Not Getting Much Engagement on Social Media: Don’t Despair!

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September 2015

Some organisations get discouraged when they compare the amount of time they spend on social media and the number of responses they receive as a result. Most people think of social media as being a medium that promotes direct contact amongst groups of people, especially within communities that share common interests. However, when it comes to interacting with organisations and companies, individuals can unexpectedly become very passive. By some estimates, as many as 100 people can view a post for every person that takes the time to respond! Those that voice an opinion are in the minority and are a usually on the fringes of a given issue.

Using the 1:9:90 Rule As an Estimate for Engagement

The 1:9:90 principle refers to a pattern in which 90% of the audience are “lurkers” or observers who will view the content but not engage or contribute; 9% of the audience will contribute from time to time; and only 1% will regularly participate, accounting for the majority of contributions and engagement. Simply put, those that regularly comment are in the minority. Many more visitors will only view the information without commenting or adding to it.

To overcome the 1:9:90 challenge, try to set the example by remaining as active as possible over the long haul. Initially, most organisations promote their social media initiatives by strongly encouraging their employees to contribute. However, internal participation in social media commonly declines, once the novelty wears off. So after the accounts are launched, it is important to maintain that initial participation to generate audience interest and encourage viewers to keep coming back and to comment. A high level of engagement may not be a realistic expectation, but continually providing content that keeps viewers interested is nonetheless an important goal.

Another strategy might be to identify a group of users ahead of time who are committed to contributing new content. These can be patrons or volunteers from the community, but they can also be from other heritage institutions on the Internet.  Institutions can use social media to communicate and collaborate with other organisations with shared values. This strategy can be beneficial both in generating and enriching content through feedback and engagement, as well as expanding the audience that will be viewing the information.

A Passive Audience is Still an Audience

Social media is a good vehicle to get those messages across, even if the communication is one-directional. Rather than looking at a lack of participation as a signal that a social media strategy is not effective, organisations can view it as a way to communicate their message to a large audience who will view the content.  Of course, there are ways to increase engagement (as we previously reported in our News section), but social media can still be used as one-directional promotional tool. It is possible to transmit a message to your target audience without it being a constant two-way dialogue. As long as the message is received on the other end, institutions shouldn’t worry too much about the lack of an enthusiastic response.

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3 Responses to Not Getting Much Engagement on Social Media: Don’t Despair!

  1. Julie Fossitt says:

    I have worked in the non-profit and public sector throughout my career, and marketing sure has changed over the past 15 years. We thought social media was going to be a real game changer as it was ‘free’ and would help us attract new audiences and engage with current audiences in a new way.

    What I have discovered is it takes a huge amount of human resources to use social media as it is used to build relationships, not just push out information. The great thing? The insights and analytics are robust. An article posting some options for your readers to discover the best times to post, how to read analytics and how to measure views and engagements would be helpful. I disagree that social media is a one-directional promotional tool, as having the person on the other end even seeing the post is two-way engagement.

    Using the built-in analytics of the media are key to choosing the best message, best time and best audience for staff who are often low on financial and human resources. There are also other resources such as Crowdbooster, Topsy and other social engagement tools that offer even more information.

  2. RCIP-CHIN says:

    Thanks Julie for taking the time to share your experience in working with social media. Getting the most out of this time-consuming activity, through analytics, is definitely a good article idea!

  3. Adrianna Prosser says:

    Thank you Julie! Agree 110% – I don’t think many understand the effort behind social media, and your post makes me very happy!

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