I became a LinkedIn member when it first arrived on the scene as an exclusive social network for business professionals. I recall all the buzz that was spreading throughout Silicon Valley about LinkedIn, and that one needed a special “invite” to become a member. Looking back, I remember how honored I felt to be “linkedin” by a fellow colleague — I was officially in the club! Over the years, I have watched the social network evolve into an effective recruitment platform (disclaimer: I got my analyst job thanks to a Forrester recruiter who found me on LinkedIn), then to a content publishing platform after it added Slideshare, a newsfeed and its popular influencer program.
Today, LinkedIn is attracting a plethora of B2B and B2C brands that are trying to build a presence in front of 300 million professionals. There are currently more than 3 million company pages on LinkedIn. All of this brand activity begs the question: What engagement rates are brands getting on LinkedIn? We looked at the top 50 global brands and their member interactions across a variety of social networks. We found that LinkedIn’s engagement rate was lower than other social networks that also have professional members:
Why does LinkedIn’s engagement rate lag behind the others? Members simply do not go to LinkedIn to interact with brands after they have purchased a brand’s product. Marketers understand this — only 5% use LinkedIn for a social relationship objective (e.g. drive customer loyalty, provide customer service).
Recently, Forrester studied more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks and confirmed what marketers have long suspected: People don’t engage with branded social content very often.
On six of the seven social networks, the brands we studied achieved an engagement rate of less than 0.1%. For every 1 million Facebook fans those brands had collected, each of their posts received only about 700 likes, comments, and shares. On Twitter, the ratio was about 300 interactions per 1 million followers.
But one social network absolutely blew the others away when it came to delivering engagement: Instagram. Our study found that top brands’ Instagram posts generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21%. That means Instagram delivered these brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
What does this higher engagement rate look like in practice? Last month, Red Bull posted a video of a unique snowboarding half-pipe on both Facebook and Instagram. A few days later, we noted that the brand’s 43 million Facebook fans had liked the video just 2,600 times (a 0.006% likes-per-fan rate), while its 1.2 million Instagram followers had liked the video more than 36,000 times (a 3% likes-per-follower rate).
Just four months later, the debate seems to be over. Is there any doubt now that Facebook has abandoned social marketing, and that its paid ad products aren’t delivering results for most marketers? Consider:
Marketers can now reach just 6% of their fans organically. When we published our research, some brands were surprised to find that Facebook only delivered posts to 16% of their fans. In December a leaked sales deck revealed that Facebook was telling marketers they should expect organic distribution of posts to decline further — but few could guess how far and how fast that distribution would fall. This month, Ogilvy released data showing that the brand pages they manage reach just 6% of fans. For pages with more than 500,000 fans, Ogilvy says reach stands at just 2%.
There are lots of reasons for this dissatisfaction, but the biggest is that most vendors just aren’t solving the problems that social relationship marketers face. Yesterday we published a new report detailing social relationship marketers' top challenges:
Measurement. Most just don't know what impact, if any, their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts have.
Content. Marketers struggle both to decide what type of content to publish, and then to find good content assets to use.
Staffing. Many say they just don't have enough human resources to handle the every tasks of social relationship marketing.
Scheduling. Marketers don't know when to post their content for maximum impact.
We evaluated established SRPs like Spredfast, Sprinklr, Shoutlet, Adobe Social, and salesforce.com’s Buddy Media, and found that none of them were good enough to fall into our “Leaders” category. Why? For one thing, most had significant gaps in their offerings.
But we also found that many of their customers weren’t terribly satisfied. Even though all the clients we spoke with were referred to us by the vendors themselves — and so presumably were amongst each SRP’s happiest customers — most had some reservations about the features, functionality, and service the vendors provided. In several cases, we were shocked by how little the reference clients thought of their technology partners.
