We hear and read nearly everywhere that social media is a terrific, economical way for marketers to spread the word, build a brand, and establish direct engagement with large groups of potential customers.
However, not surprisingly, social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and others change their algorithms over time to encourage users, especially businesses, to leverage paid advertising to have their posts seen by a broad audience.
According to Neil Patel, a prominent web influencer and expert, social media sites are creating stiffer algorithms to limit social reach and sharing to encourage more businesses to advertise.
Given these narrowing limitations, how should marketers approach social media to create engagement and generate organic interest in their business and products? Furthermore, what types of free social media postings generate the most interest and interaction?
In-Depth Analysis of Social Media Postings
Patel’s group uncovered and analyzed 50,000 social media posts to discover which garnered the most attention and active response. The data for their analysis drawn from BuzzSumo, a leading content marketing evaluator, revealed examples of the most shared postings from Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest that contained industry-related content.
The first step in evaluating all this data was to sort the bulk of social media posts into ten topics to determine which seemed to generate the most active responses.
The general categories were:
Comparing social media activity across these categories helps identify how and where marketers may best enter a discussion to achieve the highest level of active engagement.
Question 1: Which Category Received the Most Social Media Engagement?
From a quantity point of view, News posts brought the most engagement. Sports and Politics were second and third, respectively, at roughly 60% of the activity generated by the News category.
Question 2: Which Category Received the Highest Engagement Rate per Post?
While Question 1 (above) defined which category received the highest number of posts that elicited engagement, this question ponders which one averaged the most engagements per post. Politics was a clear winner in this instance, with News and Sports following. Not surprisingly, once a controversial Political topic is introduced in our current world, engaging people emotionally and intellectually is almost automatic.
However, marketers should remember that politics can be a polarizing category, so aggressively responding to a political comment can alienate half or more of a potential target audience.
Posting non-political news items in a thoughtful, informed manner can be very positive. Marketers might consider introducing news items and materials that relate to their industry with the goal of being recognized as thought leaders or influencers in that field of interest.
Question 3: What Content Works Best on Social Media Networks?
Understanding which topics receive the most interaction is only the beginning. Marketers also need to understand how to participate and where their content is likely to be most effective.
The best measure for determining how effective a post might be is to identify how often the content is shared or passed on. According to Patel’s analyses, each social media platform is different. For example:
- On Facebook and Twitter, news items are most likely to be shared.
- Fashion and Travel receive the most shares on Pinterest because the platform is a more visual gathering place.
While each social media platform attracts different participants, posting and commenting on newsworthy items and events on Facebook or Twitter can be effective. However, with Pinterest and Instagram, visual postings tend to grab more attention.
Question 4. What Types of Content are Effective?
The discussion then raises the question of which type of content is most popular? Typical posting categories include:
- Press releases.
- “Why” posts.
- “How-to” articles.
- Others, including blog posts.
The research found the most active posts fell into the “Others” category, followed closely by “Why” posts. Although news events drove most posts, the results suggest that people are interested in learning about things and opinions through blogs while gaining a more in-depth understanding of how and why these occur.
Question 5. How are Total Engagement and the Total Number of Shares in Each Industry Related?
A significant number of “shares” of a social media post equates to greater success than a high number of comments and likes/dislikes. In other words, each post share increases the chances for more organic traffic.
Politics and sports usually receive the most shares and engagement, especially when a topic is controversial and when dealing with rabid, die-hard fans. However, once again, these topics can create a lot of enemies, so beware.
Posting positive, informative, and non-confrontational information related to a news item can evoke more positive responses, commentary, and shares.
Question 6: What Should Be the Length of Your Content?
Everyone hopes their posts will appear on the first page of a Google Search. But, while Google’s algorithms for identifying Page 1 content get continually more complex, one trend is clear: preferred pages are getting shorter.
Currently, the average Page One post for Google searches is 1,447 words, down from over 3,000 a few years ago. Meanwhile, Hubspot mentions that the ideal blog length should be in the 2,100 to 2,400 range.
Neil Patel’s analysis found that the Business and eCommerce categories tended to have the longest posts (over 700 words) but had the lowest level of engagement and sharing. Over 90% of all posts shared on social media tend to be less than 2,000 words. Sharers seem not to like overburdening others with longwinded dissertations.
Defining a Social Media Interaction Strategy
Marketers should always be aware of the potential impact of their social media posts by:
- Linking to news events with positive, thoughtful, and educational material demonstrates expertise.
- Avoiding potentially confrontational controversy.
- Focusing on specific social media platforms allows them to portray their expertise in the best light.
- Keeping the messages short.
- Creating informational blogs and “why” posts related to the business.
Finally, periodically measure the impact of social media interactions and make changes as needed. Social media platforms offer an excellent opportunity to reach out to a large crowd of potential customers, but ill-advised content can be detrimental.
Image Building Media
Image Building Media is an internet marketing company based in Tampa, Florida, serving clients in various industries throughout the U.S. We specialize in internet marketing, including SEO, social media marketing, website design, content marketing, video marketing, email marketing, SMS marketing, mobile web marketing, online reputation management, CRM integration, and more. We also provide consulting services, including conversion analytics.