A big question that I get asked a lot about is how to manage your social media profiles for your business. How often should you post and what should you post? Although my main domain is paid advertising, social media content is the fuel for paid advertising. Creatives are the core of a successful paid advertising campaign and some of the best creatives are derived from what content businesses post on their social media.
Businesses all around the globe are trying to crack the code when it comes to managing their social media so they can get as much FREE reach as possible, but the struggle has never been more challenging. Social media platforms are systematically taking away organic reach and are replacing it with paid reach. That’s where the famous “boost” or “advertise” button appears next to your posts, to make you spend money on what used to be free.
It’s not news to probably anyone by now but it’s important to stress that it’s not you, it’s them. Regardless of how great your social media content is, the reach will be extremely limited and will only decline with time.
Although organic reach is in decline, there are still ways to maximize it.
Quality over quantity.
It’s not about how much you post, it’s about what you post. Seems like a no-brainer for a lot of businesses, but a vast majority are still trying to figure out how many times they should post a day and at what exact time. Social media wants you to be a loyal user of their platform but that doesn’t mean that they want you to upload content that is not likely to interest many people. My recommendation to businesses is always the same: if you don’t have something unique, entertaining, or valuable to share, then don’t. Managing your social media is a long-term commitment, not a short-term gig.
Post your best original and valuable content that you think users would be interested in. It’s important to consider how users actually see your posts within their feed and construct your creatives to reflect on that. For example, uploading a funny quote without having any relationship to your business or product, might get you a few likes, but won’t help you to achieve much beyond that. Focus on original content that adds some value or entertainment to your users.
Like quality matters, consistency helps establish a brand’s relationship with the social media platform. This can be seen as measuring how long you interact with the platform and with your followers over time. Not only your content should be consistent, but your profile will also be ranked over time based on your activity over time. That’s why I recommend spacing out and planning out a creative plan that will allow you to be active in the long run and will have enough content to post over time. While the previous point talks about favoring quality over quantity, consistency means that over time, you will actively engage and share content on the platform on a consistent basis.
Native & original content –
This point is not widely talked about, but you shouldn’t upload the same content to all different social media platforms. It’s ok to upload the same content to Facebook and Instagram since they are the same company, but when you want to publish the exact same video to Tiktok and Instagram, depending on where you upload it first, it won’t reach its full potential in both platforms. Social media platforms compete for original content creators and they don’t think that seeing the same content on another platform will serve their interests. That’s why they invested massive amounts to be able to detect content that’s reproduced or reposted on another platform and they limit the reach when they detect it. Every advertising platform is different, be sure to upload specific content that blends naturally into the platform in terms of the creative style, length, and type.
Engagement ranking –
Engagement ranking is how social media platforms rank your content and how much organic reach to give you in return. There are two factors they measure here. The first is your engagement with the people who follow your profile, and the second is how it ranks organically outside your followers. When they measure your engagement rate with your followers, they measure how relevant the posts are based on the level of engagement. If they engage more often and create more “meaningful actions” such as long video views, comments, and shares, they will distribute your reach to more of your followers. The same goes for organic reach outside your following base. If your ads are reaching more people that don’t follow your profile, then your content will be measured against other organic content that is competing for the same organic space. That organic space becomes smaller and smaller and you shouldn’t expect a lot of opportunities here regardless of how great your content is. Engagement ranking should matter most when it’s measured against your followers.
#hashtags, Captions & timing –
Hashtags were the biggest thing when Instagram launched and they were very cool. The idea that we can write without spaces almost made hashtags an official language. But today they mean less for businesses, a lot less. It sounds crazy, but when Instagram launched, users would search with hashtags. That’s all history now that you can search for keywords on Instagram. Hashtags and captions won’t really make a difference in your organic reach as the main factor that will determine how much attention and engagement your post gets is the actual creative (image or video). I know you might be thinking that when you post stuff related to giveaways or free stuff, the copy makes a big difference, but one can argue that you can make that same or even bigger difference if you would mention that in the actual creative. Button line is that the biggest factor that impacts ranking and engagement is the actual creative, not the hashtags or copies. Social media platforms won’t credit you much for using a lot of hashtags or long-form copy because remember, they are visual platforms.
