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Social Engagement: Cracking the Code of Social Interaction


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Social Engagement: Cracking the Code of Social Interaction

  1. 1. Social Engagement: SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction March 2012 1
  2. 2. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction Introduction to Social Engagement 3 What is Social Engagement? 4 The Benefits of Social Engagement 5 The Science of Social Engagement 6 When to Post: Day of Week 7 When to Post: Time of Day 9 Where to Post 10 Conclusion 12 Additional Resources 12 About Awareness 12 2
  3. 3. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction Introduction to Social Engagement “Engagement” is a hot word these days but what does it really mean? Why is it important? How do you drive it? How do choices such as the day and time of a post affect interaction with content, engagement and loyalty? This paper explores those questions, citing research and comments by social media marketing thought leaders, and drawing on a recently completed analysis of aggregate data collected across all Awareness, Inc. clients, including more than 250,000 posts published to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Slideshare, Flickr and WordPress, and the 31+ million interactions on those posts over the course of 2011. The result is an insightful view of how content performs in the social sphere and how marketers can get the most from each post. On behalf of Awareness, Inc. I hope you enjoy the research presented in this eBook. If you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear them! Reach out to us at @awarenessinc on Twitter or to me personally at @dkrcarter. All the best, Dave Carter CTO and Founder of Awareness, Inc. About the Data: • Our data is from 100 randomly selected Awareness customers • Customers range from large, multi-billion dollar international companies to small, privately held companies • Industries include an even split between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) 3
  4. 4. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction What Is Social Engagement? Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group and author of the book “Engage,” defines engagement as “the interaction between a consumer or stakeholder and an organization. It is measured…as the take- away value, sentiment and actions that follow the exchange.” Engagement is the enduring effect of content to motivate an audience to do something – the “actions, reactions and transactions you can shape and steer,” says Solis. “This is why we are no longer merely engaging with an audience, but instead, a sophisticated and connected audience with an audience of audiences.” Engagement transcends return on investment (ROI). “People get stuck on ROI, but it’s only going to give you 10 percent of the bigger piece of the pie, which is really developing relationships. It’s the human interaction on the other side that’s more important,” said Erik Qualman global vice president of digital marketing at EF Education and founder and author of “Socialnomics,” in an interview with Awareness, Inc. “we are no longer merely engaging with an audience, but INSTEAD... with an AUDIENCE of audiences.” - Brian Solis, Altimeter Group 4
  5. 5. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction The Benefits of Social Engagement Engagement gives meaning and value to social media marketing efforts. Among its benefits are: AMPLIFICATION: Engaged fans help spread your message within their social network.As they do, posts gain credibility and expand reach. A May 2009 study by Knowledge Networks found that between 10 and 24 percent of U.S. social media users turned to social networks when making purchase decisions. A survey report by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research, “Why Social Media Matters to Your Business,” found that fans and followers of a brand or company were more likely to recommend that brand or company (60 percent of Facebook fans and 79 percent of Twitter followers). BRAND LOYALTY: Engagement also affects existing customers by improving the chances they will become repeat customers. Nearly half (49 percent) of the Facebook fans studied by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research in the study previously mentioned reported that they had become fans because they were already customers. Further, more than half of people who had engaged with a brand or company in social channels said they were more likely to buy (51 percent of Facebook fans and 67 percent of Twitter followers) than they were before they became a fan/follower. CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS: Customers now expect to engage via social channels to ask product questions, give positive and negative feedback, get customer service and to simply share enthusiasm. This expectation is evident in comments by respondents to the Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research survey report. The report asked what it says about a brand if they are not involved with sites like Facebook or Twitter; survey respondents indicated companies and