Viral Facebook Page Posts 101

Since early 2013 Facebook has made changes to the ‘algorithm’ that determines what content actually makes it into a user’s feed. I’m assuming you knew that. This had a drastic, if not overnight, effect in January 2013 when the average views a non-promoted post from a page halved from around 30 percent of page likes to around 13 percent on average! Ouch.

I believe this is probably a good thing for the future of Facebook although it may have left a sting to page owners who depend on the platform as a major revenue building channel.  Without going into the details too much, Facebook ‘curates’ what posts make it into a user’s timeline in an effort to; (a) keep them on the site so that they can (b) serve them ads and make money. It’s a good thing because I think it will increase the quality of posts because pages will have to be more creative and push higher quality content. The downside is that it may eventually lead to more paid posts in user’s feeds. We’ll see.

The one type post that will go viral on Facebook

Pictures of me. No, not pictures of me as in me…Vince. I mean pictures that users see and think; “That’s so me“. Or in some cases, pictures that they are actually in (or think they are in). Images, by far, give you the best chance to hit a larger segment of your page likes and beyond; there isn’t much debate there. Links are getting hammered on by Facebook because they send people away from Facebook so they’re not going to give you much exposure there. Videos (uploaded into FB vs. linking up YouTube etc) do okay but as more and more Facebook traffic is on mobile devices users are watching (and sharing) less videos.

That’s so me

Here’s an example of an image that went ‘viral’ that we played on a pretty new page I manage for my cycling team here in Austin. Viral meaning that it garnered (as of today) views that were 25 times the number of page likes. It is the quintessential ‘that is so me’ image. The shares go nuts for this type of picture, especially when its targeted well; in this case to cyclists.


A photo of ‘me’

This image is of an event where we gave everyone in the auditorium glow sticks to hold up all at the same time. The event took place three times and this photo is of just one of them. Because users were there and ‘in’ the picture they shared it en masse. That’s the key to getting more views; leveraging the influence of users sharing the content on their timelines. People like to share pictures of themselves, its kind of the whole point of Facebook in the first place.


You can start right now with the ‘that’s so me’ image targeted at your page’s niche and moving forward, build in a workflow to actually get images of your fans.

Social Media Reset

Man drawing a game strategy

From time to time it’s nice to take an inventory of what I’m using in terms of social media, what’s working and what’s not. I want to make sure I maximize my time and put the right content in the right place. Here’s a look at what I’m using currently in terms of platforms and tools.


Twitter is still my main social media channel above all others. It’s a non stop cocktail party that remains the most real time social network out there. I use it to connect with colleagues, expand my network and share with friends.

Twitter Tools

Tweetdeck is my main weapon on twitter. I read and compose on my computers on it. I manage several accounts and generally consume via a few lists. I don’t often flip through the column of everyone I follow. I’m using the last version of actual Tweetdeck from before Twitter took over and made changes I didn’t like.

Very similar to the old Tweetdeck on Android which is why I now use it since the old Tweetdeck has been mothballed by Twitter.

Connect with me on Twitter


Still primarily a connect point for people I already know. I’ve started to ramp up personal activity on Facebook. Last year when they changed how viewable items were based on content type and where the post is generated I found I was getting the best results by posting directly on the site or in the official Facebook app on my phone.

Connect with me on Facebook


This has started to grow on me. As a photographer with a formal training I keep this one focused on the images. I don’t follow people who use it as a life stream with pictures of their kids, dogs and ‘inspiring quotes’.

Connect with me on Instagram


This is my cycling stream. I post cycling specific content and follow cycling Tumblrs. I mostly just use the website as well as tell Instagram to post there when it’s a cycling photo.

Connect with me on Tumblr


I’m loving Spotify! It’s definitely a game changer. It’s also a lot more of a social network than people give it credit for. I have started to kick it up a notch by following specific people, curating great playlists and even opening some up to be editable by my friends. The premium version is more than worth the ten bucks a month.

Connect with me on Spotify


Strava was launched primarily as a cycling site where you upload your ride data and ‘compete’ against other riders on the same segments of road and trail. They’ve since added the ability to load up running data and other sports. I even uploaded a skateboard session. I’ve found it to be much more social than some of the other similar apps out there. I’ve connected with people I didn’t previously know and have connected for bike rides with them. Really cool.

