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Analysis of 5 Million Posts Shows What Works Now in Social Media

Authors: 10XMarketing Seth Bridges
Posted Under: Social Pros Podcast
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Hosted By
10XMarketing

Anna Hrach

Convince & Convert
10XMarketing

Daniel Lemin

Convince & Convert
10XMarketing

Erika Lovegreen

ICUC Social
About Social Pros Podcast:

Social Pros is one of the most popular marketing podcasts in the world, and was recently named the best podcast at the Content Marketing Awards. Listen for real insight on the real people doing real work in social media. You get the inside stories and behind-the-scenes secrets about how companies like Ford, Dell, IBM, ESPN, and dozens more staff, operate, and measure their social media programs.

Thank you to our sponsor ICUC Social.

Follow Social Pros on LinkedIn.

To inquire to be or recommend a guest, please email leanna@convinceandconvert.com.


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@MissTriathlon

Seth Bridges, the Founder and Head of Product & Marketing at Rival IQ, joins this episode of Social Pros to discuss what it takes to keep engagement rates up and share his 2022 social media industry benchmark report.

Understanding Engagement RatesAnalysis of 5 million posts shows what works now in social media 

Getting likes is important, views are equally great, but what really ties everything together is a keen understanding of engagement rates.
Seth Bridges, the Founder and Head of Product & Marketing at Rival IQ believes in the importance of engagement rates so much that he’s published six installments of his benchmark report. For context, the report analyzed 5 million pieces of content across 14 industries to highlight the biggest engagement dos and don’ts.
In this conversation, Seth discusses the factors that affect engagement rates and emphasizes consistency. He also throws in some pointers on social media algorithms, including how to use them to your advantage.

In This Episode:

  • 03:39 – How Rival IQ helps social media marketers
  • 04:37 – The platforms covered in Rival IQ’s report
  • 07:09 – How industry and strategy affect engagement rates
  • 14:55 – Why Rival IQ analyzes both organic and paid posts across platforms
  • 19:31 – How consistency affects social media reach
  • 24:31 – Factors that affect engagement rates
  • 31:21 – The surprising aspects of Seth’s report
  • 36:37 – Jumping on popular hashtags vs creating your own
  • 40:11 – Seth’s advice for anyone looking to become Social Pros

Quotes From This Episode:

“Though numbers are down in our report, all isn’t lost for brands. They just need to invest and make a commitment to being consistently good on social media.” Click To Tweet
“Though numbers are down in our report, all isn’t lost for brands. They just need to invest and make a commitment to being consistently good on social media.” @seth_bridges
“You don’t get strong numbers through locker structure, you also need to have a strategy that’s well-executed, and shows that you understand your audience.” @seth_bridges

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Episode Transcript

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Seth

Bridges:

I've

done this calculation several times, and I feel confident enough sharing at least here with, with your audience, for every doubling of your posts that you do, you’re gonna get about 70% more engagement.

Jay

Baer:

I'll

tell you what Anna, that was a number that I didn’t necessarily see coming our guest this week on the show is Seth bridges. Who’s the co-founder and head of product and marketing at rival IQ, which was a terrific social media analysis platform that helps you figure out what’s working and what’s not working in your social strategy. And I guess I always sort of assumed that if you really doubled or tripled your publishing cadence that your total engagements would suffer. But Seth tells us that while your engagement rate will go down, your total engagements will go up. And I think that’s a pretty interesting takeaway amongst AC of interesting takeaways in this episode.

Anna

Hrach:

Yeah,

you hit it on the head. Jay, there were so many interesting takeaways from this episode and we dig into a lot of numbers, a lot of great stats. Seth has even more available in the research report, which we have for everybody at Bitly slash 2022 benchmark report. So many good takeaways, so much good data, a lot of great things that people can use to arm themselves strategically in this episode.

Jay

Baer:

Yeah,

I think one of the most useful and analytics centric episodes we’ve had in social pros for a long time, you’re gonna love this one and listen all the way through because it’s just solid gold till the very last second I’m Jay bearer from convince a convert she’s Anna Hrach from convince & convert. We’re delighted to have you here. Speaking of the social pros podcast we celebrated our 500th episode not long ago. And as part of that celebration, we put together a free ebook companion ebook that interviewed many of our previous guests over the past decade or so talked about what’s changed in social media predictions successes, some fun stuff. My favorite episodes and his favorite episodes. It’s, it’s a barn burner. Grab it. We won’t even charge you for it. We want you to have it go to Bitly slash social pros, 500 VIT dot L Y slash social pros 5 0 0. Grab the companion guide to our 500th episode and beyond here on social pros. Here he comes Seth bridges from rival IQ this week on the big show. In this episode of social pros, we have Mr. Seth bridges who knows more about social media data and success than just about anybody alive. Why? Because he is the co-founder and head of product and marketing at rival IQ. They have a spectacular new report. The 2022 social media industry benchmark report, where they looked at 14 different industries and what’s working in social. What’s not working in social. We’re gonna talk about it here on the show. Seth, welcome to social pros.

