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The Proper Response To Worries About Organic Reach

Why Low Engagement Is A Call To Action

There’s been some chatter this week about the declining rate of organic reach of social media, that individuals are increasingly failing to engage with brands online. A recent report by social@Ogilvy has found that the organic reach of large Facebook pages (those with over half a million likes) had dropped to 2.11% - that’s the proportion of people who liked, shared, or commented on posts by the brand, out of those who liked the corporate page in the first place.

Since a large part of social media marketing is the opportunity to connect directly with consumers, to build conversations centred around the brand, companies may begin to wonder whether maintaining a social media presence is worthwhile in the face of such apparently miniscule return.

The answer, of course, is yes, for a number of reasons which are obvious upon further consideration.

The Forrester report ‘Why Facebook Is Failing Marketers’ notes that thanks to Facebook’s algorithms only 16% of those who have liked a brand’s page actually see its content on their Feed, while ‘the average marketing email…is delivered to more than 90% of the people who agreed to hear from that brand again’. Since Gmail helpfully separates promotional emails from the rest of my inbox, I can see that in action for myself. I currently have 703 promotional emails sitting unread, and unlikely to ever be read. Is this really greater reach than seeing the one or two examples of brand content daily that I may actually be interested in?

And that’s to say nothing of traditional media; the implication of this report is that if brands aren’t investing social media, then that investment should be happening elsewhere. But how many billboards do you drive past, how many magazine ads do you flick through, without even registering what’s on offer? Good social media promotion is about engaging with consumers and while that’s difficult (as the figures suggest), at least it’s actually achievable – unlike the constant background hum of traditional media which most people do their best to tune out throughout their day.

Furthermore, the very fact that these figures are available demonstrates the superior potential of social media as a marketing tool. Who’s to say how many people actually read an advert, or pay attention to a television commercial, without an expensive and unreliable survey? Beyond even that, are the kinds of people who are willing to answer queries about their brand engagement over the phone really representative of consumers as a whole? This data shouldn’t be used to criticise social media as a medium, but rather should be spurring on brands to actually be the kind of entity which users want to be part of a conversation with.

Brands who complain that they’re not getting enough engagement on social media are like children who take everyone’s toys and then whine that no one wants to play with them. A conversation is precisely that – an exchange in which both parties contribute equally. Companies which excel at social media – Old Spice and Dominos being two good examples – have built the kind of brand loyalty and customer satisfaction which would have been wholly unachievable in the pre-digital era, and they didn’t do it by shoehorning old media techniques into an online environment.

If you want to see returns on your social media investment, you have to see it as an investment: of time, of creativity. Customers will respond to this far more than any number of spam emails.


Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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The Proper Response To Worries About Organic Reach Reviewed by Douglas Clarke-Williams on Monday, September 08, 2014 Rating: 5
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