One year later, we decided to check in on whether marketers had grown any more satisfied with their social relationship platforms. For a new report out today, we asked 56 marketers who used a variety of SRPs whether they’d recommend their vendor to a colleague — and found that overall, social relationship platforms have a Net Promoter Score of -16. Yes, that’s negative sixteen.
I often ask marketing leaders how they organize their resources for social, and the responses are rarely the same. I hear everything from: "We have one person in PR who does social part-time" to "We have hundreds of full time social marketing managers across the globe." Despite this disparity, I find that marketers often share the same level of frustration when they try to advance their social marketing initiatives. Whether they have one social marketing manager or hundreds of social marketing managers, marketers claim that their existing resources are stretched.
Quantity does not equate to quality
Marketers tell us that a lack of dedicated employees is a big pain point. And if you dig a bit deeper, you will find that this is a daunting obstacle that prevents many organizations from scaling and optimizing their social marketing efforts. Marketers often feel that the only way to scale and optimize is to hire more social marketing managers. Yes, more dedicated headcount helps, but it is not the panacea. In order to be truly organized for social marketing success, you need a new perspective.
The 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards entry deadline is February 28, which is only 10 days away! There are many benefits to winning a Forrester Groundswell Award — but you must submit your entry by the deadline if want an opportunity to show the world your social marketing prowess! Below are some links to details so you can get started on your entry today:
We are currently accepting entries for our 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards and as we are rapidly approaching our February 28th deadline, I thought I would share some insights on what it takes to win in the Social Depth category.
For those of you who need a refresh, social depth includes all of the various social capabilities that a brand adds to its own website and/or campaign microsite in order to facilitate a buyers' exploration of the brand and its offerings. Social depth tactics can include a blog, ratings and reviews, discussion forums, curated and aggregated social content (user-generated and brand-generated) and social sign-on. These tactics provide tremendous value to marketers who have deployed them. In fact, my recent report shows how B2B marketers give social depth tactics high grades in terms of their contribution to business outcomes.
But what makes a social depth strategy stand out from the rest? First and foremost, your social depth strategy should provide the rich content and customer insights a buyer seeks when exploring your brand and products on your website. This branded and user-generated content should move a buyer from early exploration to consideration and ultimately to an actual online or offline purchase. Brands that do this really well can show how their strategy drives quality leads, conversions and online and/or offline sales.
Most of the large marketers we survey tell us their companies are active on Twitter. But just as marketers say they’re not getting enough value from Facebook, Twitter marketers are still looking for greater value as well. In fact, our new report today reveals that only 55% of companies that market on Twitter say they’re satisfied with the business value they achieve:
Why are Twitter marketers still looking for greater value?
Marketers are using Twitter for the wrong objective. Marketers’ most common objective on Twitter is to build brand awareness. But consumers are most likely to become a fan or follower of a company in social media after they’ve already bought from that company. This means that marketers would have more luck using Twitter to engage their existing customers than to find new ones.
Twitter must do more to support marketers. Twitter’s marketing business is still relatively young — its ads have been generally available for only about 3 years — but that business must mature quickly. Marketers say they need more guidance, education, service, and support if they’re going to use Twitter successfully. And just 44% of marketers say they’re satisfied with Twitter as a marketing partner today.
Our recent report on why Facebook is failing marketers has caused quite a bit of conversation — with some supporting our findings and others disputing them — and we think that’s healthy. We fully stand behind our data and our conclusions, and we welcome the chance to further discuss what’s working and what’s not working in social media. Conversations like these can only push the industry forward and help all social marketers and sites become more successful.
In particular, we wanted to address a few common questions people are asking about our research:
Facebook’s score didn’t look that low. Are they really failing marketers? Facebook offers marketers access to the largest audience in media history and it knows a remarkable amount about each of its users and their affinities. By all rights, Facebook should be driving significantly more value for marketers than other sites and channels — but according to our survey, they’re not. Forrester’s Data Center of Excellence has looked at this data many different times, through many different lenses, and every view of the data supports this conclusion.