Seth

Bridges:

Hey

Jay, happy to be here. Hey Anna. Good morning.

Jay

Baer:

We

are psyched to have you and, and what another BFO version of the report friends, you need to pause the show and grab a browser and download this report now. And then we’ll talk about it. In this episode, go to Bitly slash 2022 benchmark report B I Y slash 2022 benchmark report to get all the goodness from rival IQ, Seth, I think it would make sense for the social pros community for you to just describe rival IQ first for folks who may not be familiar with the platform, please.

Seth

Bridges:

Yeah,

absolutely. So R Q is a social media analytics piece of software and we help social media marketers measure their own social performance and put it in the context of their competition. So you can really understand, are your numbers good, bad or ugly?

Jay

Baer:

Well,

hopefully not ugly, but you never know. We are big proponents of R IQ at convince and convert and use it all the time so much so that I was actually an early investor in R IQ big, big fan of what they do over there. If you haven’t checked it out, go to R iq.com and do yourself a demo. You will be happy about that. Now, Seth, in this report, you and your team analyzed like 5 million pieces of content across 14 industries to determine, as I mentioned, what’s working, what’s not working. What platforms did you cover and kind of what’s in that data set just to frame it up for folks, please.

Seth

Bridges:

Yeah,

absolutely. So this is a report that we’ve been doing for, I think this is the fifth or the sixth installment. I think we started back in 2015 and it looks at Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and yeah, you’re right. We sample 2,100 companies out of our database of hundreds, of thousands of handles. And we sample 150 companies for each of 14 landscapes. We’ve been looking at generally the same landscapes for several years. That’s really useful because it allows us to understand how these numbers are changing over time. Now we are looking at handles of a particular size. So we want to have a Facebook page size of at least 25,000 followers, but no more than a million. So we’re kind of putting out the smaller ones and the really big ones. Additionally, we’re looking for brands that are active on also on Instagram and Twitter. So if you’re like, we’re a Twitter rockstar, but we don’t do the other channels. Your, your data wouldn’t have gotten sampled into this report. So that methodology we’ve kept really consistent over the last few years to make sure that we’re able to not only provide good data for the in year, but also looking at trends year over

Jay

Baer:

Year.

Most folks who listen to social pros are probably aware of this, but will just emphasize it here. The reason why some of the other social media platforms that you may love and care about are not in the report is that they don’t have API access. It would allow you to do that kind of analysis, correct?

Seth

Bridges:

Yeah.

That that’s absolutely right. Everything we do at R I Q I is really based on the data that we can get all of the, the folks out there that are like, why don’t you benchmark reels? And I say, get on the phone and call our friends at Facebook up and ask him to put it in the API, please, cuz we would all love that a lot.

Anna

Hrach:

Agreed.

And I’m sure if that happened, that would not be unwelcome either. It’s advocating for that.

Seth

Bridges:

Absolutely.
Anna

Hrach:

Right.

Seth, so obviously we are gonna dive into so much of the report data today, but one of the things I have to start off with is you and the team have put a beautiful set of key takeaways at the very beginning of this report. And at first glance, I think what people are probably gonna see in these key takeaways is that people are posting more than ever. Brands specifically are posting more than ever, but engagement rates are continuing to decline. So before people take that and just feel that all hope is lost. Can you give them a quick preview as to why all hope is not lost and why there’s actually a lot that brands can do and why there’s still a lot of power in their hands?

Seth

Bridges:

Yeah,

absolutely. I think, I think the leading takeaway that we’ve probably published at the last, the top of LA, the last several reports has been that engagement rates are, are trending down here every year. And this year was certainly no different. I think we saw double digit declines on each of the three channels that we studied in the report. And Instagram was I think the biggest loser from a relative perspective, you know, 30% decline year over year or something like that. And you did mention also that activity rates did increase in, in 2021 from, from 2020. And that one is interesting because it turns out that in 2020, when you know, we were locking down the murder of George Floyd, a lot of brands backed off social media for the entirety. The summer into the early fall, 2020 was actually an anomaly in terms of brands really backing off of social media.

Seth

Bridges:

And,

and by the end of kind of Q4 2020 returning to the, to normal. And so in 2021, even though those rates were up, I would, I would almost characterize it as a return to normal as opposed, or, or return to sort of the 2019 numbers, as opposed to like a never ending trend of brands, putting more and more and more content out. But to, to go back to the other thing that, that you asked what’s in there for brands to be excited about. And I think the answer is remember that this report is benchmarking the medium, the brand that’s in the middle of it all. It means that 50% of brands are actually doing better, right? 50% of brands are, are outperforming that and 50% of brands are, are doing worse. We know that re reach is gonna decline on organic reach is gonna decline on platforms as we March on Instagram.