Connect with me on Strava


Foursquare is my go to for finding places to go. I tend to only check in at interesting places rather than every single place I go. I check in at my favorite restaurants, stores and businesses in an effort to have my check-ins mean something.

Connect with me on foursquare

The outsiders

MySpace launched a new site a couple months ago. I signed up. I don’t quite get it but I’ll check in from time to time to see if it can have any use. I have yet to work Google+ or LinkedIn into my stable of social media mainly because I can’t find a use for them yet.

Stop Talking About Social Media

Being in the field that I’m in and having the friends, colleagues and network that I have, there are a lot of people around me who are flat out experts in social media. It’s created a really cool journey and an inside look at a lot of really amazing ideas over the last 5 years; but I think it’s time to move on.

Clay Shirky, in his book Here Comes Everybody, says:

“Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring….It’s when a technology becomes normal, then ubiquitous, and finally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen…”

I would like to think that, at the early adopter level, we have gotten to this point but there are still enough ‘early adopters’ out there still making so much noise about ‘Social Media’ itself that we are stunting the growth of the top part of the bell curve. If we are going to pull culture along and lead them to the place that we have all discovered, which is the position of ubiquity that new media has in our live’s as early adopters, we need to act like it is pervasive and ubiquitous so that it truly becomes so.

Every time we do another blog post on 101 level social media ideas and strategy we stunt the growth of people who might otherwise be much farther down the road. Every time we try to convince our teams to adopt more social channels we turn them off and keep them out of the game. Every time we do another seminar on social media we slow down progress.

So stop talking about social media and just let it become the norm.

The Week Long Sermon

The sermon…it’s come quite far since Jesus stood on the ‘mount’ and delivered a timeless message. I believe the current format in which we execute a ‘sermon’ is fairly well broken. The job a pastor hires a sermon to perform in 2012 is the same as in 1912 or 1812 yet the sermon format is having less and less effect on culture. Jesus could more or less start a riot with an eight minute illustration yet the average pastor can’t get 100 people to change their behavior after 40 minutes of multi-media supported exposition.

Maybe 40 minutes isn’t long enough? Earlier this month my ‘sermon’ at Gateway Church was a week long! Let me break it down for you. Continue reading The Week Long Sermon

Twitter is Your Coffee Shop & Facebook is Your Living Room

I have this conversation often:

Me: “Are you on Twitter?”

Them: “No; I’m already on Facebook

Every time I have this conversation an angel gets it’s wings…clipped.

It does go the other way…although less often. There are Twitter users who are above using such blue collar social networks like Facebook.

Truth is, when done right, Facebook and Twitter are very different spaces and it is my opinion that if you want to rock at social media you need both.

I’ve shared this analogy with a lot of people and even mentioned it in a post or two. Continue reading Twitter is Your Coffee Shop & Facebook is Your Living Room


I have the conversation literally every week. In the conversation I usually hear a line not unlike this:

“People don’t know how to interact in real life any more.”

…or some similar phrase. I undersand where people are coming from and I believe, based on the information that has been presented to them, they have a valid reason and a solid case for having these feelings. These thoughts are usually formed by a diet of To Catch a Predator episodes with a side of cultural disconnection. This is backed up by ‘studies’ and news stories that want to diagnose ‘Internet addiction’. I think there is valid evidence for this I just think we need to get past it.

Most of all I think people have these feelings because this has all happened so fast. It wasn’t until the late 90s that the internet started to get traction in America and it was around 2002 MySpace started to get serious momentum. Even then there were a whole lot of people that had no idea what MySpace even was. I would mark the year as 2007 when Social Media really got traction in culture most¬†notably¬†with the explosion of Facebook. That was just 4 years ago!

And to to think that it took 40+ years for our society to find a way to get in 20 hours of TV watching every week; we did the same with Social Media in 4 years.

I firmly believe that we are past this and that the conversation is all but over. I think in the short time that ‘Social Media’ has been pervasive western culture has come a long way in terms of education and integrating it into every day life. As our culture learns to use the tools of the internet to make life better it becomes precisely just that; a tool.

Facebook is not a community

The mistake we make now is to classify Facebook (or any other media channel) as a community which is categorically wrong. These are simply just tools just like a phone, a mailbox or email. This attitude propagates that false sense of it being an alternative to real life when in fact it is not; it is simply another way to share information with other humans.

