The Social Side of College Admissions

The 500 Most Engaging Facebook Posts of 2012

January 21, 2013

This is the third post in our 4-part series A Look Back at 2012.

We wanted to focus one of the posts in this series on the best of the best, those posts that generated the highest level of engagement among fans. We took a closer look at the 500 most engaging posts from the entire pool of 236,060 posts for which we calculated an Engagement Score.

Top 500 Posts by Media Type – Photos a Clear #1

Of the 500 most engaging posts, the large majority (74 percent) contained photos. We've emphasized in our blog a number of times the power of photos to foster engagement. They tend to stand out in the minimalist design of Facebook's Newsfeed, and we believe they are given greater weighting in Facebook's EdgeRank formula, which determines what you see in your Newsfeed.

Top 500 Posts by Media Type

Top 500 Posts by Content Type – Photos, Sports Scores, and Announcements, Oh My!

As we've done in the past, we tried to categorize each post into a Content Category. We saw a lot more sharing of photos this year – a beautiful picture of campus or a fun / whimsical picture of a mascot or fan. We saw a significant decline in the use of contests to generate engagement. This is probably a good sign since many of these were probably in violation of Facebook's policy for promotions and sweepstakes.

Top 500 Posts by Content Type

Content Types

Photo—A post where the photo itself is the primary purpose of the post (e.g., photo of campus, an event, or alumni), not a supporting piece of content for the text
Announcements / News / Shout-Outs—Announcing upcoming events, achievements by faculty or alumni, important dates, or general news about the university
Score / Result / Pre-Game—Relating to a school's athletic teams, whether it was a score, an upcoming game, or a big win over a rival
Stat / Fact / Ranking—Highlighting a school's inclusion in a ranking list (e.g., US News) or sharing a fun fact / infographic about the school
Contest—Offering a prize if fans like or post a comment
Question—Posing an open-ended question or a prompt ("Tell us your favorite...")
Video—Sharing a video
Weather / Closure—Alerting students to important weather updates or to the school's status as open or closed due to inclement weather
Miscellaneous—Catch-all for posts that did not neatly fit into one of the other categories

Some Top Posts Worth Sharing

We pulled out a few examples that we thought were worth sharing. Hopefully, these will help you as you try to boost the engagement on your institution's own Facebook Page.

Tap into Your Institution's History and Bring Back a Photo from the Archive

Smith College dug into its photo archive to find this black-and-white photo from 1931. They even had a little fun with the caption.
Smith College post

Court a Little Controversy or Debate

This post is a little riskier, soliciting the reaction of fans on the results of the US Presidential election. If you page through the comments, you'll see some heated posts. This strategy is not for the faint of heart.
University of Denver post

Highlight a Sports Achievements and Make it Worth Sharing by Adding a Picture

Unfortunately, we can't all have a Heisman Trophy winner to post about. What we really like about this post by Texas A&M, though, is that they created a quality graphic to go with it. Look how many shares this post had! I bet if they'd just written a status update with the same text, it would not have generated as many shares.
Texas A&M post

Make a National Story Relevant

Morehouse College didn't just post "Go Out and Vote!" They made a national news story relevant to their audience by sharing a post of students in line at the polls.
Morehouse College post

St. Lawrence University marked the anniversary of 9/11 in a more meaningful way for its audience by sharing the names of alumni lost in the tragedy along with a photo of their annual commemorative tradition.
St. Lawrence University post

Showcase a Beautiful Picture of Campus

We're seeing more and more of this on college and university Facebook Pages. So many institutions have beautiful buildings on campus that make great backdrops for photos, especially if the lighting and weather are right. These two photos from Colorado College and Miami of Ohio are both postcard-worthy. No surprise that both generated lots of shares.
Colorado College post
Miami University post

Solicit Their Opinions

A tried and true way to get your fans to comment... just ask them to share their opinions. Northern Arizona asks for feedback on a graphic for their mascot Louie the Lumberjack, while Saint Vincent College encourages fans to share their favorite professor.
Northern Arizona University post
Saint Vincent College post

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