Four Types of Status Updates for Improving Social Media Engagement on Facebook and Twitter


Just because you’ve got a Facebook Page and  Twitter Account doesn’t mean anyone is interested in what you have to say. Or your content is interesting but you feel you aren’t positioning it correctly. Or everything feels a bit “corporate”speak in a “social” space. So I’ve put together four types of social objects for you to play with.  Which one do you use most?

You can follow my podcasts on iTunes (video) or (audio) and YouTube Social Media Business.

A. Definitions in Social Media

Basic stuff I know, but it has to be said so we are all on the same page.

Social Objects

Social Objects are status updates, videos, infographics, discrete pieces of content that can be distributed. If social media is the medium or channel then social object is the content that travels that channel, passed hand to hand, mouth to ear, tweet to retweet, Like to Share. Your conversation calendar is probably full of statistics, and images and videos that you want to distribute via social channels.

Social Media

Media is mediums (plural). Channels. If you broadcast on social media then you are connecting with your Circulation. If they turn around and discuss it, retweet or share it, then we see Exposure/Reach. The Medium is the Customer. Think C2C channels.

B. Four Types of Status Updates for Social Media Engagement

A quick glance of any Facebook Page would show you these four I think.

1. Testimonial or Statement update

Personally we say “I’m going to the supermarket” or “I’m taking the kids to school” or “I’m having lunch”. No response required. Corporates say “we’re launching a new product”, “our CEO is happy with our end of year results”. No action required. Limited engagement.

2. Q and A or Social Search

Shift “I’m having lunch” into

  • What should I have for lunch?
  • What are you having for lunch?
  • Where’s a good place to go for lunch in Melbourne?

and you will get a different response I think. Try this with your standard business updates – shift them to a question.

Warning: Don’t just stick a “what do you think of that?” “have you seen this cool….?” on the end of every tweet and Facebook Page update. Be wary of “finish this sentence” sort of questions – can be disaster!   Make the question timely and relevant.

3. Social or Discussion

On Twitter we use the @name for a reason – to bring that person into the conversation. Simply placing content online does not guarantee discussion -try bringing in relevant people. On Facebook personally we can use +LaurelPapworth and the same works on Google Plus.  By naming people “tagging them” they can be pinged with interesting content. Do NOT do this simply to promote e.g. @SilkCharm here’s a special offer you’d love. Because I wouldn’t. But sending someone a report or analytics or an infographic or a newspaper article definitely will build relationships. Generosity. Think Paying it Forward. If you haven’t retweeted someone, answered their question don’t even THINK of sending them a press release and ask them to tweet it. You can @Name thankyou occasionally for good manners!

WARNING: some senior execs seem to sit on Twitter and just say thankyou to people. That’s not really engagement – none of these 4 types of udpates can sit in isolation. You need all four.

4. Distribution of content -external and internal

A key mechanism of social channels is distribution (not creation) of content. Finding, Filtering and Forwarding (not blogging). Or Discovering, Discussing, Distributing (not creating an original YouTube video).

INTERNAL: sharing something on Facebook, retweeting something on Twitter. In other words, you forward it on the network you are using. Particularly useful is forwarding key influencer material, or client issues. Remember: invest your time in the channels where you customers invest their time. That may or may not mean LinkedIn or Google Plus.

EXTERNAL: sharing something from offsite into the network. Finding an interesting blog post and tweeting the link. Putting up a YouTube video on Facebook. Try and think reciprocal  sharing with key social media influencers rather than tweeting your own links ad nauseum.

Be the Magazine, not the Advertisement.

You are a Media company now.  Think about magazines – they find content, quotes, articles and publish them and then wrap the promotions around that content. Don’t just stick up “Buy One, Get One Free” offers or “enter our competition” Facebook update. Then you are an advertisement channel, not a content channel.

Internal to facebook and twitter it’s pretty easy to pass on information from your network to your network. Just click “On a Page you manage” then choose the Business Page.

Share on Facebook

Distribution is the quickest way to build influence and a following – become a news distributor!

Don’t try to fool people. Coles is full of “content” but it looks like ads masquerading as content. e.g.

It links to a Coles site and their own content. If you stick with distributing your own content, you won’t be part of the community. Notice the lonely little bubble in the top left corner? Don’t be that bubble!

Ripple across social networks

Notice that each ripple can be within it’s own network (Facebook or Twitter) but can also jump to another one – what goes up on YouTube can be blogged, tweeted and facebooked.

Your updates should be cross pollinating content from your different streams, and acknowledging social content too. Don’t get ratty if key influencers don’t share your stuff when you don’t share theirs!

I know this stuff is a bit basic for some of you, but go look at the Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts of many Australian businesses and you’ll see it’s all promotion promotion promotion. No conversation diary, no acknowledgement of good content, no recognition of key influencers, no social search and give and take. And that’s disgraceful. Pass this on to a company you think needs to pull their little socks up please? 😉


  • Andie

    Reply Reply April 22, 2013

    That image is from 2008. The social landscape is very different now.

  • Mike Gracia

    Reply Reply May 13, 2013

    Brilliant post – Re: Point 3: RT’ing people, but adding something to the retweet can also be a good tactic – if there is room! Which leads on to… If you are hoping to get a RT form a given Tweet, try to keep the character count nice and low, as some folks like to prefix their thoughts before your tweet (using things like the ‘classic retweet’ plugin from lifehacker!).

  • Anna Pham

    Reply Reply June 8, 2013

    Thanks for very useful yet simpe tips.

  • waynemansfield

    Reply Reply December 30, 2013

    Loved the video…. and your explanation of the different type of updates… well done

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