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What began as a simple photo-sharing app among friends has grown into a global community of consumers and brands. Instagram now has over 300 million members who share more than 70 million photos and videos each day.
Home to creativity in all its forms, Instagram is a place where you can find everything from images of faraway places to the newest looks from today’s hottest fashion brands. The community continues to grow and thrive, and as Instagram’s user base increases, so do the benefits for celebrities, athletes, and brands.
Here are a few Instagram statistics that will help optimize your engagement and make the app a greater part of your marketing strategy.
Last spring, Forrester analyzed more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks. Unfortunately those brands achieved less than a 0.1 percent engagement rate on six out of the seven platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Instagram posts, however, generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. That means the app delivered brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Let’s look at a real life example of this difference.
This week, Red Bull posted a photo of Lindsey Vonn on both Facebook and Instagram. Currently, the brand’s 45 million Facebook fans had liked the photo just about 20,000 times, while its 2.2 million Instagram followers had liked the photo nearly 70,000 times.
This doesn’t mean that you should stop sharing branded content on other social networks, but it could influence the formats in which you share. For example, a May 2013 study found that engagement is strongest for text updates on Facebook. It’s all about diversifying your content and playing to each platform’s strengths.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most comments on Instagram happen quickly. On average, posts by top brands receive 216 comments, with 50 percent of comments being posted in the first six hours and 75 percent posted in the first 48 hours.
However, the study also found that high-performing posts – posts with double the average engagement – see comment volume peak later, taking more than 13 hours to hit 50 percent of total comments. High performing content on Instagram has a longer shelf life than average posts, which is why it’s important to focus on quality.
Rather than continuously putting out fresh content for the sake of having something new available, devote time to creating high-quality, eye-catching content. Remember, Instagram users scroll through a single stream of images, even when they’re using discovery tools or searching specific topics. Your post should stand out even as it ages.
Whether it’s an affinity for brevity or something instilled in us by Twitter’s character limit, brands on Instagram are focused on keeping captions short. The average caption on Instagram is 138 characters long, including hashtags. According to Simply Measured, there’s also little correlation between text length and engagement rate, so don’t be afraid to use extra space if it’s needed to convey your message.
While text length doesn’t greatly impact engagement, what’s being said certainly does. On average, posts that include another user handle in the caption receive 56 percent more engagement than those that don’t. However, this isn’t license to spam streams with @mentions. The tactic has proven successful for those that incorporate the feature authentically and relevantly. Anyone abusing @mentions will be deactivated, so take a conscientious approach to addressing fellow members directly.
In addition to @mentions and hashtags, there’s one more thing that’s likely missing from your Instagram post: location.
Instagram Photo Maps let you showcase where you’ve taken your photos and give users another way to discover your content. This feature is turned off by default, but here’s a good reason to turn it on: posts tagged with a location receive 79 percent higher engagement.
This isn’t really something that brands have adopted en masse yet. Of the 6,075 Instagram posts included in that study, only 307 had a location tagged. However, the stat shows that this additional element paid off for those that used it.
In order to determine which types of photos drive high-performing Instagram posts, Curalate examined more than 30 image features across more than 8 million Instagram images. Here are some of its most noteworthy findings:
While the study lacks data on why these settings are preferred, Curalate theorizes that the absence of chaos helps viewers focus, while various ridges and shadows “grab eyeballs and cause a user to stop and take a harder look at a photo.” Of course there isn’t a set formula that promises success. We recommend setting up your own experiments to see which of these options return higher levels of engagement for your photos.
Now that you know more, talk to your social team about these Instagram statistics and how they’ll impact your strategy.
The post 5 Insightful Instagram Statistics That You Should Know appeared first on Sprout Social.
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The Internet is an ideal place to build social communities around your brand, but it’s easy for any online community to become mired in negativity. While you may think dealing with negative content and the occasional troll is simply the cost of doing business online, bad attitudes can have a detrimental effect on your community if left unchecked.
