It’s nearly impossible to avoid Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the gamut of other social media platforms that vary in popularity these days. Because of this, if you’re not asking about social media, you’re probably answering. And either way – you’re hoping the answers are…RIGHT! Below is an overview of critical elements involved in effective social media engagement, broken into 5 segments: Network, Type, Timing, Frequency, and Origin. Let’s take a look at each segment, and how they can be strengthened in your own efforts.
Social Media Engagement
There are over 200 social media networks in existence today, the top 5 being Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+, according to eBizMBA. The types of users vary across all networks, which in turn means the types of content shared vary across all networks. Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, with over 1.5 billion discrete users. Twitter comes in around 20% of that number at around 330 million users. Even with such a large number of users, joining and “friending” individuals on any network does not guarantee viewership and engagement.
Facebook may lead the world in number of users, and you likely even use it yourself. This does not necessarily mean that it is the best place to get your message seen and engaged with. Each brand has their own reason for success in the networks they use. You may want to consider the top 10 most engaging brands on Facebook, as well as the top 10 of Twitter. In recent years, Facebook has been topped by fashion, cars, and food. Twitter was a bit more diverse, dominated by refreshments and tech. The question for you when considering where to place your emphasis is: why are they so engaging – and why are they so engaging there?
Facebook encourages a wide array of social media engagement. Sharing content publicly, using paid advertisements, direct / group messaging, gaming – and the list goes on. Pinterest, for example, is growing in popularity due to a very different approach. This network encourages engagement by focusing content mainly on the users’ core interests, as opposed to a large number of interests and pursuits available through Facebook. The total population you can reach through Pinterest is significantly smaller than Facebook, but as the specific level of interest increases, valuable engagement becomes more likely. You will do well to balance your social media efforts across more than one network. However, knowing who is on each network you work with will make your efforts more worthwhile.
In the entire digital world, there are only 3 types of content to post: text (such as articles, quotes, and status updates), videos, and images. Survey after survey has proven that video consistently ranks the highest in engagement, followed by images, and lastly articles. This is largely a measure of engagement on social media networks and does not reflect the way users consider engagement directly with a video page, or directly on a blog. That is to say – users engage with content beyond the individual social media platform.
The importance of articles still can not be understated, and reading (thankfully!) still has a place in our society. For articles specifically, the superheroes over at HubSpot identified 5 different categories (4 strictly article types): How-To, Lists, What-Posts, and Why-Posts, and Videos. The infographic below shows that the popularity of different types of articles can fluctuate from month-to-month. We’ll cover more time-oriented issues below.
Begin to look into which content performs best with your audience. For example, How-To’s would go over well with the Home Depot, do-it-yourself crowd. Home Depot was one of the top brands on Twitter in 2014 (as shared above), so you could likely take a similar approach to sharing links to how-to articles (w/ a related image) on Twitter with a reliable advantage in engagement. Why-posts would be more popular in audiences that value discussion, and What-posts would fly with the analytical and news-hungry folks. Remember: not everyone needs a video to be engaged, and not all engagement comes on social networks (e.g. blog comments).
Another note on the popularity of different content types: consider the day of the week, and month of the year. This study from Fractl and BuzzStream only covered a 6-month period, but you can begin to glean that it is important to consider where your readers are at in their life. Things that are important work and family,
Bonus: If you are running out of great ideas to post about, Evoluted talks about 14 types of posts that work here.
This is one of the most common questions in social media marketing: “What are the best times of the day to post on social media?” With only 24 hours in a day, what can we expect to be effective times of the day to engage our viewers? Your viewers likely have times of the day that work best for them to sift through, and interact with, new content. Hotspots during the day have long included:
- the beginning of the workday,
- the end of the workday
- evenings before bedtime
Take a look at this report from addthis.com, which examined social media engagement trends in the US and the UK, to determine some consistent times of the week to engage with readers. These results are consistent with numerous other reports about social network usage:
- Users wind down before “bedtime” on Facebook and Pinterest
- Career interests are pursued as users crest the second part of the first workday of the week on LinkedIn
- Broad interests and immediate updates are pursued as the workday ends on Twitter
Frequency follows on the heels of timing because the question of “when?” becomes “when else?” Not everyone you want to reach is only around at a single time of the day, and all social media posts have a half-life. This means your social media engagement efforts also have a half-life. When asking “How often should I post?” you will want to consider several factors:
- When are you able to engage with your viewers (as they interact your brand)?
- How much time does your target audience spend online in a given day?
- How does your target audience prefer to engage with content? What times of the day?
- How can you balance being informative with being annoying?
- How often can your target audience actually interact in a day/week?
When it comes to frequency of posts (as with so much of social media content and strategy), there is no absolute answer. It takes a lot of trial-and-error to find out who in your target audience is getting engaged with what you are posting – and when.
Additionally, the general takeaway from a Hubspot article on Facebook post frequency benchmarks:
- Post to Twitter at least 5 times a day. If you can swing up to 20 posts, you might be even better off.
- Post to Facebook five to 10 times per week.
- Post to LinkedIn once per day. (20 times per month)
As the article says multiple times, the “best” frequency of posting is dependent on a variety of criteria. You have to post to be visible, but over-posting can begin to damage your brand response. The majority of your Don’t overwhelm your customers with content on Facebook and be selective about what you’re publishing.
Origin (Creation vs Curation)
The world of “whose content is best?” is a crucial one to determine. Once you’ve established why (engagement), where (network), what (type), and when (timing/frequency), you will want to answer “who.” “Who,” in this case, is the source (origin) of the content itself – whose content is it?
Create original content. This is what your brand stands on. Original content shares your convictions. Your message gets cultivated in original content. However, there are several reasons to incorporate curated content:
- Offset the “ego-centric” quality of strictly original and self-referential content.
- Increase credibility by referencing other experts in your industry (e.g. you may have said X is the best product on the market, but if the same report comes from an even more well-known or highly reputable source, you may increase your own credibility in future posts)
- Increase your efficiency by using matching content that others create.
- Create the relationship with the brands whose content you curate. This can even turn into them returning the favor!
Research points to a balance of curation vs creation that is between 75-80% curated content, and only 25-30% created content. Why is this? Consider your curated content as a testament to what you would say anyway. If you are not the only one saying the same thing, you will begin to grow your own credibility. You will reinforce your brand identity with what you are saying with your own original content, save time, and build credibility all at once. That’s a solid move in business.
None of these segments live in a vacuum, and they are not exhaustive. Social media engagement works for its users just like any form of interaction, and you will have an advantage by balancing each of these elements and knowing why people use social media. Take what works for you in each segment, and experiment with them in your own efforts. Check back with us and let us know how they are working for you.
Lynx | Digital Media Producers creates results-driven content and strategies to enhance your customer’s experience of your brand. Contact us today to see how we can maximize your social media efforts alongside your other marketing channels.