Seth

Bridges:

That

is the, that is the truth. It, you know, year over year, these declines are the, the decrease of organic reach it’s push to monetization. It’s also an increase of brands trying to be out there. An increase of influencers, just general growth of the platform means more things for any one person to see at one time. And the algorithms have to decide what do you really like to see? So what’s in there, if you’re good, there’s still a lot in, in a follow up report that we just published yesterday. We actually looked at what the benchmarks were for the top quartile, the best 25% of brands. And those numbers are two to three X higher than those mediums. So this report, even though these numbers are down, is not to say that all is lost for brands. It’s just that you need to invest and you actually need to make a commitment to being consistently good on social media. If you wanna receive a return from your investment,

Jay

Baer:

Seth,

one of the things that’s interesting in the report is there are pretty sharp contrasts in performance by category. We mentioned there’s 14 different industries that you benchmarked in the report and, and some are inherently more effective than others, at least as measured by engagement rate. So when you think about viable, successful social media approaches, which is most important being in the right industry or having the right strategy as a brand, regardless of industry

Seth

Bridges:

well, we don’t, we don’t just get to get up and choose to be in a different industry overnight. I can’t make a rival like you a higher ed you know, brand overnight

Jay

Baer:

Rival

like you university coming soon.

Seth

Bridges:

That's

right. Rival you. Definitely

Jay

Baer:

Good.

Al

Seth

Bridges:

You

know, I do like higher education. I spent way too much time in higher education, but that said we can’t pick up and, and change that said structurally, there are underlying sort of functions of these different industries where there is really good performance that I do think gives them a leg up on social media. If you look at the top performing industries across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, one, there’s a lot of consistency with respect to which industries actually top out. So we see higher ed, we see sports teams, we see influencers and we see nonprofits really rise to the top of all three of those channels with respect to engagement rates. And excuse me, I’ll pick higher ed for a second. The structural reasons that higher ed does so well, first of all, the breadth of the audience is incredible, right? You’ve got perspective students.

Seth

Bridges:

You've

got current students, you’ve got alumni, particularly as you get on in years, right? Your fondness like fondness only grows typically, right? And you forget all the, the frustrations, you forget all the other things. And so when you’re following your university, whether it’s because of sports, which is a whole, a fourth dimension of why higher education is such a good performer there’s something emotional. There’s something positive. Typically from a lot of the followers of a, of a university to connect with. And that shows in their engagement rates on Instagram, they’re like five X, the median, four to five X, the median in, in higher education. It’s those structural things, more than anything else, some of the top performers in higher ed, their engagement rates are pushing 5, 6, 7, like really big numbers for context. When I put pictures of my kids on my Instagram, even though I have a business profile, I’m getting 25%, right?

Seth

Bridges:

So

like, if that’s sort of the top of what you can hope for brands that are doing 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 themselves, it’s just tremendous. But to the second part of your question, Jay, you don’t get to 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 through locker structure. You also need to have a strategy that’s well executed that shows that you understand your audience, that shows you can be consistently good day over day, week, over week, year over year in terms of that execution. And so within Indi in, within any industry, there are gonna be top performers and there are gonna be bottom performers. It’s not a, just because right there can be beauty brands that do really well. There can be home decor brands that do really well. There can be alcohol brands that do really well. There can also be universities that don’t do very well. And so you, you kind of need to have both.

Seth

Bridges:

And

this is why the benchmarking data is so important to know that you’re a top performer and a particular industry is really relative to the other types of brands that you’re there with. And that’s why we, that’s why we published this report. People always ask, is this good? I, I have an engagement rate of 0.9% on Instagram. Is, is that good? That is literally the definition of why benchmarking is so important. The answer is, it depends. It depends what you’re selling to whom what’s your audience on what channel. And once you have that data, you can tell a much better story to your stakeholders. You can plan your strategy more effectively because you understand where you’re outperforming. You understand where you’re not performing and where you might need to, to kind of sharpen the pencil a little bit more.

Jay

Baer:

I

think it merits repeating that the individual companies and organizations included in this report were selected randomly from amongst all of the clients that use R IQ. So this is not the top 50 high education accounts, the top 30 alcohol brands, the top 75 beauty brands. It is a random sample. So from a benchmarking perspective, much more valid than just saying, well, how do we stack up against Pepsi or Stanford, which is a notoriously fantastic higher education brand from an engagement rate perspective. So I, I just wanna make sure that social pros listeners understand it, because if you’re trying to say, how are we doing versus our category? And this is very much a superior methodology than, than making yourself sad by saying, well, we’re not one of the top 20, well, there may be reasons for that. And as Seth pointed out, strategy absolutely matters. And if you need a social media strategy, I would be wise to mention that convince a convert can help you with that. Call us maybe and all that kind of thing. Hey, Seth, one other clarifying question, does this data set include organic and paid posts or one of the other I’m sure social pros listeners are pondering that

Seth

Bridges:

Fantastic

question. And the answer is it depends like all things. So it’s a channel by channel answer here. And this kind of goes back to that same thing that I was joking with Instagram about earlier with Anna about reals. So on Instagram, this data is purely organic. There are, there is no boosted engagement in this data set. If you were to go into R I Q or any other tool that allows you to look competitively at, at social media performance from business pages, you might find a situation where you look in the tool like you’re looking in R IQ and you go, oh, the top post from Stanford, whatever has 5,000 likes on it. And then you go on your phone and you’re looking at Instagram and you see this post has 30,000 likes on it and you go, well, wait, is, does R IQ not work?