Not only does negative content discourage users from being active and engaged with their social feeds, but it can actually cause community members to be more negative themselves. A study shows that when content is evaluated negatively by fellow users, the original poster is more likely to negatively evaluate fellow community-members and post more negative content. On top of that, a psychological tendency to remember bad things more strongly than good ones can mean that individuals focus on the negative aspects of your community over the positive aspects, exacerbating any existing problems your community has.
The end result: negativity in your community can breed more negativity, which encourages community members to be less active and engaged with your brand. That in turn means that a new visitor is not likely to stick around long enough to become an engaged community member, and may also walk away with a poor impression of your brand. Instead of letting negative posts sink your community and your brand, work on building a positive environment, which will help keep your brand’s biggest fans interested and engaged.
But just how do you go about building a positive social community? Let’s talk about some guidelines for encouraging your community to be on its best behavior.
Consider the type of behavior that’s acceptable for your brand and the community you want to build around it. Then spell out these rules for your community members. Don’t take good behavior as assumed: you want to be clear and specific about is and isn’t acceptable. In addition to these behavior guidelines, you also want to outline punishments — perhaps starting at a warning and going up to banning — so your community knows what to expect.
But beyond helping your community know what’s expected of them, these rules outline what’s expected of you. If a community member breaks a rule that’s been clearly spelled out, then your reaction should be just as clearly spelled out. You won’t have to figure out how to punish each case individually and there’s less room for a community member to argue against that punishment — after all, it’s all written in the rules.
Keep in mind that those rules don’t need to be a constant looming presence in order to be effective for your community. Just make them easily available for all members, and perhaps give an occasional gentle reminder to the group at large if you notice the start of a trend toward bad behavior.
A lot of bad behavior can be stopped before it starts by having rules that everyone knows to follow. Still, be prepared to follow up on infractions with fair punishments to keep your community on the right trajectory.
In an interesting social experiment, gaming company Riot Games — which manages a community of 20 million players — has a dedicated Social Systems team, lead by a psychologist, that works to fight toxic players. Some of the lessons Riot has learned are definitely applicable to all social communities.
Riot aims to reform players participating in negative behavior when possible, and found that one warning — provided it offered clear information on the offense — was enough to improve behavior in 74 percent of cases. This implies that simply reaching out to a problematic individual may be enough to solve the problem, and many community managers would agree with this result. A negative community member could be lashing out because they’re having a bad day, don’t understand your community rules (or that they’re breaking them), or had a frustrating customer service issue that you can address. Regardless of the specific situation, talking to them one-on-one could well be enough to resolve it.
However, about 2 percent of Riot’s negative players didn’t improve regardless of punishment. These are the sorts of community members we might kindly refer to as “trolls” — individuals who seem intent on causing trouble no matter how much you try to help or work with them. Riot typically offers lenient punishments with many second chances, which allow individuals an opportunity to improve. In the case of this 2 percent, that only meant these problematic community members stayed in the game longer, creating more negative experiences for other players that rippled through the community as a whole. For these players, Riot attempts to dish out more severe punishments sooner to keep out individuals who show “extreme cases of toxicity.”
The social lesson here is simple: while you want to encourage your community members to get along and play by the rules, you shouldn’t spend all of your time trying to reform the most negative members of your community. Sometimes paying them attention will only encourage their negative behavior, especially if they don’t want to be reformed. Don’t be afraid to impose harsh penalties, like bans, in the appropriate situations to help make the community a more positive experience for everyone.
By listening closely to your community, you’ll be able to identify and address issues before they’ve had the time to become big issues. Regardless of the exact situation or who’s in the wrong, customer complaints or frustrations will only grow worse if ignored, which can turn your community into a hotbed of negativity.
