There’s no arguing that social media has become a huge part of modern day life on the internet. It is estimated that, globally, 3.6 million people use some form of social media, accounting for nearly 50% of humans on earth. And wherever people spend time, marketers will find ways to connect with them (hopefully in a method appropriate for the time, place, and platform). As of 2017, more than 90% of businesses use social media marketing. So, while your audience is spending time on social media, so are your competitors, potentially overwhelming them with messaging and advertising. Because of this, it’s more important than ever to engage your audience organically and authentically. It’s also crucial to identify what messaging resonates on organic social media, and why.
The Importance of Organic Social Media
Your audience is spending time on social media, but advertising saturation is at an all time high
As we already addressed, year after year we see all time high numbers of people using social media. Facebook and Instagram are still at the top, with 2.6 billion and 1 billion monthly active users, respectively, but TikTok is quickly making up for lost time with an estimated 800 million people using the platform each month. What’s more, platform users are spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes on social networks and messaging apps each and every day. While these engagement numbers are higher than they’ve ever been, so is ad spending and media saturation in social media. Experts project social media advertising revenue in the United States to increase 20% from 2019 to 2020, totaling more than $43 billion. But, at the same time, the ad reach on Facebook only grew 1% in the last quarter of 2019, signaling that the saturation limit is very near. As saturation rises, so too does the cost of reaching your audience, placing a higher importance on organic engagement and reach.
Social media drives site traffic
It’s no surprise that, as popular as it has become, social media is a reliable driver of organic website traffic. One study found that 67% of affiliate marketers weigh social media as the second most important traffic source, just behind organic search. As social media popularity continues to grow, the platforms have become a source of truth for internet searchers. 58% of consumers will visit a company or brand’s social media profiles before visiting their website, making social media the gateway to site visits. This leads us to our next point…
Social media has a strong influence on consumer behavior
That stat about more than half of consumers visiting a social media page before the website? There’s good reason. 54% of people use social media to research products and brands before making a purchase decision. And that’s not the only thing they’re looking for when coming to your pages: they’re searching for validation from their networks. In one survey on social media and buying influence, “81 percent of respondents admitted that recommendations and posts from family and friends directly impacted on their buying decisions.” The same survey found that 78% of people say they’re influenced by companies’ social media posts themselves.
Okay, you get it. But what about the organic social optimization piece?
As marketers, we’re more inclined to relentlessly measure and optimize the marketing efforts that we’re pumping money into. This is only natural, given the need to prove the tangible return on investment. But considering the fact that social media advertising saturation is only intensifying as the years go on, there’s only so much reach and optimization to be had. With the right content, organic social media engagement is usually much higher than paid media, and people are inclined to share with their networks, which in turn then impacts consumer behavior. So how do you optimize your organic social media activity? It is, of course, quite similar to paid media optimization, with one key component to keep in mind: keeping the social in social media will get you further in the long run.
Consider what metrics are most important to you
Are you trying to build a large following? Or is improving engagement from your existing organic audience more important? When optimizing and iterating, these goals and statistics should stay top of mind. An image that gets shared 10x more than your average post is great, but not if your goal was purchase conversions and you didn’t earn any.
Learn from your past social media activity
Rather than starting from scratch, gather your historical social media activity data and see what learnings you can uncover. Do static images perform better on Facebook, while videos perform better on Instagram? Is something more likely to be shared if you use bright colors in the imagery? Whether you’ve been utilizing social media marketing for a year or a decade, there are undoubtedly things to take away from the hard work you’ve already done.
Lucky for you, there are a number of tools that help you not only learn from existing social media activity, but that also pin activity data against the metrics that are most important to you. Just recently, we expanded our integration with Facebook to enable our Creative Intelligence tool to be applied to organic activity on both Facebook and Instagram. For more details, check out our blog announcement, or reach out to get a demo of Creative Intelligence.