Seth

Bridges:

Does

this other tool not work? And the answer is no, the API from inst from Instagram only gives the organic engagement and on the platform, we all see the combined total. So in some ways it’s great cuz you go well, there’s 25,000 boosted links on that post. But of course from the, from my perspective, from where I said, I kind of wanna have all, all the data to give clients and customers the best perspective. So in this report, this is purely organic. There is no impact of boosting whatsoever a single Instagram amount because the opposite is gonna be true for Facebook and Twitter in this report. So the Facebook data is a blended look at both boosted and organic engagement. And even though R like he was a platform actually has some really nice AI to start to check how much of that engagement and which posts have likely been influenced by boosts. We actually don’t separate it out. We’re really concerned with kind of communicating the total customer perceived impact from that. So yeah, you’re gonna see some, some boosted performance, at least pushing on the top end of, of some folks performing in Facebook, Twitter as well though. My belief is that boosting posts on Twitter is a much, much less frequent occurrence than we would even see on Facebook. So that though it is in there, I, I don’t actually believe it’s having an outsized impact on any of the numbers that we’re seeing on Twitter

Jay

Baer:

From

an overall publishing cadence perspective. It appears in the data that with some exceptions by industry, generally speaking, it’s safe to say that most brands across most categories are posting once per business. Day-Ish right. I mean, that’s, that’s kind the, the general band of, of frequency that being the case, Seth, we talked a moment ago about social media strategy and it having an impact on, on success. Clearly, if you’re gonna try a different social media strategy, you’re, you are a brand and you’re like, you know what, what we’re doing now, isn’t working, we’re gonna try a different premise, different content, maybe a different format, et cetera, how long or how many posts should that brand give it before they decide whether this approach is working? What, what becomes statistically valid? And I, and I ask you as somebody who spends a lot of time thinking about statistical validity.

Seth

Bridges:

Yeah,

absolutely. I, you know, I like I’m, I’m proud of this report. I think my team does a great job, but from a data analysis perspective, I really have worked as hard as possible to help us produce what I believe are truly valid reports. I read all. And if you’re a brand out there and you’re publishing a report like this, trust me, I’m, I’m reading it and I’m, this is gonna sound horrible. But like, I I’m judging the methodology, right? Like I wanna understand, particularly when the results look, I’ve seen results that say Instagram engagement is five X, what we’re reporting, or 10 X, what we’re reporting and you go, it’s a sampling difference. It’s a methodology difference or whatever it is. But like, I feel very, sort of very good about the methodology that’s that’s happening here because I’m reflecting it against actual client data all the time.

Seth

Bridges:

And

it, I, I truly believe it’s a good, it’s a good look. So you talked about one, one post of business day. I think on average, what we saw across the entirety report is about yeah. Four and a half posts a week. And, you know, sadly, I think we see that. Yeah. A lot of brands do just publish during the weekday right. Monday through Friday and, and leave the weekends up. You know, some industries are slightly different sports teams, right? Like if you’re in the NFL, you’re probably posting on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, et cetera. But there’s a lot of engagement to be people don’t stop using social media on the weekend. And there is a recency right. With, to the, with respect to the algorithm. And so there’s always opportunity there as well, but how long, you know, you make a, a strategy shift and it could be a strategy shift, or it could be a special campaign that you’re running.

Seth

Bridges:

How

long to know until it works. Here’s the thing. I believe that consistency is really, really important with respect to algorithms. So if you’re telling me you’re someone who posts three times a week on Instagram, let’s just, we’ll pick on Instagram here for a second three times a week means if you have them evenly spaced through the week, you’ve got about two days for each post to breathe, right. For each post to sort of be out there. And what we know from Instagram is that the, the time to live for those posts can be several days long. If you’re a band that posts just once a week, you might be collecting likes on that post for several days, because Instagram doesn’t have anything else from you to serve. And the content was getting enough engagement that they think it’s worthy of serving out. Even if it’s 2, 3, 4 days old, you’re probably gonna have really high engagement rates.

Seth

Bridges:

Similarly,

if you post every day, you’re going along, Instagram kind of gets that right. And so when things start to get about a day old, that the reach might tail off, well, if you dramatically go from one post a week and then overnight shift it to one post a day, the algorithm is gonna take a little while to adjust. In fact, from looking at data, I would say it takes anywhere from seven to 14 days to actually adjust to understand how much reach should we be giving this post. Similarly, if you’re going from we post once a day and we wanna back off to twice a week, well, you’re not gonna get very much reach on those first couple posts because they’re expecting you to put more out the next day. And so why would they overdo it and give you a ton of reach that, that you don’t deserve?