While you may be tempted to delete negative comments, unless they’re abusive or clearly violate your community rules, it can be better to keep them. Deleting comments or comment threads that are critical of your company or raise valid complaints can easily be seen as an attempt to hide something, which will only generate even more comments and complaints. Instead, try to respond quickly in order to resolve the issue before it gets any worse. By jumping in with a polite, helpful, and honest response, you’re putting a stop to the negative talk before it has a chance to snowball.
You’re also representing your brand with a positive sentiment, even in a negative conversation. Beyond resolving the situation at hand, building a reputation as responsive and helpful within your community can have a positive impact on your brand’s reputation and the tone your fans want to set.
Negativity isn’t a fact of life for online communities. With careful and attentive community management, we can encourage a positive atmosphere. This not only makes your group a more pleasant place to be, but also helps cultivate an audience that’s engaged and invested in your brand — something that any business would be happy to have.
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Do you ever get the distinct feeling that not all of your brand’s Facebook followers are seeing your Page posts? Sometimes it can even feel like your business is only seeing engagement from the same core group of people.
Those feelings might be validated by actual data. Implemented in 2010, the Facebook news feed algorithm Edgerank was created to pick and choose what Facebook users see in their News Feed. This means that Facebook is choosing which of your followers see all of the updates that you create. The Edgerank algorithm has a rather complicated, controversial history, so we’ve put together this guide to break down what it is and how to take advantage of it.
Whenever someone visits their News Feed, there are around 1,500 stories waiting to be seen from the friends, people, and Pages that they follow. Since the average person doesn’t have the time to read through 1,500 posts, Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes these stories to show users what they’re most likely to be interested in.
Facebook seeks to show you the information that you want to see without making you dig for it through a bunch of stories that, let’s just face it, you’re really not that interested in seeing.
In the spring of 2009, Facebook released the first iteration of a real-time News Feed. It was a completely unrestricted feed and would display every single story as it published. With this feed, Facebook started to see a large spike in the amount of Likes and comments from each user, which essentially created a cycle of sharing.
The increased engagement led to more content, which eventually resulted in too much noise for the user. The problem for Facebook became showing each user topical and interesting information without overwhelming them with posts. The answer came at the 2010 f8 conference with the announcement of the News Feed ranking algorithm Edgerank.
The video above includes a portion featuring Ari Steinberg, the first to introduce the idea of Edgerank at the 2010 f8 conference. His presentation included a slide with the actual formula on it:
∑ – The sum of each individual edge. An edge is a story that can show up in your News Feed, like a status update, comment, Like, tag, and so on.
u – The affinity score. This is the factor that weighs how close you are with the person doing the posting. If you frequently interact with the person posting, have several mutual friends, or are related, Facebook is more likely to give that content a higher weight.
w – The weight for this edge. Not all actions are considered equal in the eyes of Facebook’s algorithm. For example, a friend creating a status update would carry more weight than someone simply liking a status update.
d – The time decay factor. As a posts gets older, it’s more likely that it has already been seen or that it is no longer as relevant. Facebook remedies both of these problems by taking the age of the post into consideration.
Facebook is constantly making adjustments to its News Feed algorithm to make sure it’s showing users what they want to see, so it can be tough to pinpoint exactly what makes up the formula in recent years. You can follow all of the News Feed adjustments on the Facebook blog under the News Feed FYI Series, but here are some of the most important updates along with the examples they used.
Facebook developed an algorithm based on over 1,000 different factors to gauge the quality of the content a Page posts. After testing it out, Facebook saw an increase in News Feed engagement, so they made it part of the core algorithm.
Facebook found that more and more people were turning to the platform for the latest news on current events, sports, and other interests, so Facebook started to reward links to quality news sites. This update also saw the addition of the Related Articles section.
Facebook found that the more text updates that someone saw from their friends, the more inclined that person was to write one of their own, so the company increased the distribution of those posts. Although the same didn’t hold true for brands, Facebook introduced a new format for brands to share links.
