Welcome to Social Media Tip Tuesday. Every Tuesday Shelby and Rachel will share a nugget of wisdom behind a common topic or strategy in digital marketing. Our intention with this series is to empower you to feel more confident when making marketing decisions and give you the tools to impact your business. For each tip, we’ll outline the general situation, fear, or misconception that’s probably bringing up this topic for you, then we’ll reveal the greater context of this topic, and finally, touch on the biggest opportunity you have here to take action and improve your business!
The situation: “A large social media audience size, the better! I need to have a bigger following, because other people do, including some of my competitors.”
This mindset is so easy to have! We learned a long time ago as little humans that being liked felt good, getting attention from people you held value in (or depended on if it was your parents) was important, and that the more people that liked you in high school there was a higher probability of winning Prom Queen. When social media began, before algorithms were a thing, platforms for the most part also followed this belief system. “Liking” and “following” someone’s platform was a “positive” interaction and it quickly became a game that was not only relatively easy to win, but also felt positively reinforced through the emergence of influencers who were monetarily rewarded for their audience.
Seeing someone with over 10k, 100k, or even 1M followers on Instagram or Facebook isn’t uncommon at all, so it makes total sense why business owners compare their following to others and feel inadequate. In this situation not only is comparison the thief of joy, but it is also incredibly misleading. Why? With algorithms, robots, and platforms that have been around over a decade, the value system is far more complex than the “like” game we were first introduced to. The plus side? We think you’re going to like how they really operate much better.
The larger context: “It’s not about how many followers you have, but the quality of your followers.”
The real metric you want to go after is engagement. My favorite way to describe this is to use Instagram followers. Go to your favorite Instagrammer, look at their most recent post, add up their likes and comments, and divide it by the number of followers they have — that’s the engagement rate! According to Scrunch (the number one hit on Google when you search “average engagement rate on Instagram”) 1% to 3.5% is the average engagement rate across Instagram and 6% is statistically high. However, when we’re working with our clients on Instagram we aim for a 10% engagement rate, because this will give you an incredibly responsive audience when you go to tell (or sell) them something.
The thought process behind this? The more people who are seeing your message, the more likely they are to take action. The whole point of using digital platforms is to get your offerings in front of real humans or clients. If you have 1,000 followers and your engagement is 1%, you don’t have 1,000 people listening, you have 10, and that truth will make your battle of getting a message in front of people much, much harder.
The extra larger context of using paid ads to grow your page.
Before we give you some tips on how to improve your engagement, we want to touch on the messy and alluring game of running paid ads on Facebook to grow the number of likes on your page. * Pulls out soap box * We would suggest not doing this unless absolutely necessary or you have money to burn (but we’re not currently those people). We have a rule in our company to avoid using absolutes like “never” and “always,” because change is constant and it doesn’t help us to get stuck on one idea when building this new business. The same thing applies to digital marketing. When it comes to the question of what you should do on social media to improve your presence, there’s not a clear answer. It’s not a game you can win if you know the exact rules, so it doesn’t help to say “this will always work” or “this will never work.”
But with that being said, we feel very strongly that a paid strategy is not your best food forward for sustainable success. Why? Advertising for likes is buying followers, it’s expensive, and the chances of these people engaging with your brand continuously are really low. Through this mode of acquisition, they won’t know your brand as well and they aren’t invested in your mission. Unless you have a really specific reason why you NEED a big vanity number, increasing that following number without focusing on your individual posts won’t make your marketing more effective.
* Moves soap box * You’re not on social to win a game, you’re on social to share your value with real people and we love that! Use social media in alignment with the goals you have for your offerings and focus on the connection between the posts, not the shiny number.
What you can do to improve your engagement!
Be honest about the numbers that will impact your business.
Like we’ve said, because having 10k followers on Instagram has become so common, many business owners think that they need to have an audience in the 10’s or 100’s of thousand to be successful. But how many customers or units sold do you actually need to make an impact on your bottom line? If you’re currently selling 10 units a month, if you sold 10 more, you’d double your revenue. Meaning you probably don’t need 10,000 followers on Instagram to make a big impact! The number of followers is never a 1:1 ratio how much you’ll sell, but keeping your mindset rooted in how much you actually need will you help you focus on those people who are showing up for your message instead of playing into the masses.
Know who you’re talking to on your platforms.
Use the insights on social media platforms to start creating a profile of who is following you. Then compare that to the trends you’re seeing on the top performing posts (the most likes, comments, shares, traffic, # of units sold). If 60% of your audience is women and your most sold event is a wine tasting class that no men ever attend, then after looking at these metrics you can start to make conclusions like “My most engaged customer and target audience member is probably a woman in her twenties who wants to learn more about wine and do something different on the weekends.” This will help you write more effective messages to that person and bring other like them into the conversation.
Spend 20 minutes after you post on Instagram engaging with your audience.
Posting a post on Instagram and signing off and thinking you’re going to get the result you want is like pushing your Kindergartener out the door with the keys to your car, $50, and saying “Go to the store, buy ingredients to make meatloaf, and then come back to the house so I can make dinner.” Isabella is probably not gonna make it! And you’re not gonna get that really good dinner you wanted. You have to be the one in the driver’s seat and take control. After you post, respond to everyone who comments, scroll through hashtags you used and genuinely engage with those posts, scroll through your own feed and engage with the people there, and if you’ve done all that, you could even go through people who liked the post and engage with their feeds.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about audience size and the real significance behind your follower count and are excited to start creating a more engaged audience. If you want more tips like this sign up for our newsletter here or if you want to ask a follow up question email us at firstname.lastname@example.org