will ensure your content is understandable.
  • Ask people to take a specific engagement action in your videos. For instance, if you post a book review, ask your viewers, “Did you read this book? Do you agree with my review? Click like, love, or angry to let me know what you think. Or leave a comment.”
  • Use the reaction buttons to conduct a poll of your viewers.
  • Specifically ask your viewers to share your videos.
  • Give your video an accurate and meaningful title. Think about the search terms someone might use to find your video and use them in your title.
  • Video thumbnails are important on Facebook, just like they are on YouTube. Give your videos an eye-catching thumbnail.

Encourage your staff to share posts from your library page.

The algorithm gives more weight to posts that are shared by real people. So, ask library staff to share posts from your library page.

For instance, if a staffer is working on an event, they may be tempted to write their own post to tell their friends and family about it. But ask them to share your library’s post about the event instead.

Post to Facebook stories.

Stories aren’t part of the Facebook newsfeed, so the algorithm rules don’t apply to them. And Facebook gets over 500 million daily viewers on Stories.

If your library posts to Instagram stories, you can choose to share the same content on Facebook stories. This is a great way to get the most out of limited time and resources.

Normally I don’t recommend cross-posting across platforms. This is the exception, and I’m making it for two reasons.

For most libraries, the audiences who consume Instagram and Facebook stories are different, so people won’t be seeing the same content on both platforms.

Facebook will give you an extra organic boost for using both of their platforms.

South Charleston Public Library posts to Facebook stories regularly.

Test Your Facebook posts.

For years, library social media managers have been playing a guessing game when it comes to posts. Some did well and some flopped, and it was often hard to figure out why.

But now Facebook has a new feature that lets you test your posts to see if they’ll resonate! This, I admit, is the coolest and best thing they’ve done in the last year.

Here’s how to conduct a test.

  • Open your page in Creator Studio.
  • Select “Post Testing” in the Content Library Menu.
  • Select the post types you want to compare.
  • Choose a metric and a testing duration.

When the testing period ends, Facebook will automatically distribute the best post. You can end the test early if you see a clear winner and want to take advantage of it.

How often and when to post on Facebook

The latest stats show that one post per day on Facebook is best. Engagement drops by as much as 50 percent for pages that post more than once a day. If you’re really crunched for time, post to your page no less than three times a week.

There is no consensus from any of the experts on the best day and time to post on Facebook. In general, most suggest posting during the workday and advise staying away from weekends.

So the most practical thing to do is to check the insights on your library’s Facebook page. Post when you notice your followers are engaging most often with your content.

You should check insights once a month to make sure the optimal time and day of the week to post for your followers haven’t shifted.

How much text should be in a Facebook post?

Short posts get better reach on Facebook. The idea post length is 50 characters or fewer. That’s not much text to work with. I recommend you do some testing to see how your specific audience reacts to posts with different text lengths. 

Facebook image best practices

The recommended upload size for a static image is a square image, 1200 by 1200 pixels. If you work in aspect ratios, Facebook recommends your feed images be 1:1

For Facebook story graphics, use a template with a 9:16 aspect ratio.

If you’re doing a carousel of several images, Facebook says you should make sure they are all the same size and aspect ratio.  

Tracking metrics on Facebook 

The metrics of your library’s Facebook page can be viewed by anyone who is an admin on the page. Here’s how to find insights on your library’s page.

  • From your new feed, click on Pages in the left menu.
  • Go to your page.
  • Click on Insights in the left menu.

Or if you have Business Suite, simply click on Insights.

From there, you’ll have all the information you need to measure your page’s performance, including the demographic makeup of your audience and engagement metrics. You can export that data for better tracking.

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