brands are now conspicuous if they have no presence on social channels. “You doubt their relevance in today’s marketplace,” said one consumer. Similarly, brands that do not have a social presence risk alienating certain demographics. “Either they are not interested in the demographic that frequents Facebook and Twitter or they are unaware of the opportunity to get more exposure,” said another consumer. EDGERANK: “Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm … is the key to effectively managing content on Facebook for deeper and more meaningful engagement,” Taulbee Jackson, president and chief executive officer at digital media agency Raidious, told Awareness in an interview for our “2012 Social Marketing & New Media Predictions” white paper. EdgeRank strongly favors content with engagement. In fact, it is a primary variable. 5
  6. 6. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction The Science of Social Engagement Engagement Whether by instinct or insight, most social media marketers Best Practices have a good idea of when and where to post to generate the most interaction. There are literally hundreds of theories, but most are just that: Theories. Andrew Patterson, director of new media With the data now available for marketers, there is no need for guesswork. Social media marketing programs are increasingly at MLB Advanced scrutinized by the same data-driven business standards as Media, offered this other marketing programs. We saw evidence of this in our late- best practice when 2011 survey, “The State of Social Media Marketing: Top Areas interviewed by Aware- For Social Marketing Investment and Biggest Social Marketing Challenges in 2012.” Marketers reported they would focus on ness for our white paper, “The So- more robust social marketing management (50 percent) and cial Funnel: Driving Business Value monitoring (45 percent) in 2012. More than half (58 percent) with Social Marketing”: reported measuring ROI as their top social marketing challenge # ? for 2012. = Be consistent. ? ? % “Engagement is all about consist- % % ? ? ency. You can’t be there one day # ?= and gone the next. If your resourc- es can be more consistent across % many channels, then by all means try and do it. If you spread yourself ? + ? too thin, you offer an experience % that changes for fans, and I don’t think they respond as well to that.” Marketers need to know which publishing variables drive meaningful engagement. They should be able to answer: • What day of the week has the highest post volume? • What day of the week has the highest interaction rate? • What day of the week has the highest number of interactions per post? This paper takes a scientific approach, quantifying what does and what does not work. 6
  7. 7. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT: How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction When to Post: Day of Week What day of the week is the best to post for maximum Engagement interaction? To answer this, Best Practices we started by looking at the average number of posts per day. Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group, reported in her blog thatSundaySaturday the 2009 Wetpaint/Altimeter GroupFridayThursday “ENGAGEMENTdb Report” re-Wednesday Average Number of Posts per Day (in thousand) vealed a number of best practicesTuesdayMonday 40K to drive engagement: 36,045 35K Total Number of Posts 36045 30K “Emphasize quality, not just 34872 34767 31841 quantity.” Engagement requires 31049 25K 20K a commitment to keeping content 20085 19868 15K fresh and to being responsive to 10K comments. 5K 12AM 0 “Doing it all may not be for you ay ay y ay y ay ay da da — but you must do something.” id rd sd sd nd on es Fr tu ur e Su M n Sa Tu Th ed Social media marketing strategies W Weekdays – Monday through Friday – clearly dominated, should be informed by audience with 81 percent of all posts occurring on those days. The preferences, but doing nothing is highest-volume day is Friday, when more than 36,000 posts not an option. were published on average. Tuesday and Wednesday tied for a close second at 35,000. At the other end of the spectrum, the fewest number of posts were published on “Find your sweet spot.” Social Sundays, on average less than 20,000 per day. media strategies should be sus- tainable. Don’t commit to more These findings are not necessarily an indication that Fridays than you can deliver. are the most productive day to post to generate interaction and engagement or that Sundays are the least productive. They do, however, show publishing habits in the market. 7
