Why, oh why aren’t they answering?
Do questions increase likes and comments on Facebook?
No … and yes, according to 2011 research by Momentus Media.
Momentus looked at more than 10,000 status updates, dividing them into those that contained a question mark and those that did not. Then they compared those to interaction rates, or likes and comments per post divided by total page followers.
What did they find?
1. Questions garnered 23% fewer interactions.
That’s right: Asking questions didn’t increase interactions, but lowered them.
Momentus researchers were so surprised by this result that they dug deeper. They:
- Pulled out posts asking people to like or comment. Posts without questions still outperformed those with questions.
- Looked at the “like” rate alone. Still question posts came in dead last.
- Studies comments alone. Finally, question posts outperformed those without questions.
2. Questions increase comments.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for comments, ask for them. But asking questions also helps.
Why don’t questions perform better?
Turns out, some questions work better than others.
In another study, this one by Buddy Media, researchers found that fans are more likely to comment when asked a question. But not just any question.
Questions that work best begin with:
Other interrogatory words don’t work as well.
“Avoid asking ‘why’ questions,” advise the Buddy Media researchers. “‘Why’ has both the lowest like and comment rates and may be seen as intrusive and/or challenging.”
There’s your answer!
Ask better questions.
Public speaker Ian Perry responds to this research with an interesting idea:
“[Start] your question with a provocative premise (to show you’ve been thinking) and then engage people in exploring it,” he writes.
“’What do you think is the future of speaking?’ is vague and vacuous. Try something like: ‘If micro-biologists are right and every cell has its own mind capable of receiving messages through the transfer of energy regardless of time and space, could there come a day where we too communicate our message without audibly speaking?'”