Facebook and TwitterTo develop the insights for this guide, I watched 23 different Facebook and Twitter accounts for a period of three months and monitored over 2,865 status updates. I personally consider this a fairly small data set, but it is large enough to show some important trends that warrant consideration and further discussion.

As the clients that my firm writes for are in diverse markets, purchase different service engagement levels, and have unique starting levels of follower/fans, it is impossible to state from my data unequivocally how to specifically grow a social networking account. However, there are some statistical averages and trends that I have found and wanted to share with you.

The Timing and Consistent Posting of Your Updates on Twitter Can Grow Followers

Contrary to what has been published on the web in a recent statistical report I’ve found that for our clients, a unique time schedule for status updates and tweets works for most accounts to grow their follower numbers. To test this strategy, I had our writers schedule the publishing of content based on the following schedule trying each program for a full 30 days to see which made the biggest difference if any in follower and fan counts.

Widely Reported Best Twitter Posting Schedule:

For Twitter: 6 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. For Facebook: noon and 7 p.m.

After 30 days we posted content on a new schedule for Twitter:

For Twitter: 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. For Facebook: 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Here is a sampling of data for several of the accounts that I monitored:

Account New Users First Schedule New Users Second Schedule
Auto Sales +26 +42
Recreational Vehicle Sales +10 +39
Pest Control Business +35 +46
Citrus Grove Seller +11 +19
Recreational Vehicle +4 +14

Facebook Page

Although it appears that all accounts had increases using the second schedule, the variance in the full statistical data does not allow me to make such a blanket statement. Additionally, although I monitored both Facebook and Twitter accounts for this report, there were such small differences in Facebook numbers for many accounts that it is best to consider the second schedule best to use mainly for Twitter growth.

When I looked at the overall data, I found that followers grew at about a rate of 5% using the first schedule and grew on the average of 10% on the second schedule. Although not every account had the same growth and some accounts actually grew faster on the first schedule, the recommendations in this guide were based on overall average growth across all accounts.

It is important to note that although we used a very specific schedule unique to our needs, your results may be different. I feel personally that setting a schedule and being consistent about posting at the times you personally choose are important. You may want to test several schedules to see what works best for your audience.

The Changes Facebook Has Made That Have Impacted Business Pages

Facebook made some very big changes in the fourth quarter of 2011 that have impacted how businesses can use Facebook Pages and how they interact with fans.

As a quick review, here are the changes:

1. Facebook got rid of the ability to send a note out from your Business Page to all fans. The best feature to have a Business Page in the first place!

2. Removed tabs and the ability to do FBML markup pages. (You now have to use iframes).

3. Killed off the notes and discussion sections.

4. Removed the ability to auto feed your blog to your Facebook Notes Page.

5. Lowered the value of a like. No one needs to like your page to see your wall or to interact with you and post on your wall.

6. Changed the News Feed for personal profiles. People must now subscribe to your updates to be assured of seeing them in their News Feed. Now Updates are typically lost in the “noise” that is a part of the News Feed.

These are some very serious changes and have really strangled a business’s ability to connect with users on Facebook. As a result, these changes have caused fan growth for pages under 100 fans to come to a near halt.

I do not recommend that brands and businesses abandon Facebook. Business models change and what Facebook has done to kill off brand and business interaction will certainly change over time. For now, I personally feel that these changes were made to drive businesses into Facebook pay per click advertising before the Facebook IPO. As monetization of the Facebook platform is essential for their continued growth, these strategic changes most certainly have been made to force businesses to “pay to play” on Facebook.

I still feel that businesses should be on Facebook keeping a presence there, but maybe not in the same fashion as we recommended in early 2011.

The Reality of Facebook Follower Growth and Engagement Challenges

I started following our client Facebook accounts right when Facebook was altering the data it reveals on fans and their interaction levels. Again, I would not consider the data I have recorded as scientifically accurate, but I did see some trends on fan growth for pages with different starting levels of fans.

By Nancy McCord (c) 2012