  8. 8. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction When to Post: Day of Week Next, we examined the interaction rate, or the total number of interactions by day of the week, for the same group of posts. The charts below represent the total number of interactions per day across all channels and the total number of interaction per post per day across all channels. Interaction per Day (in million) Interaction per Post per Day 6M 5,774,226 250 232 5M 200 4M 150 3M 100 ay ay y ay ay ay ay ay ay y ay ay ay ay da da id rd sd sd sd nd id rd sd sd sd nd on Fr on tu Fr ur tu ne e Su ur ne e Su M Sa Tu M Sa Th Tu Th ed ed W W It was somewhat surprising to see a spike in interactions on Thursday – 50 percent more interactions than on Friday. This was so even though about 15 percent more posts were published on Fridays than on Thursdays. It’s also worth noting that Wednesday produced the lowest interactions by far, despite being one of the highest posting volume days. This finding may be a useful benchmark, but the data also revealed an opportunity worth exploring: Even though the number of posts was lowest on weekends, the interaction rate was over 200 percent higher than on Wednesday, the lowest day of the week. The reduced number of brand posts on weekends, coupled with the higher engagement rate, indicates an opportunity to experiment with weekend posts to see how it affects interaction rates. Brands often struggle to post over the weekend or during off hours, an obstacle that can be overcome by using software that allows users to schedule posts in a queue, like the Awareness Social Marketing Hub. TA C T I C A L T I P S Here are some tactical tips based on our findings: • Awareness benchmarks: Thursday is the best day of the week to post in terms of generating interactions. • Do not ignore posting on the weekend. 8
  9. 9. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT: How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction When to Post: Time of Day What time of day is the best to post for maximum interaction? We answered this by looking at the volume of posts by hour and day. We found that the majority of posts originated between 11 am and 5 pm Eastern time, with a peak over the lunch hour, from 12 pm to 2 pm Eastern time. We also found a moderate spike in the early morning hours on Monday and Friday. The highest-volume time for posting was between 12 pm and 2 pm Eastern time on Fridays. Interactions by Day and Time of Day (in thousand) Sunday Similarly, when we looked at interactions by 3K 2,885 Saturday hour, we found an obvious peak between 12 Friday Thursday pm and 2 pm Eastern time, with the highestTotal Number of Interactions Wednesday 2.5K Tuesday volume of interactions during the 2 pm hour. Monday 2K In terms of the best time of day to post, 20085 19868 there did appear to be a correlation between 1.5K number of posts in a given period and interactions on those posts. 1K Based on these findings, marketers should 5K consider experimenting to see what time of day generates the most interaction with their 0 audience. One way to do this is to compare 12A.M. 4A.M. 8A.M. 12P.M. 4P.M. 8P.M. 12A.M. the engagement results from two Facebook posts, each targeting a similar dominant Time of Day by Hour marketing area (DMAs), at different times with the same message. Interactions by Hour (in thousand) 20K TA C T I C A L T I P S Total Number of Interactions 15,511 Here are some tactical tips based on 15K our findings: • Awareness benchmarks: The 10K best time of the day to post for maximum interaction is between 5K 1 pm and 4 pm Eastern time. • Experiment with posting at different times during the day to 0 12A.M. 4A.M. 8A.M. 12P.M. 4P.M. 8P.M. 12A.M. see what works for your brand Time of Day by Hour and audience. 9
  10. 10. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction Where to Post Which channel is best for generating engagement? We like to think about this question in terms of efficient use of content: How long will a piece of content be in play? We analyzed millions of comments tracked by the Awareness Social Marketing Hub to determine the life span of posts, or the “post half-life,” by channel. We tracked the number of comments hourly for 10 days after the content was published. This study does not consider time of day, sentiment or content quality. Fundamental differences in the design of social media channels affect post half-life. For instance, we found that content posted to Twitter and Facebook had a very short life span, with 99 percent of engagement occurring in the first 10 days. This is because Facebook and Twitter use a news stream format that pushes content away from the viewer’s attention very quickly. Posts to these platforms earn the majority of engagement in the first hour. On Flickr, YouTube and WordPress, where engagement generally depends on visitors proactively coming to the sites, via search engine traffic for example, the engagement patterns are quite different. Content on Flickr earned 82 percent of its engagement during the first 10 days. YouTube and Wordpress content earned 34 percent of engagement during the first 10 days. Percent of Engagement Over First 10 Days by Channel Facebook 99% Flickr 82% Twitter 100% WordPress 7% YouTube 34% 00% 20% 20 40% 40 60% 60 80 80% 100% 100 99% of engagement occurs in the first 10 days 10
