This is always a fun topic 😀
Organic social media engagement rates have dropped massively over the last couple of years for businesses. Where businesses were seeing 20-30% engagement rates on Facebook, they might be lucky to see 5% now.
The newsfeed algorithm is largely to blame for this – it filters how many posts and which posts show up in someone’s newsfeed based on the quality of that content, and how people interact with the content when it is first posted. The frustration with the algorithm arises because the goalposts are always shifting. One month, Facebook might be cracking down on clickbait posts, the next they will be penalising sites that aren’t mobile optimised, then they’ll shift their sights to “fake news”.
Not everyone sees your posts
When you publish something, it will be shown to a small % of your followers, if they interact at a really high rate very quickly, it will get shown to more people, and if they interact at a high rate, it will get shown to even more people, and so on.
So if you want those really high organic interaction rates, you’re going to need to put content out there that catches people’s attention, fast. And don’t get me wrong, that’s hard to do!
A lot of people complain about the algorithm but really, it’s there to help you in the long run. The algorithm changes help to guide your social media and content strategy in a way that will resonate better with your audience in the long run. No one likes to wait 7 seconds for a site to load when they click on a link and “fake news” isn’t helping anyone.
Organic is best for content, along with search context.
Facebook is an advertising machine
Facebook is ultimately an advertising machine – it makes them a tonne of money (and it’s an extremely effective advertising medium for businesses) so they are always going to make decisions that favour improvement of their advertising platform and this is something that businesses should be excited about. Sure, it’s a bummer that content that used to get you a tonne of engagement for free isn’t performing the way it used to, but the online world moves rapidly and you’ve got to keep up.
Facebook’s advertising platform works on the premise of them selling advertising spaces within their users’ newsfeeds, so ads and organic content are intrinsically intertwined. To keep those advertising spaces available, they need to keep users engaged on the site for as long as possible with the organic content available. You’re not going to have engaged users if they have to filter through 10,000 crap posts to get to anything decent – and 10k is a conservative estimate of the number of pieces of content that would flow through a user’s newsfeed every day without the algorithm.
If users don’t enjoy the time they spend on Facebook, they’ll leave. And then you won’t have any opportunity to advertise, let alone engage those users organically.
And what I’ve just said, can apply to pretty much any social media platform out there – we just talk about Facebook more because it has the biggest audience. If you’re going to put your time and energy into any social media platform, Facebook would be the one that I’d investigate first, closely followed by Instagram. Of course, it depends massively on your niche and your audience.
Back to the original question, is it worth doing social media if you’re not getting engagement?
Yes and no.
Social media is so powerful, but it can be really hard to quantify the ROI of a social media strategy – especially given that it often doesn’t directly correlate to sales. But social media can often assist in your conversion strategy or even in other areas of your business. You need to ask yourself, what is the cost of not being on social media?
Take us for example, of course, we use our social media to showcase the work we do and to share information that would be valuable to our clients and target audience, but we also share content that is targeted at people who might like to work with us.
When we’re looking for new hires, more often than not, they will take a look at our social media and mention something about it in their interview or cover letter. It gives them an idea of what it’s like to work at Tailored Media and helps us to attract people who are more likely to gel well with our team and values.
Showcase your business in more detail with social media
Social media gives you the opportunity to showcase your business in more detail than you can on your website, and often with more personality. Your website should be simple to use, professional (yet still reflect your brand’s personality) and optimised to generate sales (this is a whole other topic!).
Your website is like the version of your business when it’s all glammed up (think JVN at the Emmys) while your social media is an opportunity to let your hair down, show a little more personality, some behind the scenes content and really connect with your customers (think JVN pre Emmys).
Social media is another touchpoint for your business. People don’t buy from businesses, they buy from people. And social media gives you the opportunity to showcase the human side of your business.
But that doesn’t mean you should go and post whatever you want, as often as you want. Post with purpose and post content that would genuinely be interesting and, most importantly, valuable to your audience. That’s where you will get some of that organic interaction and that’s where you will start to see an ROI on your social media – just be aware that your ROI doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of sales.