Seth

Bridges:

There's

a, there’s a time, you know, a time lag on all this stuff. And so one, this is why I think it’s incredibly important to be consistent with your posting frequency, because it absolutely plays in to the amount of organic reach that you’re gonna get on any given post. But second, I, because I believe that time lag to sort of, for, for frequency changes to settle out. Yeah. One to two weeks is probably how long you’re gonna wanna let things sit before you start being really serious about going, oh, now what can we expect from a go forward? The reason I called out special campaigns, I see this so often and it actually messes people up in a way. I don’t think they understand. Let’s say it’s something really good’s happening. It’s the beginning of here’s one. I’ve seen a lot. It’s the beginning of pride month, right?

Seth

Bridges:

It's

June 1st, every brand is like, we’re, we’re big supporters of the LGBTQ community. And we’re gonna do like a big pride campaign. We usually post twice a week. We’re gonna do seven posts in one day about pride. Well, one like you might get a bunch of reach on one or two of those posts, but all of a sudden, now Instagram’s going, Hmm, they’ve really upped it. We’re gonna dial back the amount of reach that we’re gonna start giving them for the next few weeks. And then what happens is you go, wow, these posts that we did after pride, like, did we alienate? People did like what happened? No, you just told Instagram through your behavior that you’re probably gonna start posting a lot more. And so these big, huge spikes, like they’re for a great reason, you wanna put a lot of pride posts out.

Seth

Bridges:

You're

excited about pride. Great. But the, that result is that you’ve just taught the algorithm something. And so I think you kind of need to be judicious as you make changes in how much you post. And then similarly, big shift, you’re targeting a new audience, putting a new content type out. You really have to like work it through several weeks to also mitigate all of the, were these morning posts or afternoon posts, weekday post weekend post. Was there something big happening in the world? You know, did you start this campaign around election day? And the world was paying attention to something else? And so you’re actually, you know, the correlation of this thing didn’t do well, had nothing to do with you. It had something to do with, with everyone else. We see elections, we see holidays, we see insurrections, we see any kind of thing happening in society at large get reflected in these, in these medians and how they move around week by week, day by day. So, yeah, I I’m, I’m like a two to three week person before I’m making any judgments about big changes and you gotta stick with it. You gotta stay consistent to understand, did we make a change, good change, bad change, or just no change?

Anna

Hrach:

I,

I, first off, I love everything that you just said and, and just demonstrating the complexity of these algorithms and how we just have this tendency sometimes I think is social pros to think, okay, if I just have this magic combination, it’s instant success, or, you know, it’s real time. So therefore this, this data must be back in real time. And that’s a, that’s proof positive of what happened here, but, you know, taking a step back, understanding all the data, looking at exactly how the algorithms work, I think is something we don’t dive into a lot of nuances with. And you also touched on this in your webinar and specifically on the other side of the coin with engagement rates and how algorithms really touch on that. And I think there are some things there that we also forget as social pros too.

Anna

Hrach:

And

you brought up specifically, you know, dear followers use social anymore. Do they log on regularly? Do they engage with content frequently? Have, have they engaged with your content recently? And all of these things go into engagement rates. So I think we have this tendency to look at, you know, exactly what you were talking about with reach and on the same, in the same way that we look at engagement rates, like, well, if we just have this magic combination that equals success, but can you unpack a little bit more specifically, some of those factors you talked about and why it’s not as simple as we think it is?

Seth

Bridges:

Yeah.

let’s, let’s ju jump into that, all those behaviors of our followers that I think end up driving reach, which ends up driving engagement. And, and yeah, I gave a talk last week. And, and what I was trying to do for, for folks is unpack, why are these engagement rates going down and sort of testing a few theories? The thing I wanna throw out up front though, that I think is so important. A student asked this in a lecture. I gave it at Auburn university a couple weeks ago. And the question was like, should I post less to get a higher engagement rate? And that’s when I had to say, oh, I said, okay, we gotta, we gotta clarify something. Engagement rate is not the outcome engagement rate is not the goal engagement rate is a diagnostic that helps us understand across brands. So to normalize things, to look across different groups, how are we performing relative to another?

Seth

Bridges:

If

you post more, like you go from two posts a week to four posts a week or four posts a week to eight post a week, or whatever, like your engagement rate’s gonna go down. Absolutely. Because you’re spreading the reach. You’re gonna get across more posts. Now you’re gonna get more reach because you’re posting more. In fact, we have never published this, but I’ve done this. I’ve done this calculation several times. And I feel confident enough sharing at least here with, with your audience, for every doubling of your posts that you do, you’re gonna get about 70% more engagement. So you’re not gonna double, you’re not gonna get a hundred percent more. You’re gonna get about 70% more. And I think that holds true. Whether you’re going from two to four, four to eight, eight to 16, we work with some brands that publish 35 times a week.

Seth

Bridges:

You

know, they’re out there five times a day, they get a lot more total engagement. They get a lot more impressions, their engagement rates compared to what you see in this study are kind of stinky, right? You have to take a little bit of that in, into you have to take a little bit that into context. If you have enough followers that you can post that many times a day, and you’re literally picking up folks around the globe, different time zones, go back to the questions you asked are my followers even logging in anymore. If you’ve been building this following of particular, take Facebook, right? People go, these rates are horrible. You’ve been building your Facebook fan base for how many years. I don’t wanna age all of us, but like many, many more than a decade. And it’s highly likely that many of those people don’t care about you anymore.