Whenever one Page tagged another in an update, Facebook increased the chance that the audience of the tagged Page will see the update as well. This held especially true if Facebook deemed those audiences to be similar.
Facebook started to penalize posts that encouraged users to click links without providing much context about the content. Facebook used the post below as an example of click-bait:
Facebook realized that some posts are only interesting at certain times, so it made two updates. One was to show posts about trending topics higher in the feed. The second change was to not only look at how much engagement a post got, but when the post got engagement. Here’s an example of a trending topic:
Based on results from a massive survey, Facebook found that users were getting annoyed with Pages that only seemed to promote their own products or services. Posts that solely pushed people to a product, asked people to enter promotions, or reused the exact same content from ads saw a huge decrease in their organic reach. Facebook gave this as an example bad post:
Advocates of quality content are all for the idea of Edgerank. Imagine that you only have enough time left in the day to check out one more status update. Would you rather spend that time reading a status update shamelessly promoting a product or service, or looking at what some of your friends and family are up to?
The fact of the matter is that early adopters of Facebook advertising were in a prime position, but it just wasn’t a sustainable model for the social network. Facebook is aiming to create a better experience, and for better or worse, that experience doesn’t include individuals being aggressively targeted by ads.
The average Facebook member is likely to care very little about Edgerank. In fact, every update Facebook has made to Edgerank has led to an increase in overall engagement, so it’s unlikely individuals will be rioting over each change. The biggest arguments against the algorithm have been from brands.
The biggest argument from brands fits this general idea: they are, and have been in the past, encouraged to spend their Facebook ad dollars promoting their Pages to increase their followings. This made sense in the past. Brands would pay Facebook to increase their their follower numbers, and every time they created an organic post their followers would see it.
But now that these Edgerank updates have seriously cut into the amount of organic reach a Page’s posts get, these advertisers feel like they’ve invested into their social followings for nothing. Even brands that never spent a dime creating a following dislike Edgerank because they find it difficult to reliably reach their audiences.
Don’t trust any site, short of Facebook itself, that says it will provide you with an accurate gauge of your Edgerank. The Facebook Edgerank algorithm is built up of thousands of different factors that nobody, except the developers at Facebook, have intimate access to. So instead of trying to figure out each post’s Edgerank score, use the tips below to try your best to increase it.
So we’ve covered the formula that will put you and your brand in front of your customers; all you have to do now is put that knowledge to work. Looking at each individual factor of the Facebook news feed algorithm when creating a post can help you improve your results. Let’s break down some of the algorithm factors and discuss how improving them could lead to an increase in reach.
How can you increase the affinity score between you the person viewing your post? Build and nurture relationships with your Facebook followers. Create conversations around the things that you post and make sure to to follow up with the people who comment on your posts.
Increase the weight of the Edge with comments, Likes, and shares. Try creating a status that poses a hot or topical question, people will surely want to chime in with their own thoughts. So long as you make sure to create amazing original content, there’s a good chance that people will notice and reward it with their engagement.
This doesn’t mean that you should post updates more often than you already do. It’s important to find the perfect balance of posting frequently enough to remain fresh and infrequently enough to not overwhelm your followers. Run some tests to see how often you can post content while still seeing good reach and engagement.
The Sept. 18, 2014, update started rewarding the Pages and people who were posting about relevant and trending topics in a timely manner. Though it’s always a good idea to plan your posts in advance, don’t forget to take advantage of some of-the-moment marketing efforts.
Don’t just post your own material! Try to sprinkle in links and mentions to other thought leaders in your field. This isn’t only good in terms of expanding your reach, but it’s also great for developing relationships with the leaders of your industry.
More often than not, Facebook Pages seem to fall into the poor habit of promoting their products or solutions to their audiences. The most recent algorithm update has made this a questionable tactic. Instead, try sharing content that your audience would find useful.
Social media tools like Sprout Social can help you take advantage of all of the tips above. With Sprout, you can:
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