We’ve all been there. It’s the beginning of a new month, which means that it’s time to assess last month’s social media performance. With a balanced sense of curiosity and impending doom, you check your stats and see that– oh no! Your brand’s metrics have taken a turn for the worse and you need to save your engagement rate.
With several years of that “uh-oh” moment under my belt, I can assure you that things are not as bad as they seem. Your audience hasn’t spontaneously left you for the competitor brand with a larger ad budget, Facebook’s algorithm isn’t punishing you for that one day you had to re-upload the same creative three times (due to technical difficulties, of course), and a lower engagement rate definitely does NOT mean you’ve been shadow-banned, okay?!
Now take a deep breath with me as we put on our detective glasses, switch on the left side of our brains, and get to the bottom of your engagement rate woes. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to save your engagement rate:
What’s working? What’s not? A qualitative analysis of your post performance is a great place to start understanding why your engagement rate (ER) may have taken a dip.
Most social media reporting platforms will let you view posts in order of rising or declining engagement rate. Take a look at your monthly content to see which posts yielded high ER’s, and which ones were lower in the pack. You might start noticing some trends, like videos outperforming still images or graphics performing better on Facebook than Instagram.
You’ll also want to take a look at historical trends. Review the last six months of your content and see which posts tend to yield the highest and lowest engagement rates.
Oh, and don’t forget about copy! Always make sure your content analysis includes a breakdown of copy. Does short copy or long form copy yield a higher engagement rate? How about informative captions vs. humorous? It may not be one or the other, as many content strategies thrive on diverse creative. Either way, no strategic analysis is truly complete without taking into account every piece of the creative puzzle.
Is engagement rate the best way to measure your success?
Well, that certainly depends! Most industry leaders will tell you that engagement rate is a solid metric to rely on. However, it’s important to consider the variety of factors that influence engagement rate when making your strategy decisions. If you need to save your engagement rate, here are some important details to take into account:
Impressions Affect Engagement Rate. I mean, duh. If Engagement Rate = Engagements / Impressions * 100, your impressions are going to have an impact on your final ER. If impressions are on the rise, but engagements don’t change much, your engagement rate is going to be lower.
Is that always a bad thing? No! If your posts are being viewed more, one might consider that a win (even if engagements have not increased proportionally). If brand awareness is one of your goals, a lower engagement rate resulting from more eyeballs on your content is probably not a cause for alarm. In this case, I might even go so far as to say that this emoji is quite appropriate: 🥳.
Sharing is Caring! But it’s also a reason why you might run into lower engagement rates, especially on Facebook or Twitter. When your posts are shared, you can expect your organic impressions to increase. However, those views are going to come from less targeted audiences who are not as likely to engage.
Say, for example, John – a loyal fan of your brand – shares your branded Facebook post to his own personal feed. Lots of John’s Facebook friends are going to see that post, thus yielding higher impressions. However, no matter how great your content is, not all of John’s friends are going to care about your brand as much as he does. His shared post is going to be seen by many people who will scroll past and not engage, thus leading to a lower engagement rate.
Does that mean that shares and incremental impressions are pointless? Absolutely not! Those incremental impressions can help build brand loyalty. Maybe John’s friend didn’t engage with his share, but they likely made a mental note that John is a fan of this brand, and they may be more responsive to future engagement efforts.
The Dark Side of the Boost: If you’ve been putting media dollars behind boosting posts, you might notice that your boosted posts are yielding lower engagement rates. While this isn’t always the case, it can certainly be a pain point for social media analysts looking at engagement rate as a primary KPI. Similar to a lower ER on shared posts, you might see a lower ER on boosted posts because your content is being viewed by colder audiences who are less likely to engage than someone who viewed your post organically.
Your boosted campaign optimizations will directly affect the ER’s of those posts. If you optimize for reach, for example, engagement rate might drop. Alternatively, if you optimize for engagement, you might see those numbers rise.
Engagement Incentives: Now, this one might be obvious, but it’s important to remember that your call-to-action (CTA) matters! If you hosted a giveaway that drove hundreds of engagements last month, and this month you did not execute a giveaway, you can certainly expect your monthly analytics to see a sharp decrease.
To get a more accurate understanding of your post performance when giveaways (or other engagement-driven incentives) are at play, you have a couple of options:
1. Keep a consistent schedule in which all of your content calendars have a similar amount of engagement CTA’s.
2. Use a tagging system to evaluate posts with or without those engagement-driven posts.
With current events, industry shifts, platform updates, and more factors at play, developing a social media strategy can feel like aiming at a moving target.
Since your engagement rate is impacted by just about everything happening in the world, you can expect to see some ups and downs. But it doesn’t always mean you need to save your engagement rate. As social media marketers, we do our best to garner a quantitative understanding of our content, and use that understanding to take actionable steps for improvement.
However, it’s important to take a step back and look at what’s going on in the industry (and the world) at large. Perhaps users were not engaging much with brands this month due to easing of COVID restrictions. Perhaps your brand’s vertical is experiencing a typical drop in interest during a specific season.
With endless possibilities for social media shifts, it’s essential that you keep a long-term strategy in mind. Just because your engagement rate is down one month, does not mean you need to pull all your budget out of social, or that your strategy isn’t “working.” Practicing patience with your marketing in order to assess bigger picture performance is the most important thing to keep in mind when analyzing your data.
I hope I’ve managed to show you that a drop in engagement rate is not the be-all, end-all. In fact, a drop might be something worth celebrating. Hello, incremental views! And if not, well now you know how to save your engagement rate!
I know that analyzing your social media data takes lots of trial and error, but at the end of the day, each challenge that you assess and each solve that you implement will ultimately teach you something new. That’s the name of the game, and it’s what keeps so many of us invested and hungry for more!
No matter what your goals might be, Socialfly can help craft or revise a social strategy for your brand. Get in touch with our strategists at email@example.com to learn more!
Written By: Christina Billias, Senior Content Strategist