Seth

Bridges:

Or

you bought them God forbid or something else that maybe wasn’t smart followers don’t age out. Right? That number just kind of gross. I mean, yeah. Facebook calls things every once in a while for, for bots or folks that have, have passed away or whatever. But like generally the follower account just grows. So of those people, how many of them are actually still logging on how many of them care about you? How many of them, when they see your content engage with it. And I, they could like comment cetera. Like that’s the most, you know, the, the most sort of tangible thing that we can see, but watching a video, clicking zooming in on a photo, checking things out, all those things are absolutely signs of engagement to the platforms. You know, we, you’ve seen probably a lot of stories recently about TikTok, right?

Seth

Bridges:

Number

one, engagement metric. Isn’t if you click alike or comment, it’s the watch time. You, you watch every, you watch a ton of videos. You never like anything TikTok still learns. And these other platforms are no, no different. So if you start asking all these questions, oh, I’ve got a new account. So all my fellows are kind of recent. I know they care about me. Now we’re starting to get into, do they engage with you? Do they engage with you frequently? And how recently have they engage with you? I have people I love on Twitter. And every once in a while I go, wow, I haven’t seen their content in a while. It’s not that they stopped publishing it’s that when I had a chance to engage with them, when the algorithm gave it to me, I didn’t dwell long enough. I didn’t click in, I didn’t click the link.

Seth

Bridges:

I

didn’t like it, whatever. And you know, there’s plenty of content out there and there’s stuff I did do that. Twitter learns Instagram, learns Facebook learns. And so if this is goes back to my consistency point, if you’re not consistently putting out the things or a breadth of things that sort of attract all of the different types of audience members that you have and engaging them, those folks will drop away. Then you have to figure out how am I gonna reengage them, right? You might be doing some targeted paid, or some targeted boosting to try to reengage folks. Some other ways like that are off of social media that might bring them back to social, et cetera. All these things are valid to try to up that total quotient of percentage of your followers that are still align, that are engaging with you all the time or frequently and within some reasonable amount of time.

Jay

Baer:

And

that’s frustrating, of course, for a lot of social media managers that, that all of a sudden you have accumulated these fans or followers, but then they don’t see your content. And, and therefore the engagement rate drops. But I just wanna remind everybody that this is the way everything works, right? This is the way email works as well. If you send an email to somebody who’s on your list over and over, and they never open it or click on it, eventually that email will go into the gray folder and, and Google, or whoever is your email client will, will kind of pocket veto it and hide it. And, and you’ll be off the list and friends let’s take a, a trip on the way back machine. This is the way holiday cards also work, right? You send somebody a holiday card for a bunch of years.

Jay

Baer:

You

never get one back, or you haven’t seen that person in nine years. You’re gonna call your cards like, you know what, I’m not sending cards to this person anymore, cuz they don’t send me one or whatever. This, this is just the way relationships work. And I think sometimes we’re, we’re too click too quick to beone the algorithm without recognizing that what the algorithms are trying to do is obviously maximize profits for the creators of the algorithm. I think we should be clear about that. But beyond that, they’re also trying to replicate the way human relationships work in a digital environment. So is it painful when all of a sudden your engagement rate drops or you don’t feel like you’re getting a fair shake? Yeah. But one of the things you’ll notice in this report is that you can succeed with organic social, this idea that you cannot is not true.

Jay

Baer:

Is

it easy? Of course it’s not easy. Certainly not as easy as it was 10 years ago, but it is absolutely possible. So if you’re not succeeding with your social media program, the algorithm is not the villain. You are the villain, your strategy is the villain. Your content is the villain. You have to do something different or better, but saying, well it’s a rigged game. We can’t win. That’s not gonna get you anywhere. What is gonna get you somewhere is downloading this report. You can find it at Bitly slash 2022 benchmark report B I T dot L Y slash 2022 benchmark report from Seth bridges and his amazing team at rival IQ. Seth is our guest this week on social pros and Seth, I think as you mentioned, this is the fifth or sixth edition of this annual benchmark report. So I wanna ask you a question that you may not have an answer for. I hope so we can play stump the Seth.

Seth

Bridges:

Oh,

let’s try.

Jay

Baer:

What

surprised you in this report that you’re like, I didn’t see that coming.

Seth

Bridges:

You

know, because I spent a lot of time digging in to publish a follow on re follow report yesterday. There actually were a few, few surprises, you know, that the key headline and, and Anna asked this right up front was declining, organic reach across all these platforms. And we even went further to say like in the report, well, it’s just evidence of you know, a push to paid. And we hear that from more and more clients, particularly in some of these industries that are so reliant on or not even reliant, they’ve been successful for a long time in selling on social media. Right. They’re closer to the, to the spend, particularly you’ll get kind of beauty skincare type of brands who do well with Instagram, shopping, a lot of influencers, et cetera. So I go through the data and you start breaking it down and asking, okay, well who’s good.