I have more or less given up on trying to convince people that they need to get in the game, they’re just going to have to figure it out themselves.

Social Media Gurus

So you’re a social media guru (I tell myself that’s who reads my blog); here’s my plea to you: Let’s stop doing workshops on introductions to social media. Lets stop writing how to blog posts on 101 level social media stuff.

Rather; here’s what we should do: Move forward. Keep using the tools and pushing the technology forward and eventually it will become the norm to the masses. If we keep going back to the starting line to pick up¬†stragglers¬†then we will never be able to blaze new trail and we become stagnant ourselves.

My church is behind the times so is Time magazine

I hear it all the time from people I consult and work with.

Guess what, you’re not the only one in that position. So is my church. So are the churches that you look to as thought leaders.

So is time magazine!

Maybe I’m wrong and I’m going to get flamed for it, but I think if Mark Zuckerberg deserves person of the year it was 3 or 4 years ago not this 2010. Facebook did the work a few years ago that we are now seeing.

Or maybe it’s a lesson in the long tail.

You need Facebook and Twitter

I have this conversation often:

Me: “Are you on Twitter?”

Them: “No; I’m already on Facebook

Every time I have this conversation an angel gets it’s wings…clipped.

It does go the other way…although less often. There are Twitter users who are above using such blue collar social networks like Facebook.

Truth is, when done right, Facebook and Twitter are very different spaces and it is my opinion that if you want to rock at social media you need both.

I’ve shared this analogy with a lot of people and even mentioned it in a post or two.

Twitter is your coffee shop

At the coffee shop you connect with both people you know already and people you don’t know in a public space.

Twitter is quite the same. You will most likely initially connect with people you already know and then be introduced to people you don’t know and eventually make your own connections.

Twitter works best when you are open to meeting people you don’t know and connecting. This will be the biggest hurdle for people who have been on Facebook for a long time before getting on Twitter. Truth is, if you’re not willing to meet people and network, Twitter will not click and you’ll give up.

Quick tips for Facebook-ers moving to Twitter

  • Do: Follow people you don’t know
  • Don’t: Post pictures of your kids in the bath tub
  • Do: Engage in conversations
  • Don’t: Just be a broadcaster

Facebook is your living room

Your living room is for people you already know. Sometimes the people you know will bring people you ‘kinda’ know to your living room but for the most part it is people you know that come over to your house. Not everything that happens in your living room should be made public and most of the conversation that happens there is only interesting to people who know you.

Facebook is at it’s best when you share content and interact with people you know. People who use it as a networking space tend to come off as spammers and get ignored.

Quick tips for Tweeps moving to Facebook

  • Do: Upload lots of photos of your kids
  • Don’t: Add people you don’t know, that’s not the point of Facebook
  • Do: Connect with your mom
  • Don’t: Play Farmville

Personal communication layers

Earlier this week I wrote about communication layers for organizations. Looking at your toolbox of communication apps and spaces it is important to categorize them in terms of context and voice. Who is the targeted recipient of the content and how do you voice it?

Here are the communication layers I use personally and the context and voice that I have in them starting with the outer layer and working my way in:

Twitter | the coffee shop
This is a public space. And like a coffee shop the content you broadcast is targeted at people you know, but it is overheard by people who may be listening. If they like what you have to say the may chime in and you make a new connection. This works the other way too.

Blog | my platform
This is my space. My words. This is where I give away the best thoughts I have to the world and engage in conversation about those thoughts.

Facebook | my living room
My living room is for people that I actually know. It’s not for strangers. I’ll accept friend requests from people I have a connection with but I keep my feed trimmed pretty tight so that it’s just family and close friends that I interact with. I’ll add that I treat Facebook email just like regular email. And I block every app from my feed (farmville).

Email | grand central
I have been trying really hard lately to reduce how much email I handle by pushing a lot of the interaction to Twitter and/or in person. When I need to document something or handle some details this is the place to keep it. I use Gmail and all the awesome GTD features like labels and server-side filtering to keep this place squeaky clean and efficient. I try to turn email around in 24-72 hours. I’m currently in the habit of working through email in the morning only…in one sitting. If you need me today then you need to move down a layer to Twitter DM/Text.

