On social media, engagement rate is the most important number.
In this blog we will discuss the 90-9-1 rule and how to improve social media engagement.
As they say in business, revenue is vanity, profit is sanity. Meaning, if someone has a $10 million a year business, but they net $5,000, that’s less impressive than a $1 million business that nets $150,000.
The ancillary to that is on social media, where follower count is vanity, and engagement rate is sanity. Follower counts show little in the way of if a person is really connecting with their audience and creating content that resonates.
People always want to grow their followers and ask about how to increase their number of followers. But the real question is: how do you increase your engagement rate?
Advertisers and sponsors of influencers are savvy enough now to ignore follower counts and pay attention to engagement.
It’s easy to think you can just focus on boosting engagement overnight, but how do you actually increase engagement on social media?
Just like with learning a new skill, it takes time and practice to warm up a social media audience. You wouldn’t jump right into squatting 150% of your bodyweight without first warming up and building up the weight, so it’s hard to expect that your audience will go from liking your page
Cheap tactics such as “hit LIKE if you can relate!” or “Do you agree?” or hopping on a trend can only get you so far in improving your social media engagement rate.
It’s not enough for someone to just follow you, they have to engage with you, too.
The 90-9-1 Rule
Here’s how to think about a typical online community. I call this The 90-9-1 Rule:
- 90% of people are lurkers (meaning they will read your content, but never interact with it)
- 9% are passive participants (meaning they will click a button, for example, to ‘like’ a post or a one-click retweet or re-share)
- 1% will actively engage by commenting, sharing, or creating new posts
It’s like an iceberg – while you may have 2,300 followers, about 207 of them will click “like” or maybe the retweet button, and just 23 of them are likely to actively engage.
Your goal is to get your lurkers to be passive participants, and your participants to be actively engaged. This will develop a deeper relationship with them, while also improving the algorithm for your pages.
I’ll say it again: you can’t move someone from being a lurker straight to an active engager – you need to warm up to it!
Using the 90-9-1 Rule lets look as some way to move your audience up the pyramid into the active engagement zone.
How to improve social media engagement
Here are ways to improve social media engagement so your audience becomes more active:
- Plan your content calendar with the action in mind
As you’re creating your content calendar for next month (or the next year, as outlined in this guide to planning social media content), create each post with the end action in mind. Do you want people to simply ‘like’ it? Are you looking to start discussion? Or is it something they would want to reshare?
The way in which you create content, from the copy to the graphic or video, can guide the viewer to take a specific action. For example, people are more likely to click ‘like’ on content that is some kind of news or announcement.
They are more likely to share if it’s a post that doesn’t need knowledge of your brand to add context, and that will make them seem smart, cool, or funny. People want to look good on social media – help them do it by giving them great content to share.
A social media post should be one of three things:
- Emotionally Stirring
Wouldn’t it be nice if all posts could be all three? But, as you’re planning your content, make sure you’re mixing up both the action you want the user to take and what they will get out of your content.
- Limit salesy posts and CTAs
Users want to see content that tells your story and tells them who you are as a business. Use the 20/80 rule here: aim to have no more than 20% of your content as promotional.
The other 80% should be engaging content that shows your followers who you are, what you care about, and encourages them to like, comment and share.
Limit CTAs and requirements that the reader go off-platform to see and engage with your content. If you’re constantly asking them to “click the link in bio”, they will get tired of it. Let them stay on the platform they’re already on, and interact and engage there, versus going off-site.
PS – check out our social media best practices guide here.
- Behind-the-scenes / authenticity
The heart of social media is storytelling. Share stories that are authentic and relatable, as these forge a stronger, more personal connection with your audience. Authenticity can’t be faked. When your followers feel a genuine connection, they’re more likely to engage.
Does it look like a magazine ad? If your social content can go straight onto a magazine page with no edits, that means something is off. People engage with what looks organic and authentic in their feed – it’s why ads featuring UGC (user-generated content) perform tons better than something your graphic designer did.
- Use on-platform formats
Using built-in features on social media platforms is a great way to get more people involved. Take Twitter polls, for example. They’re super easy for your followers to use and a fun way to get their thoughts on different topics. It’s like a quick pulse check on what they like or think.
Then there’s Instagram Stories. They’re more up close and personal. When you pop a question or a poll in your Story, it’s like chatting directly with your followers. This makes them feel like they’re really part of what’s going on. It’s all about making your social media fun and interactive, which can really amp up the engagement and make your followers feel like they’re part of a community.
- People like to interact and create
The SOCIAL of social media is often forgotten. Shift your focus from increasing followers to building a community. Engage with your audience, create discussion groups, and show appreciation.
People are also creative – that’s half the fun of making memes. The internet is a wonderful place to play and remix content, so enabling your community to add their own spin on things breathes life into your engagement.
I used this concept in the Cannes Lion Award-Winning campaign for Beats by Dre. By creating a simple-to-use platform to make their own “Straight Outta _____” images, people were able to participate in an easy way while sharing their own story.
- Look at your analytics monthly
Use analytics to understand what works. Which posts are getting the most interaction? Learn from your successes and failures to continually refine your strategy and content calendar.
While there are tons of tools out there for social media analytics, I personally prefer the built-in analytics each platform comes with, or simply exporting the data into Excel and analyzing from there.
Set time on your calendar each month to review and evaluate!
And that’s the scoop on amping up your social media game! Remember, it’s not just about racking up followers; it’s about sparking real conversations and connections.
Use those nifty platform features, like Twitter polls or Instagram Stories, to get up close and personal with your audience.
Keep your content fresh, authentic, and fun, and don’t forget to check those analytics to see what’s hitting the mark.
By focusing on building a vibrant community rather than just numbers, you’ll see your engagement rates soar. Here’s to making your social media spaces more lively and engaging in 2024 and beyond!