There are so many statistics these days about social media marketing. Most are staggering. All are increasing. We're talking billions of people, millions of posts and years of time spent on social networks.
But as a marketer, how do you take those numbers and apply them to create a more effective social strategy?
I'll give you a hint: It's very hard, especially when every business is unique in the sense of industry, company size and their target audience. It's pretty tough to find the context you need on what these numbers actually mean to you. That’s why we created the 2015 Social Media Benchmarks Report. This report is your new magic crystal ball, giving you insight into how 7,000+ real-world businesses utilize social media for their marketing and how their efforts are paying off.
And these real-world businesses? They're HubSpot marketers just like you. We took the benchmark reporting that is now available in Social Reports and made over 60 charts and graphs that breaks down social media data by industry and company size, and reveals the posting, following and engagement habits of those businesses.
In the first few pages of the report, author and HubSpotter Erik Devaney shares our top three takeaways. Here's one of them:
Social engagement is driven by multiple factors: Find the ideal balance
There is no magic bullet. No secret weapon. It would be amazing if we could simply turn up the “social following” dial and watch social engagement increase as a direct result. But ultimately, the issue is more complex than that.
After all, your company could have a billion followers, but if you never post, you’ll never get any interactions per post. And then there’s post quality. Surely, a high-quality post (i.e., a post with relevant messaging, well-crafted copy, beautiful design, etc.) will drive more interactions on average than a low-quality post. But where does that factor into the equation?
Unfortunately, “post quality’ wasn’t a column in our data. (It’s a pretty difficult thing to calculate given its subjective nature.)
What I can show you, however, is the difference between an industry with (what I consider to be) a good balance of engagement factors -- the consumer goods/retail/ecommerce industry -- and an industry with a poor balance of engagement factors -- the real estate industry.
First up, the consumer goods/retail/ecommerce industry. This industry has an average social following of 370,321, and posts 6.02 times per week on average.
In the graph below, I’ve divided the companies in the consumer goods/retail/ecommerce industry into four groups: those that post less than once per week, those that post 1 to 3 times per week, those that post 3 to 10 times per week, and those that post 10 or more times per week.
On the y-axis is the average number of interactions per post for each of those groups. As you can see, there’s an incremental increase in interactions as you move across the x-axis from the lowest-frequency posting group (<1 post) to the highest (10+ posts). So, for the consumer goods/retail/ecommerce industry, posting more does seem to increase engagement. Why is this the case?
(Note: The ranges on the x-axis are actually 0.999... and below, 1 to 2.999..., 3 to 9.999..., and 10+. For the sake of graph cleanliness, I avoided using decimal values.)
Finding the balance between following and posting frequency is the key. Remember: the consumer goods/retail/ecommerce industry has an average social following of 370,321, and posts 6.02 times per week on average. Compare that to the real estate industry, which has an average social following of 103,229, and posts 19.21 times per week on average. The former has 3x times the audience of the latter, yet the latter posts 3x as frequently as the former. The result?
As you can see, the trend for interactions per post in the real estate industry is the complete opposite of what we saw for the consumer goods/retail/ecommerce industry. Here, the groups that post the most receive the lowest levels of engagement. This could be a saturation issue: the real estate industry posts more than any other industry, yet its social following numbers can’t necessarily sustain all that posting. It’s a flooded market.
The solution? Let’s say you’re using Facebook. One well-timed, high-quality post per week (or every 2 weeks) might stand a better chance of cutting through noise than posting to Facebook, let’s say, 14 times per week (which is the average number of Facebook posts that companies in the real estate industry publish per week -- see page 13 for graph). Companies in the consumer goods/retail/ecommerce industry, on the other hand, could experiment with increasing their posting frequency.
At the end of the day, different audiences respond in different ways. What works for one industry or company size might not work for another. I’ve tried to keep the takeaways in this section high-level enough to apply to all industries and company sizes. In the pages to follow, you can dive deeper into more industry- and company size-specific data.
Ready for more? Download the 2015 Social Media Benchmarks Report here.
Originally published Jan 29, 2015 1:00:00 PM, updated September 20 2017