Twitter DM/Text Message | my phone
In this shrinking world where we are connected with more and more people, Twitter DM has replaced a lot of phone calls for me and in my world it carries the same priority as a text message (be warned, if you abuse it I will drop you. I’m talking to you auto DM’ers). Talking on the phone is so inefficient that I rarely answer when I don’t know who it is and I schedule just about every call I make on my calendar because it has become the new meeting for me.

In Person/Video Chat | get it done
When it’s time to get stuff done I go in person or video chat…not the phone. I hate the phone. For as unproductive as it is it takes up too much time and mind space.

Meetings | avoid them
I won’t even classify them as a¬†necessary¬†evil, they’re just plain evil. OK, maybe I speak too harshly. The traditional meeting is evil and unproductive. Lately I have been scheduling meetings for like 12 minutes in the hall. I picked up this tip form the book; Rework. It works well. Meetings aren’t social time…just get stuff done and go rock!

What are your layers looking like?

Communication Layers

*read part 2 here

Technology and the communication tools that come with it are supposed to make things better. More productive. More Efficient.

I am a fan of tools, if they work and if my team will use them.

Here’s a run down of the workflow of communication layers that I’m trying to implement with the staff and leaders at Gateway Church. Starting with the outside/front door communications and moving toward the internal staff communications.

Public Spaces

Main Website
This is still our main portal with the most content and traffic. It is voiced so that people with no affiliation with our organization can understand the content and navigate to the info they will be most interested in. People who are a part of our organization still use it and it is a very important tool for communicating with them but it is targeted at people who are not yet a part of our community.

Organization’s¬†Twitter and YouTube channel
A companion to the website, our twitter account is voiced for people who are not yet a part of our community but is used also for communicating with insiders. YouTube videos are voiced to people not affiliated with us.

Organization’s Facebook Page(s)
I may get some disagreement here but I think Facebook is for people who have accepted your brand or organization as a part of their life at one level or another. Yes, some may find Facebook as a front door to your organization, but the voice and interactions on it are geared toward your community.

Organization’s Blog
This may differ for you in where you place your organization’s blog in these layers; but for us, a non-profit church, it fits in here. We find that it is a place that gets most traffic from Facebook and is read by community members. It serves as a place to provide more detailed info than Facebook.

Community Space
We are rolling out an app called SoChurch that is launching this month to provide more robust communication and group management for our church. Facebook can’t quite handle the functionality that we need. This also provides a way for us to voice directly to and with insiders. The app will work with ¬†Facebook and Twitter so that members won’t need to worry too much about tending to another social media profile.

Internal and Employee Communication Layers

There are a plethora of tools for communicating and implementing one without understanding where it fits in the layers will just frustrate your team and put everyone on different pages making an attempt at improving workflow do just the opposite.

Here are the layers we use, ordered by time sensitivity:

Face to Face | Real Time
Need an answer now? Don’t email, walk to their desk.

Instant Messaging/Video Chat/Phone Call | Real Time
We use Google Apps so we are all on a common platform for IM and video chat. We are also distributed throughout the city of Austin so face to face isn’t always an option. This may be true for you if you are on a large campus. I like IM a lot because a lot of ground can be covered while at the same time team members can multi-switch and keep moving on other things. A phone call works but requires more attention than an IM and can slow you down.

Text Message/Twitter DM | +/- 15 minutes
Not quite real time but close. If you don’t hear back in 15 minutes assume they are out of pocket and you may have to move to a slower platform.

Yammer | 1-4 hours
We use yammer for this layer and so far I’m digging it. Not everyone on your team will sign up for Twitter nor is all that content appropriate or helpful to the Twitter community. Yammer works like Twitter as far as functionality and it takes some training to get your team up to speed. This has helped us trim down a lot of email that should have never been emailed; “check out this link” or “what is everyone doing for lunch?” and it has even replaced more useful emails too.

Email | 24-72 hours
Email is not a real time communication tool! It’s not a project¬†management¬†tool either for that matter. I can say that by bringing in Yammer and Google apps my internal email has been cut in half or better. If you can establish with your team that you will not respond to email for at least 24 hours…you will be 90 percent of the way there in terms of¬†communication¬†efficiency. I recommend turning an auto-responder on that let’s people know that you will respond to their email in a day or two. I do this every couple months to remind people that there may be a better way to get a hold of me.