On social media, the most popular word is ‘I’

On social media, the most popular word is ‘I’

Many brands struggle to generate engagement on their Facebook pages. So if it’s happening to your company, don’t feel lonely – there are lots and lots of brands who only generate a handful of likes on each post.

As we know, lack of engagement reduces the percentage of your fanbase that will see your content, this in turn limits organic & viral reach. So for a brand trapped in a downward spiral of reaching less fans and generating less likes and shares and comments, Facebook can be a frustrating platform. This is why we preach not to concentrate on reach but rather engagement, you can’t affect reach by looking at reach.

However, there’s also a common theme that is found within brands of all sizes on social media. They haven’t realised a simple, essential truth of social media. People want to talk about themselves.

More often than not, brands post about themselves, their products or services. It’s what they’re used to doing, it’s how traditional ‘one-way’ marketing works. There are rare exceptions, but in general most products and services do not generate a lot of conversation about themselves. For instance, what is there to say about donuts? They’re delicious? Fattening, look great/awful. Of course, but beyond these obvious comments, the real conversation – the long term conversation that can be generated around a donut is not focused on the donut.

What are people really talking about then? They are talking about their experiences with donuts, in donut shops, making donuts, the price of donuts, their favourite donuts, they are talking about their opinions of donuts, stories that involve themselves and may also be tangentially related to donuts. People are attempting to shoehorn in memorable life events: “I met my wife in the queue at the donut shop”, they are showing off their collections of donut memorabilia or expert donut knowledge. They taking part in conversation, they are part of a community with a shared interest in donuts, discussing other things from their own individual points of view.

They are talking about themselves!

Many brands simply don’t facilitate this type of conversation on social media, insisting conversation be focused around the brand or the products all of the time. This isn’t appealing for fans, for anyone – so people leave. As soon as the conversation isn’t interesting for a person, they will leave.

On social media the most important – the only important thing is engagement, and conversation is the most important form of engagement.

As a brand, if you can generate conversation on your social media pages, you’ll see every metric increase. Posts with comments have on average four times higher clickthrough rates. The more comments a post has the greater its individual reach will be. The longer term benefits are that your posts will be considered interesting by Facebook and shown initially to a greater percentage of your page fans. Viral growth from conversation means more fans who are genuinely interested in your brand and are more likely to engage with your content which in turn means more viral growth.

In short: conversation is good.

And far from attempting to control conversation on their page, brands should be concentrating on encouraging it and attempting to understand what their audience and community want to talk about.

This itself should be an iterative process – a good community manager has an instinct already about what subjects and questions will spark discussion, this should be backed up with real data.

Post, observe, refine and repeat.

Don’t simply take our word for it either. On Social Media you can react with speed – so try making the conversation about your fans in your next post. You might be surprised how quickly you’ll see results.