HiResThe news feed is where people spend most of their time on Facebook — in fact, 40 percent of their time.

By increasing your Facebook engagement (i.e. the amount of fans engaging with your page), you’re directly increasing the chances of your content showing up in people’s news feeds. If people are viewing their news feeds 40 percent of the time, this will boost visibility for your business and overall engagement.

So, how exactly does one increase Facebook engagement? This is a question I hear quite often from small business owners.

First, you want to make sure you’re not doing anything that jeopardizes your engagement and unfortunately, there are many mistakes that could do just that.

Here’s my list of 10 common mistakes that can hurt your Facebook engagement.

1. Writing posts that are too long

Facebook’s news feed is very crowded. Keep your status updates short and sweet to quickly grab a fan’s attention. This can be tough, but try to limit your posts to about 100 characters and if you must write more, don’t exceed 250 characters.

10 Mistakes image

2. Not keeping it simple

Asking questions that are too broad, hard to answer, or take a lot of thought turn people away. Increase engagement by asking multiple choice questions, yes or no questions, or by simply asking fans to respond using a limited number of words. By putting, “In X words or less…” in front of a question, fans will feel less intimated and more willing to share their opinion.

10 Mistakes image 2

3. Posting during high-volume hours on Facebook

The best time to post on Facebook varies for each individual business page, but it’s important to keep news feed competition in mind. You already know how difficult it is to keep someone’s attention and stand out in a crowded news feed. When you post during the busiest hours of the day, you’re making your task even more challenging. During prime TV-watching hours, your posts are directly competing with your fans’ attention as they are engrossed in a favorite TV show, their friends, or the brands they follow and love. Increase your engagement by posting during non-busy hours.

4. Not telling your fans what you want them to do

Don’t be afraid to specifically ask your fans to engage in a particular way. A Facebook call-to-action that asks a fan to “like,” caption this, share, respond yes or no, or give a thumbs up receives 48 percent more engagement on average. Creating content that is authentic and relative to your brand makes it feel real and less like pushy marketing.

5. Sharing content that has nothing to do with your business

While posting that funny cat photo may garner some engagement, it is also likely to produce a higher rate of negative feedback (negative feedback is when fans hide or report your post as spam within the news feed.) This negative feedback hurts your page’s content performance based on the Facebook news feed algorithm. If you have a fun piece of content you’re dying to share, simply find a way to tie it back to your business. Here’s an example of how we made something fun, applicable to our business.

10 Mistakes image 3

6. You want to discuss anti-social topics on social media

As much as you want to elicit responses from your fans, you should still always refrain from going on political rants, badmouthing competition, sharing overly personal content, complaining, and posting offensive content. In fact, positive content on Facebook gets more “likes” than negative content. You can spark a light-hearted debate to get your fans talking, but you should always stick to friendly, positive content.

7. Treating your content like traditional marketing

Social media marketing is different from traditional marketing. Traditional marketing focuses on promoting and pushing out information while social media marketing is all about pulling your current customers back in and increasing their loyalty. Facebook is a social two-way dialog, not a one-way broadcast. Make the most of this dialogue by listening, responding, and asking questions. The more authentic you are the more relationships you will build and the more your fans will want to engage with you.

8. You’re too focused on selling

Individuals use Facebook to connect and interact with other people. That’s why your Facebook Page should feel like a friend. Use a conversational tone, tell stories, listen, and respond to the folks that engage with your page. Also, remember the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of the content you post should be helpful or entertaining and 20 percent can be used for self-promotional or focused selling content.

9. Your posts lack consistency

Posting too often or irregularly can affect your engagement rate. Set an attainable goal for the amount of posts you want to publish each week. I recommend 3-4 times a week. By sticking to a schedule, you’ll generate regular engagement (Facebook’s new feed algorithm likes this.) It’s easy to lose track of the week and miss a post, which is why using the Facebook Scheduler to schedule half of your weekly posts can keep you on track.

10. Always posting the same type of content (links)

Images tend to draw more attention in the news feed and are great for generating engagement — mainly shares and likes. It’s easy to use images to tell a story about your business, highlight an event, or show off your products. When it comes to starting a conversation, text-only posts by far, receive the most comments. Varying the type of posts you share will keep your content fresh and help boost your engagement rate.

When it comes to Facebook engagement, many small businesses overestimate what’s needed for success. Don’t compare yourself to the big brands out there. It’s very challenging to get hundreds of “likes.” Compare yourself to yourself. A 5 percent improvement in engagement month over month is a success!

For more social media tips, “Like” us on Facebook!