Seth

Bridges:

And

you know, who’s done really well relatively to others. Great. I already talked about higher education, sports teams, influencers, et cetera. But then you ask, well how’d, they do year over year and this is, this is the thing that actually, that actually got me, because again, we, we don’t tend to overly focus in the report doing year to year comparisons. We try to keep it clean, clean takeaways for people, but you know, I look, I, I got a PhD in computer science. I’m a big nerd when it comes down to it, I will spend as many minutes on this as I can. Those industries, they actually didn’t experience such precipitous declines when, when compared to the benchmark. So like on Instagram, for example, higher ed, they only saw 6% down from the year before. So they were at 3.2% last year, they were at 3%.

Seth

Bridges:

This

year sports teams was actually up. And I was surprised until I thought about it, 2020. Did we have a lot of live sports? No, I mean, we had some sports or we had sports with no audiences. We had canceled seasons. We had partial seasons. We had the bubble right in the NBA. So on Instagram sports seems were actually up 3%. Now 3% probably rounds to zero. But when the cross industry median was down 30, 30, 30, 2%, whatever, plus three that’s, that’s actually quite of notable sports teams also on Twitter up almost 20% Facebook up 47% year over year. So that one just blew me away. It’s like, okay, we have one industry that really bucked the trend across the board. All three channels saw from a small modest to like sizable increase in engagement rates. Facebook actually showed growth in engagement rates for higher ed and our influencer segment as well.

Seth

Bridges:

So

all three, all of that for me was like, oh, I’m pleasantly surprised that I don’t have to report cross the board. Whether it’s cross industry, single industry doesn’t matter. No, we actually have pockets of folks that did particularly well. And I’m always pleasantly surprised to dig in. Cuz one of the questions you get is like, who are some of the top brands? And we have live benchmarks that we publish on the website that get updated every day that shows some how, how some of these top brands are performing. And you still see brands that consistently do well without any, no gimmicks, no shenanigans, no nothing that no other brand could do. I in my talk last week, I, I spoke on Yingling brewing. Okay. They had like a 1.7, 1.8% engagement rate, something like that. In 2021 and the alcohol average is only 0.7.

Seth

Bridges:

So

they’re, you know, north of double and I always go and you ask what drove some of their best content and you often see you know, contests, for example, contest giveaways. That’s a, that’s a fine thing to do. I think brands that do them frequently or sort of on a good periodic basis, but not too frequently, tend to see the best results. If you do all giveaways all the time, like nobody wants to follow that. And if you do one a year, it doesn’t really drive. You Yingling top content. There was no contest. There was no giveaways. It was like they were trolling Facebook about the name changed the meta and then it was all, Hey, we’re distributing now in Texas, right? A big campaign about moving their distribution to Texas celebrating some of their most notable fans, right. There was a, a post they did with a 105 year old woman who drinks a LAGR a day, whatever, like just good quality content that they know resonates with their audience and consistently delivered throughout the year.

Seth

Bridges:

You

know, pretty much rock solid, four or five posts a week all year. And you go, oh, that’s you do it right. Consistent on brand. People know what to expect. And it shouldn’t be surprising when you see brands doing it. Right. And then getting the results because that’s what we coach people to do. That’s what you, you coach people like this is literally the definition of your existence over there, right. At C and C is like, let us teach you how to do it better all the time. But it is still a really pleasant surprise to find folks actually doing it and actually achieving the results.

Jay

Baer:

Yeah.

Here’s a strategy. Just be interesting. Try that on

Seth

Bridges:

For

a while. I’ve been trying that for my 44 years here, Jay we’ll.

Jay

Baer:

last question for me, Seth, before we get to the, the big two that we close each episode with here at social pros, some really interesting data in the report on hashtags. So let me ask you a question that I’ve been wondering about for a while. If you had to pick, do you find it to be a superior approach to jump on a hashtag that is being used throughout the zeitgeist or create your own hashtag

Seth

Bridges:

The

latter? Oh two, excuse me. The, the creating mine is the latter. No, the former, sorry. The former we making your own can be a thing for very particular reasons. If you are big enough and you actually have the oomph to maybe create a hashtag around your brand will find anybody should be able to create a hashtag around their brand. That’s a good idea, but creating a hashtag to just make a new thing that is, that is gonna be a real challenge. You have to ask, why am I using a hashtags? And again, I’m gonna focus on Instagram here for a second primary reason to, to, to use a hashtag is to get found by people who are not your followers, right? So we’ve got people who follow hashtags, we’ve got discover and hashtags, there’s an explicit binding on. You can follow a hashtag right on Instagram.

Seth

Bridges:

I

follow many hashtags on Instagram. That’s how I get new content in front of my eyeballs. I think lots and lots of people do that. And so if your aim is really to broaden your audience, you know, my be is to use, use the hashtags. Now this is important. Use the hashtags that everybody’s using, but not everybody, right. You kind of have to think about getting as niche as you can, to what it is you’re, you’re trying to attract, but not, but not GLM onto the, the things that like everyone puts into every post using a hashtag research tool, using the search to understand volumes within Instagram itself, that we have some nice tools in, in R Q that help you do this as well. You’ve gotta dial in and find the right hashtags for you. That’s that’s my belief. You know, the marketing superstars that come up with these campaigns, that out, out of the blue and drive the conversation. Yeah. Good for you. You can make your own hashtags, make your own branded hashtags, ask your fans to tag you, to get featured from a U GC perspective. Like there’s lots of reasons to make your own hashtag, but getting found by new people is not typically not one of them.

