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To Post (or not To Post)

That’s the question many social media coordinators are asking amid expected Facebook algorithm changes

I talk a lot. Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to run my mouth, especially when it comes to topics that I am passionate about. One of the tools I use to keep myself in check is to ask myself if what I am about to say is important. Perspective is important here. I have to consider the relevance and value from my listener’s perspective, not just my own.

Writing does not come as easily for me, but a serendipitous query from one of our marketing services clients quickly brought things into focus. The question was simple: How often should I post to social media?

The simple answer is similar to my advice above. Speak when you have something to say, and make sure it’s something your audience is interested in. The longer answer is more complex.

Recommendations abound from social media experts who claim that you should post a certain number of times per day, and at specific times each day. Be cautious before you invest time and effort into quick-fix advice from self-proclaimed experts — there is no universal formula for post quantity or frequency.

1_BakerChart

Many of you may be wondering if an organic social strategy is even relevant or important. So let’s answer that first.

Marketers have shifted attention away from organic strategy in recent years, and for good reason. Many businesses have seen a consistent decline in the average organic reach of Facebook and Instagram posts. A study by Hootsuite showed that the average reach of organic posts at the end of 2020 was 5.2 percent. (In 2019, it was 5.5 percent, and in 2018, it was 7.7 percent.) When the Facebook algorithm shifted purpose from “helping you find relevant content” to “helping you create meaningful connections,” organic business posts took a big hit.

Despite these declines, you should still pay attention to organic strategy on Facebook. The introduction of the Google Privacy Sandbox and recent iOS changes are making it more difficult for Facebook to track consumer interests. Facebook’s ability to track these interests and collect off-platform data are an integral part of how the platform targets ads and generates revenue. Without access to this third-party tracking data, Facebook will be motivated to share organic posts and collect consumer interest data internally for ad targeting. As a result, organic reach is expected to increase.

To take advantage of this potential growth, it’s worth evaluating your use of organic social posts. Here are a few things to consider as you craft your own organic social strategy.

Quality Trumps Quantity

The foundation of a successful organic social strategy begins with what you post, not when or how often. Focus on quality first, and avoid posting to meet a content quota. This means publishing highly relevant and shareable content that delivers value to your audience. The only thing worse than not publishing anything is publishing poor-quality content just to check a box on your content calendar.

Content Should Connect to Business Goals

Quality content can be defined as posts that entertain, inspire, educate, inform or connect. Every post you publish should speak directly to one of these goals.

The strategy behind this thinking starts to become clearer when we place these goals alongside a typical sales funnel (shown above). Posts that entertain or inspire are typically aligned with consumers in the awareness and interest stages of the sales funnel. As we move down the funnel, we’ll see that educational and informational content typically aligns with consumers in the evaluation and engagement stages.

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Post Format Matters

Selecting the appropriate format for your posts will play an important role. Some post formats can dramatically outperform others. The chart on the left illustrates Facebook organic interactions by post type.

The data should inform your strategy, but remember that every business is different. Some messages lend themselves well to video while others are more digestible as an image or link post.

Research shows that Facebook Live videos can perform nearly three times better than standard videos. We may see dramatic changes from these numbers as Facebook adapts to the privacy changes. Of course, the best way to determine what’s working for your business is by measuring your results.

Measure, Then Measure Again

No marketing strategy is complete without a system to track performance and measure results. Refer again to the sales funnel chart. You’ll see two categories of metrics on the right side.

The first category is soft metrics. Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, referred to them as proxies or proxy metrics. Soft metrics include reach, impressions, reactions, comments, shares and video views. These are positioned at the top of the funnel because they are the metrics best suited to measure awareness and interest-based interactions. These are all precursors to hard metrics.

Hard metrics, positioned at the bottom of the funnel, include traffic, leads and conversions. These are the key performance indicators that drive sales and fuel your business. Content targeting the bottom of the funnel is most likely to tie hard metrics directly to a specific call to action.

Organic social campaigns should begin with a goal, have a definition of what success looks like, and have a plan to measure performance. Make this an iterative process so you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

The ultimate goal for any marketing activity is to make sales easier. A successful organic social strategy should nurture your audience across all stages of the sales funnel and drive tangible business results. Take advantage of algorithm changes to find new ways to deliver value to your audience, and be prepared to pivot. You can’t cash in your “likes” at the bank. 

Eric Dallin is vice president of marketing innovation for Active Interest Media’s Marine Group, which includes Soundings Trade Only.

This article was originally published in the October 2021 issue.

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