Timing matters to some extent but based on my own research, it’s not a game-changer. There are native tools but also a bunch of third-party tools that can help you automate and optimize the time you post per day based on where your followers are mostly on the platform and are likely to engage, but I personally don’t use them much. From the data that I’ve seen, platforms like Tiktok that are a lot more generous with organic reach, distribute content based on how the post performs in the first hour or two, so on Tiktok I would probably pay more attention to when my ads get more reach and post at those hours. Other platforms like Instagram and Youtube that have more sophisticated algorithms have more mature ways to evaluate the content aside without factoring in the time that you posted.
Business & personal accounts –
A lot of businesses are not aware that there is a big difference in organic reach between business profiles and personal users. It doesn’t matter if you set your account under a business account or under a personal account, social media platforms can easily detect if it’s promotional material or not. The logic is simple. They want businesses to pay for interacting with their users especially since most of the content that they post is promotional material. On the other hand, users that post personal, entertaining, or valuable content always get favored and get a lot more organic reach. User-generated content is what makes other users spend more time on the platform. So changing between your account type but posting the same content won’t give you any benefits. Expect to get a lot less reach than regular users.
Videos Or Images –
According to data published by social media platforms, videos outperform images both in terms of ads, but also in terms of social media content. In other words, it’s better to focus as much as possible on videos. Focusing on videos doesn’t just mean taking images and turning them into slideshows, but actually producing engaging video content. Videos are also favored in terms of organic reach because they are more interactive and engaging. If you watch 10 video posts vs 10 image posts, the video posts will have more retention and will make users stay more time on the platform. Incorporating videos into your social media content strategy will help achieve better results.
Engaging with your followers –
This point gets a lot of focus. Marketers will tell you how important it is to engage with your followers and reply and “like” back their comments. I won’t say that there is no truth to it, but you shouldn’t expect this strategy to do wonders as social media platforms can easily detect it as artificial engagement and treat it accordingly. Not saying it hurts, but doesn’t help much. I see often businesses “liking” and replying back to every comment with a “thank you” which on one hand is great because it shows that they are responsive, engaging and listening to their followers, but it doesn’t help much in getting more organic reach from other users who don’t see those specific posts. The proper way would be to first focus on content that is likely to generate a lot of reactions from users that in return will draw more engagement and then you can top that off with some more engagement of your own to engage with the people who commented.
The 2% organic reach & why you need paid advertising –
I think that the wildest thing about managing your social media content is the fact that we put so much work into the process, yet such a small amount of users end up seeing what we post. If you just look at your organic reach on an overview level, you will find that such a low amount of users end up viewing or engaging with your posts to a point where the value of posting and the resources we invest to create the content should be examined. Again, it’s not that you are doing something wrong, it’s just the natural evolution of social media platforms. They are in the business of making money, not of giving away free reach and traffic.
On one hand, it became a must to have social media presence and to be active, yet without enough reach, it seems like a waste of money and time.
Paid advertising is that (expensive but necessary) bridge to make sure you are leveraging your social media content to drive actual customers and sales to your business. We are not doing social media content because we feel like it, we are doing it because we want to get more business. My take on online advertising is that when it looks like an ad, people will react more negatively. Using your social media content and utilizing it into your paid advertising campaigns will help not only drive more revenue, but also generate more reach and engagement to your social media channels. On one hand it will provide a strong stream of creatives to use for your advertising, and on the other hand it will help you build and leverage your social media presence.
In conclusion –
I’m often asked about my thoughts on how to properly manage the social media accounts of a business. The truth is, organic reach from social media platforms isn’t what it used to be. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have been making it more and more difficult to reach customers organically without the use of paid advertising.
There are some important guidelines that I recommend when posting to social media accounts to generate the most organic traffic possible. First, don’t spend too much time worrying about hashtags or the timing of your posts. Instead, focus on quality over quantity. It’s best to dedicate time to developing high-quality creatives rather than cranking out a multitude of low-quality creatives. Just like in paid advertising, you should strive to keep your creatives as original as possible. In addition, strive to consistently post high-quality and original content to your profile. These tips, along with engaging with your followers, will drive up your engagement ranking. Lastly, creatives should be in a video format if possible to further bolster your organic reach.