With a decreasing reach on social media year after year, an increasingly high cost of advertising due to growing competition for a spot on the news feed, and the fact that they have reached a ceiling with ads, companies are beginning to turn to organic growth in the hopes of finding a way forward.
But identifying the right levers is difficult and some companies are struggling to change the way they communicate and engage with their audience.
Among all others, there is one sector that has completely reinvented its model and learned how to adapt to social media better than others.
What happened in the media industry
The media have suffered one of the toughest shocks with the advent of the internet. For those who survived, even the biggest, they had to rethink their model and find new sources of growth.
In France alone, the 130 largest media outlets went from less than 6 publications per day on Facebook on average in 2016 to about 17 in 2018 - with 14 of the best performers regularly going up to 50 posts per day... And sometimes more than 100!
Paradoxically, the segment in the media that has best leveraged organic growth on social media is the press - coming from a 100% printed paper model, they have moved to an increasingly digital model where they attract their audience to their website through organic engagement on social media.
What platforms for what purpose
Traffic is the source of revenue for the media, and they use all available channels to grow it: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat...
The more intense focus on one platform rather than another depends on the presence and activity of their audience - for example, a national television channel will rarely use LinkedIn for its traffic whereas a specialized business and economy press title will be more present on the social network.
Engaging their communities
Presence and activity are still key here, as well as knowing one's audience - ways of engaging can be as varied as launching a contest or creating a fan-led reading group.
This is particularly true for Facebook, Instagram or Youtube, where people spend a lot of time and engage a lot.
Communicating about the brand
When the media communicate about their brand as a company or employer, they do it mainly on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Once again, the question is whether the usage your audience makes of each social network and what they expect to find on each of them.
The social network they have learned to always take advantage of is Facebook - half the planet is on it and 1/5th of the world's population is active on it daily.
What their volumes show
Among the sample of 130 French media outlets mentioned above, during the last 2 quarters of 2018 on Facebook:
- They published 16 posts per day on average
- They reached 104 engagements*/post, excluding clicks
- On average, when they published more than 40 times per day, they increased their number of fans by 127/day over 6 months - whereas when they published less than 6 times per day, they increased their number of fans by only 3/day - that's 42 times more fans acquired!
- Media outlets that published more than 40 posts per day at least 20 times/month increased their number of fans by an average of 6.7% over 6 months - whereas those that published less than 6 posts per day at least 20 times/month increased their number of fans by an average of 0.3% - a 22 times higher increase!
- Across the sector, the most successful types of posts were:
- Videos: 1 post/day - 145 engagements*/post (excluding clicks) → videos are used to generate awareness, engagement and revenue
- Photos: 1 post/day - 112 engagements*/post (excluding clicks) → photos are used to generate awareness and engagement
- Links: 13 posts/day - 100 engagements*/post (excluding clicks) → links are used to generate revenue
- There was no clear correlation in the sector between engagement and hours and days of publication - this varied from one media outlet to another, and in many cases there was no best time or period to publish posts
- And they proved one thing: the more you publish... The more you publish. Engagement varies from post to post but tends to be the same between posts #1 and #60 (data beyond that is not statistically significant at the moment - stay tuned!) - thus undermining the legend of engagement plummeting after the first post.
This means, in the end, that if a post typically gives you 100 engagements, if you publish 10 times a day, you should generate about 1000 engagements/day - and if you publish 60 times a day, you should generate about 6000 engagements/day.
What we can learn from their experience
An important element behind the strategy of high volumes is the economic model: the media generate revenue through advertising impressions (i.e. every time someone visits one of their websites, they make money), and through subscriptions, videos, and "instant articles".
Obviously, not all sectors follow this model, but in many cases you can generate leads and conversions using the same kind of strategy - and what the media have understood is that you will generate revenue by providing your community with what they expect from you: your core business.
If I'm an online music store on social media, is it because I want to learn to play music through tutorials or because I know I can buy quality brands at reduced prices there?
And what do I expect from them? Probably that they alert me when they have good discounts or a new brand/product range available that might interest me.
Will I stop following them if one of their products appears on my feed once or twice a day? That's unlikely.
When I drive on a road every day and see a store's billboard on the side of the road, will I stop looking at that billboard or going to that store? Or completely stop taking that road?
If I stop following that music store online from the example above, maybe it's because I wasn't going to buy from them at all.
Could it be a way for this store to filter out fans who wouldn't engage enough to convert?
The chart below from a June 2018 study by Yes Marketing shows what matters to people who follow retail companies on social media.
For 62% of them, it's to know when there will be discounts and 60% to be informed of the availability of new products.
Why spend time trying to engage with people on something that is not your core business? And why not organically post what you would advertise on that same platform?
And let's remember: with 1 post, you reach a small portion of the people who follow you (less than 10% on most social networks) - which implies that there is a lot of margin before anyone gets annoyed because they received too much of your content.
There are many ways to approach your social media strategy but one thing we can learn from the media is that you can post more, generate direct sales through your posts while gaining more fans.
And as we know, the more fans you have, the more engagement you get - so the more revenue you can generate through your publications.
With Nonli, you can easily automate the way you publish and do more in less time. Not to mention the additional benefits you get like social listening or traffic monitoring.
- Facebook defines engagement as the number of clicks, likes, shares and comments on a post