Ten Best Practices for Endurance Athletes on Facebook

First, if you need any explanation as to what Facebook is, exit the page. This ain’t for you. We can’t help you.

Now that we’ve cleared the riff-raff from the room:

Facebook. The world’s largest social network. Home of nothing but likes, click-baiting headlines, kid and wedding pictures, and annoying political posts. Sound familiar?

The problem, of course, is that the average user spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook. People love to spend time on the platform, which means that you can’t afford to ignore it.

So, how do you make Facebook work for you? Here are the Top 10 Best Practices for you to use on Facebook.


Post no more than one time to Facebook per day.

Think about that statistic above for a second: people spend over 40 minutes per day on this medium. That means the likelihood of them seeing a post from a person or a brand is pretty darn good, particularly if that person has a recent or strong connection to you.

Let me put it a different way: do you like it when a company sends you multiple advertising emails in the same day? No? Then why are you doing it on a platform that people spend more time on than their personal emails?

The takeaway: Put up one piece of content per day unless:

  • You have a state of emergency or other required “normal” change developing.
  • You’re changing out both your profile photo and Timeline photo.
  • A sponsor required you to post multiple times that day. If that is the case, you may want to re-consider the sponsor, seeing as they clearly don’t have a clue as to how Facebook actually works and probably will not be able to measure your return on their investment.

Post no less frequently than once per day.

In order to continue to rank in Facebook’s News Feed, above any of the approximately hundred factors that go into populating News Feed, you need to be relevant and have a close connection with your audience.

That means that your posts need to consistently generate likes, comments, and shares. That also means timeliness, too. How can people like, comment, or share what you post if you rarely post there?

Never post anything that doesn’t include a photo, a link, a video, or a tag of a sponsor/another person/another page.

Unless you post something completely inflammatory about a political view, or are just being a troll, text posts on their own rarely if ever generate much interactivity. Facebook has become less of an echo chamber and more or less the Internet at large.

People like visuals. Photos, videos, and lists create emotional connections. Think about a race report that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 9.14.48 PM

And a race report that instead is more like this:

Who wants to read that long drivel up above? (Full disclosure: That’s my own long drivel.) You wouldn’t comment on that, unless you bothered to read the whole thing AND felt a connection with it.

However, with the video, you’d be likely to like it, comment on it if you found it funny, and share it with your friends because it only takes two minutes of your time to watch it.

As an endurance athlete, you know that your time is valuable. So is your audience’s. They have a lot of other posts to look at in their 40 minutes they carve out to spend on Facebook. Make it count!

Understand the News Feed algorithm

This goes hand in hand with the above series.

Without getting too complex: the average Facebook user has approximately 1500 posts that are available to populate in News Feed in a day, coming from their friends, brands they organically support, and ads.

Facebook ranks each one of them based upon relevance, proximity of location and relationship, content, and whether it is paid content, to generate the Top 300 pieces of content. That’s what gets shown in your News Feed.

Basically, each one of your posts needs to come up in that Top 300. That comes from compelling content, but also from…

Being a participant

Don’t expect people to always just like or comment on your content. You need to be just as active in liking and commenting on content as well.

This establishes the closeness of the relationship between you and your Friends (or, in the case of being a brand, your Page Likes). Without an audience, your content just lands in the middle of Facebook’s billion users without a home.

Don’t tag multiple brands in the same post.

This is known as the Andy Potts rule. Andy is one of the few triathletes who at least has a semblence of understanding how Facebook works. However, Andy also manages to tag all of his sponsors in almost every post. This really doesn’t add much value to them.

Think about it this way: say you have a sponsorship with one brand for apparel, and another for footwear. What if your apparel sponsor also makes shoes? Do you think Pearl Izumi will be happy if you have a post where they are tagged, raving about Saucony’s shoes? Instead, mine a couple of day’s worth of content raving about Saucony’s shoes, then about Pearl Izumi’s Octane Tri Suit. (Or whatever the heck else you’re wearing.)

It doesn’t always need to be about the sport.

Rookie mistake: posting all the time about training, your gear, your sponsors, etc. News flash: nobody cares about how awesome your 4000 meter swim, or 20 minute power test was. Not only will it result in an #unfollow from The Real Starky, but not even people who are pro groupies give a damn about it here. (That’s what Strava is for.)

Instead, humanize yourself. People need a connection to you as a person. Talk about your family. Talk about your life outside of sport. People are looking for authenticity and passion, but they don’t want to be feeling like they are being sold to all the time.

Make yourself authentic by showing that yes, in fact, you are a real person who enjoys a giant burrito from Chipotle and a Corona every once in a while. You know, like the rest of us. And even those of us who aren’t athletes!

Change up your cover photo and profile picture on a rotating schedule.

This is like a free content day if you’re feeling stumped for what to post. Every two weeks, change either your cover photo or your profile picture.

These photos generate a lot of likes and comments and are typically shown to the maximum number of people in News Feed (so people can recognize your posts later.)

That leads into..

Choose cover and profile photos that will get people talking.

Don’t choose some generic photo of you crossing some finish line, unless it’s you winning every other week. Because if you’re a #champion, you get to brag.

If you aren’t a champion (and by champion, I don’t mean age-group award winner. I mean winner of the race period champion), then you should be looking for something that will generate emotion from your audience.

Which photo is more likely to be humanizing and will generate a positive reaction that will get likes, comments, and shares?

  1. a photo of you crossing a finish line
  2. a photo of you hugging your significant other after the race

Whatever you do, don’t sync up your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

These are different mediums with different audiences with different methods of consumption. I don’t care what your Twitter handle is. I don’t care who you are tagging on Twitter. That’s for a different How-to and best practices.

Besides, if people find it annoying in one place, they’re likely to find it annoying in the other, and now you’ve pissed off the same subset of people twice.
photo credit: Mark Zuckerberg on stage at Facebook’s F8 Developers Conference 2015 via photopin (license)

About the Author

Ryan Heisler
Ryan Heisler is a digital marketing specialist with a specific focus on search engine, social media, and content marketing. He is also a veteran of the specialty running and triathlon industry, having spent a decade managing stores in New England and the mid-Atlantic. He is also a former sports talk radio host at WERS-FM in Boston and holds a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law.