  11. 11. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction Where to Post When we viewed engagement patterns across the first 24 hours on these channels, the differences became more pronounced. Interestingly, YouTube continued to generate significant episodes of engagement for almost 24 hours. YouTube, Flickr and WordPress all experienced upticks for the first 24 hours. Facebook and Twitter, however, dropped precipitously in the first hour after publication. Percent of Engagement Over First 10 Hours by Channel In our analysis, content on Twitter dropped off dramatically in the first 100% hour, and within three hours it had 80% reached 90 percent of its potential interaction. Similarly, Facebook also 60% had immediate interaction, but it 40% stretched out over a slightly longer period. After 12 hours, Facebook 20% content had seen 90 percent of its 0% potential interaction. The other three channels – Flickr, WordPress and YouTube – saw a lot of interaction soon after publishing, but continued to generate comments for a very long time. We believe this is because content from these channels is very discoverable by search engines. In the case of YouTube, the viral nature of the video can create interaction blooms randomly. TACTICAL TIPS Here are some tactical tips based on our findings: Include hashtags in your posts so a current content item can create curiosity about past posts. For example, “How to fix a lead #diytips.” This may draw previous tweets back into view if the user searches #diytips. Hashtags also are an important measure of engagement, as you can see the relevance of you content over time. Also hashtags allow you to capture engagements where users may not have mentioned you by name but have shared your content. Publish to Facebook at least daily. Content in Facebook shows the engagement as part of the content (i.e. you can see the number of likes and actual comments inline), and lots of engagement brings it into a top story. Write the content that is proven to engage fans - phrase as a question, or ask for opinion. Facebook’s new feature, Timeline, may have a dramatic impact on these results. This new feature encourages viewers to explore historic content and may change the dynamics completely. The new user interface encourages browsing back in time and that may breathe life into older posts. This will have a big impact on the shelf life of your content.For more on how to impact your content visibility, refer to our recent webinar on impacting EdgeRank. Cross-publish rich content to Flickr, WordPress and YouTube to expose search engines to your content. Use those pages to promote all your social media channels. Include “Tweet this” and links to Facebook Pages. 11
  12. 12. SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT:How to Crack the Code of Social Interaction Conclusion As social marketers continue to invest in content, they are advised to follow best practices in content publishing. Regardless of their industry focus, knowing when to post, what to post and where to post it will ensure that marketers reap the most benefit from their investment. We encourage B2B marketers specifically to consider this: nine out of ten B2B organizations market with content and 60 percent plan to increase spend on content in 2012 (MarketingProfs). With 59 percent of B2B buyers engaging with peers before making buying decisions (2010 and DemandGen), how will you ensure that your content is found, shared and liked so you can successfully influence purchase decisions? Additional Resources • “Social Commerce Lessons: The 6 Social Principles that Increase Sales”: Learn how CMOs and community managers can use the Six Social Principles and social content to gain more prospects and buyers, and turn them into brand advocates. • “11 Strategies to Increase Engagement” helps marketers facilitate communication from their audience, highlighting best practice examples that businesses of all sizes can emulate. • “Why Video Is Essential To Your Marketing Mix (And 7 Steps to Powerful Results)” is your guide to harnessing the power of online video. • “How to Audit Your Social Marketing Efforts”: Learn how to develop an objective assessment of current social marketing efforts: how to evaluate social reach, assess digital conversations, conduct SEO health checks and develop a social marketing effectiveness dashboard. • Digital Brand Marketing Education has compiled a collection of videos and infographics on 2011 social engagement trends. • “The Average Facebook User”: Infographic from Mashable About Awareness Awareness, Inc. is the leading provider of enterprise-class, on- Get Connected: demand social marketing management software (SMMS) for Follow us on Twitter marketers to publish and manage social content, engage with @awarenessinc their audience and measure the effectiveness of their social media activities across multiple social media channels. The Awareness Join us on Facebook Social Marketing Hub is built upon Awareness’ expertise with some • Social Media Market- of the world’s leading brands and marketing agencies including ing Best Practices MLB, Sony Pictures, Comcast, Likeable Media, Associated Press, • Social Media Market- Cox Communications, Mindjumpers and American Cancer Society. ing Mavens Pages The Awareness Social Marketing Hub is built to address the Join our LinkedIn Group challenges marketers face managing multiple social channels. Social Media Marketing The Social Marketing Hub is the first enterprise-class application Mavens Group for serious marketers who want to plan, implement and measure Check out our Blog meaningful social media strategies across the organization. 12