Jay

Baer:

You

heard it there from Seth bridges. One thing I wanted to mention to social pros listeners, one of my favorite elements of the R IQ platform, not for nothing is the breakout post alert. So you can set an alert in your rev IQ dashboard, either for your own brand and or any of the competitors that you care about in your category. And if they publish something that gets disproportionate engagement and engagement rate and is like, look, their, their historical benchmark is X. And all of a sudden today they posted something about whatever and it’s four X. You can actually get an instantaneous alert about that in your inbox, which is really handy. If all of a sudden somebody’s jumping on a trend, like a hashtag you’re like, oh, we are caught unawares. And we didn’t realize our competitor was on top of this. And we weren’t. And it’s really, really useful for social media managers. That’s one of my favorite features.

Seth

Bridges:

Yeah.

I, I appreciate the shout out for that. It is one of my favorite features as well. And you know, we’re, we’re, we’re a software company, right? We’re, we’re a SaaS company and we, we care a lot about our metrics and we care a lot about making sure that people are getting good utilization outta the platform. We have, we have folks who hardly ever log in and we’ve asked them what, tell me about that. And you know, what the answer, the thing you just called out, the, these alerts that do the work for me that keep their finger in the pulse and get it in my inbox. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I pay you this money. And you know what? That is a totally valid, totally valid thing. And so I, I appreciate the call. I love that feature too.

Jay

Baer:

The

report. One more time. The 20, 22 social media industry benchmark report go to B I dot Y slash 2022 benchmark report. Won’t cost you anything. Seth, last two questions for you that we ask everybody here on the social pros program. First, if you were going to give one tip to somebody who would like to become a social pro, what would you tell them?

Seth

Bridges:

Well,

I, I think I would I, I can’t take this question and let it, and let it go without saying something about really understanding some basic data concepts and particularly basic data concepts with respect to social media. I think there are lots of people who are very creative in the world. There are people who are savvy about social media platforms, et cetera, and the person who’s gonna find really a lot of success in social media is someone who can combine those with you know, an elementary or elementary kind of plus plus level of data awareness. Because now you can put that sort of left brain, right brain together, and really find a ton of success.

Jay

Baer:

All

right. So that final question. If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be?

Seth

Bridges:

Wow.

I only get to pick one. Huh? I, I think I would have to say Obama, Barack Obama. I would, I would kill to ask a whole bunch of a whole bunch of behind the scenes questions that he probably couldn’t even answer, but I would ask him anyway,

Jay

Baer:

You've

got all kinds of API access. You could probably just DM him if he tried hard enough.

Seth

Bridges:

yeah.

Jay

Baer:

You

know, I feel like nobody would happy

Seth

Bridges:

About

that over there at the state department or anything, but

Jay

Baer:

Yeah.

Yeah. I, I like your, you, you know, you get a PhD in computer science, you can figure it out.

Seth

Bridges:

I,

what you would think yeah. Just means I’m stubborn, Jay. That’s what that means.

Jay

Baer:

exactly.

Anna

Hrach:

I

was just gonna say, I’m also starting to think of all of the episodes of social pros. I think Barack and Michelle are at the top. I think we just start a collective social pros campaign, send them all of the recordings and then we can get everybody back together for like a reunion show with Barack and Michelle.

Jay

Baer:

I,

I think that would get a lot of downloads.

Seth

Bridges:

I,

I think you would get a ton of downloads. I will tell you all, I dunno, if you went, you know, every year HubSpot has their, their inbound show and a few years back when, you know, we could actually go to these things. They had Michelle Obama being interviewed by Roxanne gay and it was absolutely incredible. I felt like, wow, okay. Inbound, the, the, the, the, the talent team has really killed it here. I can stop going to all conferences now because it probably won’t get better than that.

Anna

Hrach:

Nice.
Jay

Baer:

Well

done on the report, Seth, thank you so much friends. Make sure you download a copy of it regardless of your industry, you will find it valuable, Anne. And I found it fascinating. I’m sure Seth will do the report again. Next year. We’ll be able to have him back on the show and talk about what has changed. Probably engagement rate will be down is my prediction, but, but we’ll see,

Seth

Bridges:

You

know, that’s a good prediction, Jay

Jay

Baer:

.

Thank you, Seth. Thanks for being here. We appreciate it.

Seth

Bridges:

Appreciate

you having me.

Jay

Baer:

I'm

Jay bearer from convince and convert. She Anna har rock from convince and convert. Thanks as always for listening to what is hopefully your favorite podcast on the entire planet. This has been social pro.

CC

EP 514 – Edited (Completed 05/13/22)

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