March 31, 2015

Social Media Chart: Average interactions per post by industry

SUMMARY: Surprisingly, the industry with the lowest budgets and least resources gets the greatest average interactions on its social media posts.

What can you learn from that? And how does your company's level of social media engagement compare to peers in your industry?

To help you answer that question, this week's chart features benchmark data from HubSpot based on the social media interaction 7,333 companies have received on their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus posts.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

The data below shows the average number of social media posts by companies in nine industries, along with the average number of interactions per post, from HubSpot users.

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

Think like a nonprofit with your social media content

The nonprofit/education industry averages the most social interactions per post on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn — even though they likely have the smallest budgets and the least resources to dedicate to social media marketing.

Here's why I think nonprofit and education brands are so successful: The very reason nonprofits and schools are created is to help and teach people. Successful social media and content marketing has the same goal — to help and educate an opt-in audience.

As you evaluate your brand's social media strategy, ask yourself this fundamental question: How does our social media content and communication add value to the lives of our fans and followers?

If the value only flows one way — to your company — then the time and budget you are investing in social media marketing is likely underperforming your potential ROI.

Perhaps it is even underperforming in a big way. Not only do nonprofit/education brands achieve the most interactions per post, but every other brand also falls far behind in this leading industry. Nonprofit/education brands averaged 42.47 interactions (i.e., likes, retweets) per post. In a very distant second place, we find consumer goods/retail/ecommerce brands, averaging 11.4 interactions.

Even though these brands have the budgets necessary to create effective content and distribute it on social media, they significantly lag behind nonprofit and education brands. This is why my assumption is that it depends on the approach brands in other industries take on social media which holds them back, not budgets and certainly not frequency (as I'll discuss a little later in this article).

Let's get visual, visual

What could that audience-focused social media content look like? "Is there a topic people are currently talking about that relates to your brand or that your audience would enjoy reading about? Pay attention to the news," advises Brittany Leaning, Content Strategist, HubSpot.

Once you've found news your audience might enjoy, Leaning suggests you try adding images to your social media posts.

"To get a high number of interactions on your social media posts, try utilizing a combination of visual content with a newsworthy topic," she said. "Images such as quotes and stats are guaranteed to get you more shares than a standard text-based post. This will help you bring in a new audience that could ultimately convert into new leads and customers."

For example, in a sequential A/B test of 36 tweets over a week's time, Leaning discovered that tweets with images generated 55% more leads.

Beyond the news, think of ways your products and services already help people overcome their problems or meet their goals, and then tell those stories to help your audience. Add some powerful visuals, and then share.

However, keep in mind that when it comes to social media, more isn't better. Better (content) is better, and …

... posting more doesn't increase engagement

Frequency alone certainly isn't the answer to social media success. You can't just throw as much as possible at your audience and hope they'll be drawn in to engage with your brand.

For example, brands in the real estate industry had the highest average number of social posts per week (19.21), and yet, they have the lowest average number of interactions per post (0.45).

What is the ideal frequency? Test to learn what works for your brand. "To determine the proper balance of frequency and format, you need to experiment, experiment, experiment," Erik Devaney, Content Strategist, HubSpot, advised.

"For example, over a two-week period, you could try posting twice as frequently as you usually do to see if there's a notable improvement. For the next experiment, you could try posting less frequently. Ultimately, your ideal posting strategy will depend on your specific set of circumstances: your industry, your audience, etc.," Devaney said.

Create content worth sharing … and then share it

As a rule of thumb, I like the approach taken by Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics and host of the "Freaknomics Radio" podcast, which gets more than six million downloads every month.

After his session at Email Summit 2015, I asked him, "As an online content provider, what tips do you have to build an audience online?"

"It's very hard to manufacture demand," he said. "If you have something to offer that people really don't want, you can try to persuade them a little bit to want it, but it's really hard."

Dubner added that, if it's something that people want, "that's a marketer's dream … My rule of thumb, the way I use social media and everything we do, is that I promote a lot, but I like to be seen as not being promotional while promoting. So for me, what that means is I don't tweet a lot or post a lot unless I have some content that I feel is really substantial and that I feel I've earned the right to come to my audience and say, 'Hey, you might want to take a look at this.'"

"If I haven't spent the time and money and effort to do something I think is worth it, and I ask you to take your valuable time to see it, then I feel it's not quite a fair trade," Dubner concluded.

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2015 Social Media Benchmarks Report (via HubSpot)

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Social Media Marketing: How a sporting goods company increased Facebook reach 366%

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Watch full sessions from Email Summit 2015

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