Two women in pantsuits sitting at a table outdoors on Fountain Square in Cincinnati in the 1970s, selling books.
Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

This is the second installment in my series on social media best practices for libraries in 2023.

The guide to LinkedIn can be found here. In the next few weeks, I’ll cover TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter (maybe!). These are the top platforms used by libraries according to the 7th annual Super Library Marketing Reader Survey.

Facebook for libraries

Facebook remains the single most popular social media platform for libraries. 90 percent of the library staff who responded to my survey said they use Facebook to promote their library.

And that makes sense. According to Statista, Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world, with more than two billion users. 77 percent of Canadians, 71 percent of Americans, 66 percent of United Kingdom residents, and 53 percent of Australians have a Facebook account.

So, Facebook has lots of users. But is Facebook popular, particularly with the audiences your library is trying to reach? Here are some statistics to consider from Datareportal.com and SEMrush.

  • For Millennials and Gen Z, Facebook is the least popular platform. These two age groups include everyone ages 41 and younger. That is a huge portion of your library community.
  • Of all active social media users ages 16 to 64 worldwide, only 14 percent say Facebook is their favorite social media platform.
  • 67 percent of Facebook users log in daily.
  • Most Facebook users say they go to Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family and to post or share photos and videos. Only half of Facebook users are looking for brand or product content on Facebook.
  • An overwhelming majority of Facebook users (98.5 percent) prefer to access the platform using a mobile device.
  • Facebook remains the third most popular website in the world. Google and YouTube are more popular than Facebook.

Note: Facebook stopped sharing broad statistics of user engagement. That means I can no longer report the average number of post likes, comments, and shares made by the typical user.

The Facebook algorithm for 2023

Here are the ranking signals Facebook uses to decide who sees your posts.

  • Post quality: According to HubSpot, each Facebook post is assigned to one of four categories: meaningful, informative, accurate, or authentic. I suggest you put those four words on a piece of paper and stick it next to your desk. Try to make every Facebook post from your library fall into one of those four categories.
  • Content type: Facebook pays attention to the content a user likes and serves them more of what they engage with. So, if people like your videos, Facebook will show them more of your videos. If they like your blog posts or photos, Facebook will show them more of your blog posts and photos. The danger here is that your content can get siloed. For example, you may end up having fans who only see your blog posts and never your videos or event posts.
  • Your library’s Facebook connections: Facebook will show your content to the people and pages that your library interacts with.
  • Engagement level: Facebook will share your library’s posts with a wider audience if they receive a lot of likes, shares, and comments in the first few hours.

Here are four ways to get the best organic reach for your library’s Facebook posts in 2023.

Ask for engagement and reply quickly.

By the end of 2023, about 40 percent of the content a Facebook user will see will come from pages that he or she does not follow, according to public statements made by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.

That’s great news for libraries. Your content may be shown to non-library users and fans! The main focus of your Facebook strategy must be to boost the engagement rate for each post to increase your chances of being seen by non-followers. The easiest way to do that is by engaging with your audience.

Ask specifically for people to comment on your library’s posts. The algorithm LOVES comments, so your posts will get more visibility if you can get people to engage in this way.

Mansfield Richland County Public Library used a giveaway to spur comments. They were rewarded with great engagement, which boosts their organic reach.

When people comment on your posts, reply to each comment as soon as you can. You’ll be rewarded because Facebook will notice the conversation. It will view your post as “popular” and will start to show it to a wider audience.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County Library responds to questions about their MakerSpace.

Post original video content to Facebook.

Facebook’s parent company Meta says the most effective way to get your library’s videos seen in the feed is to make sure you are posting original content.

Don’t export content or links from other apps and then upload them to Facebook. If your library is creating short-form video content, edit those videos in an app like Clips, InShot, or iMovie. Then upload the video to Facebook.

This is an important change to note: You should not export your videos from TikTok or Instagram and then post them to Facebook. This is true, even though Meta owns Facebook and Instagram. I cannot find an explanation as to why the algorithm is set up this way specifically for videos, but nonetheless, that’s the constraint within which we must work.

Likewise, don’t share a link to a library video on Facebook from another platform like Vimeo or YouTube. Upload videos natively to Facebook. You’ll get more reach because Facebook considers Vimeo and YouTube to be competitors. Sharing links from those platforms will trigger Facebook’s algorithm to suppress your post reach.

Posting videos natively to Facebook is a great tactic to expand your organic reach. That’s because Facebook videos get 135 percent more organic reach than images. 

Example: The University of Toronto’s University College Library posted this video natively to Facebook. It was clearly made for TikTok or Instagram but, instead of posting a link to those platforms, they uploaded the edited version to Facebook. They were rewarded with thousands of views and tons of engagement.

Cross-post feed content from Instagram to Facebook

Although the Facebook algorithm penalizes accounts for cross-sharing videos, you can share your other Instagram feed posts to Facebook. This is a great option for small libraries with staff or time shortages.

When you go to publish content on Instagram, toggle the Recommend on Facebook option. You can set your Instagram account to share all posts, or you be more selective.

One note: If you cross-post, some editing will still be required.

  • If you post from Instagram to Facebook, and you’re directing people to a link in your Instagram bio, you’ll need to go to the Facebook version of your post. Edit the post to take out the “link in bio” reference. Include the direct link in the Facebook post.
  • If you post from Facebook to Instagram, go to the Instagram version of your post. Copy the link and add the words “link in bio” to the caption. Then put the link in your bio, using Linktree.

Use analytics to determine the best content for your Facebook posts.

Use Creator Studio to help you build your editorial calendar for your Facebook posts. The analytics on Facebook will help you decide what kind of content is most appealing to your audience. Here’s how to do that:

  • Go to Creator Studio.
  • Open the Published panel.
  • Check the Post Type: All tab to review analytics for your content.
  • Use the filters to check the engagement of your posts by type of content and where it was shown.

When you figure out which posts work well for your library, you’ll want to create more of those types of posts.

Auburn Public Library created fun content for “Dinovember” and got great engagement all month long.

How often and when to post on Facebook

The latest stats show that posting at least three times a week is most effective for engagement. Create a consistent schedule that works for your library and stick to it.

To determine what time of day you should post, use the post composer in Business Suite. Here’s how to do that:

  • Open the Planner tab.
  • Click Create a post.
  • Before you publish, select Schedule and then Active Times to see when your audience is most likely to be engaged on Facebook.
  • Schedule your post during those time frames.

How much text should be in a Facebook post?

Research from experts on this one is mixed. Some studies suggest you keep your post to 50 characters or less. But in my work with libraries, I find that posts between 100 and 259 characters perform best.

Facebook image best practices

The recommended upload size for a static image on Facebook is 1,080 x 1,350 pixels. If you work in aspect ratios, Facebook recommends your feed images be 4:5

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

The easiest way to view insights is for your page to be in professional mode. Here’s how to do that:

  • Go to your library’s profile.
  • Below your profile header, select the menu button (…) on the right side.
  • Select Turn on professional mode. From there you can see an overview of your insights.
  • Or you can select See more insights to go deeper into your data.

You can also use Business Suite to view your 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 from Business Suite for long-term tracking.


More advice

Spending Library Money on Social Media: The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Promotional Ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Facebook Disabled This Library’s Page! What You Can Learn From One Librarian’s Fight To Get Back Online

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