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More likes, shares and comments please? Engaging Facebook users in CSR-related posts

June 2017 - by Claire van Leeuwen: "Informal language, popular words and direct questions are important ingredients for an engaging CSR-related Facebook post."

Claire van Leeuwen

We all do it: liking, sharing and commenting on Facebook posts. Combined, these virtual engagements are called Facebook User Engagement. But what value does that simple like, share or comment hold? Well, quite a lot. Nowadays, the popularity and virality of corporation’s Facebook posts might define their business success. But how do corporations make sure that they reach higher Facebook User Engagement? And, specifically, with CSR-related Facebook posts? In my research, the aim was to identify the extent to which several factors in CSR-related Facebook posts predict the degree Facebook User Engagement.

The usefulness of Facebook for CSR communication, interaction and engagement

If you are a Facebook user yourself, you might have noticed how much you rely on it in your daily life. For me for instance, Facebook lets me stay updated with my favorite brands and the latest global news. This is the same for lots of people, all around the world. Of course, corporations discovered they might use Facebook to their advantage. Why not? It makes them reach lots of people, for relatively low costs.

However, corporations mostly use their corporate Facebook pages for marketing purposes. Nonetheless, there seems to be an increase in CSR-related Facebook posts now too. This is probably because people have become more strongly opinionated regarding the obligations they believe corporations have to the environment and society at large. This is otherwise known as Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR. Of course, CSR can be quite a delicate issue, so an appropriate approach is needed when communicating about this topic. Furthermore, when people want to be engaged with CSR, corporations should let them engage. One way for corporations to let people engage is through Facebook. Facebook as a social medium is a useful platform where interaction between corporations and consumers can take place. In conclusion, knowing how to reach higher Facebook User Engagement with CSR-related Facebook posts might be of tremendous value for corporations.

The research

I performed an analysis of all Facebook posts during 2016 of five large corporations: Nestlé, Intel, Ikea, Google, and Microsoft. Of these Facebook posts, I identified how many of these were CSR-related. Then, I researched which of six factors in CSR-related Facebook posts come in handy when trying to reach higher Facebook user engagement.

Six factors were taken into account during analysis, namely which CSR dimension was described, the length of the post, the type of post, the customization of the content, whether a hashtag was used, and whether a question was asked. Two of these six factors proved to be good predictors of Facebook User Engagement.

What makes people click that like button

So what did I find out? You might not realize it, but whether a question is asked probably influences you to eventually click that like or share button, or leave a comment. Also, a more customized content reaches that same, and even larger, effect. This means that a more informal language with more popular words might also make you engage more with that CSR-related Facebook post.

The other factors weren’t as good of predictors, but did give some relevant insights that could be explored in further research. For instance, the saying “less is more” might also apply to the context of CSR-related Facebook posts, as Facebook User Engagement increased when the word count decreased. Furthermore, results indicated it might be useful to add a photo, or preferably a video, to CSR-related Facebook posts. However, the usage of a hashtag seemed to lead to a decrease in Facebook User Engagement, although other researches claimed otherwise.

So, what should corporations do?

To reach higher Facebook User Engagement, corporations should certainly make sure they customize the content of the CSR-related Facebook posts by using more informal language, more popular words, and by keeping a target group in mind. Also, corporations should ask a question, as this creates a direct attempt at interaction between the corporation and the Facebook user. So, corporations: start applying these insights to your CSR-related Facebook posts and get ready for some really engaged Facebook users!