Social media "reach" is a media analytics metric that refers to the number of users who have come across a particular content on a social platform such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Organic vs Paid Reach
Organic reach is the number of people who have seen your content through "unpaid" distribution, i.e. without you putting a budget towards reaching a specific audience. The metric is represented as a number of unique accounts who saw your post in their news feed, watched a story or reel, or otherwise browsed your account.
Unlike paid content (such as Facebook ads), organic posts are generally not served to specific target audiences. So, this relies on each social media network's algorithms.
Each social media network has a proprietary algorithm that defines how organic content is distributed on their platform. In other words, they, through this algorithm, determine who gets to see your posts. And, it's no secret that the primary goal of most social platforms is to drive a pay-to-play model for brands/businesses, like yours.
While we don’t know all the details of how these proprietary algorithms decide what to show people (and what not to show people) we do know that one of the main goals is to keep people scrolling on the platform, so that they see more ads.
What does this mean for brands? When it comes to increasing organic reach, the Facebook algorithm will reward you for posting content that people "engage" with so that they stay longer on the social media platform.
Now on to the key question: Do scheduling tools really affect reach on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter?
The answer is no.
However, we do need to point out that a lot of the heavy research has been carried out by scheduling tool providers like HootSuite, Sprout Social, Falcon, Buffer etc.
With that in mind, we did do our own research and investigations on the subject and listened to quite a few podcasts, and we'll be sticking to our “no”.
We created a scheduling tool at AreTheyHappy as we recognized that it would be practically impossible for today's digital marketer to do their job effectively without a scheduler. Sticking to the social media strategies that we have in the digital age would be a total nightmare, and they would have to be present in each of their accounts of all their locations 24/7.
⚠ There is one caveat. Relying solely on a scheduling tool to keep your feeds updated, without interacting with your followers, will have a poor impact on your post "engagement" performance.
If you schedule your posts, you need to schedule at time when you can be active and present on your page to respond and engage with your followers. Note: The algorithms often gives "comments" far more weight than "likes" or even "shares."
If you don’t, your "engagement" rate is going to nose dive, then shortly after, so will your "reach." Fewer of your posts will appear in your followers feeds --- not because you’ve used a scheduling tool, but because of other factors, including the fact that you’re not engaging with your followers, and your post gets lost in the abyss of content with little to no interactions.
"Reach" Trends and what you can do about it
With most social platforms operating on a pay-to-play model, it has been widely observed (and accepted) that organic reach - regardless of whether you post via the AreTheyHappy Publisher or directly on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter itself, has declined in recent years, and it is hovering at about a 5% mark for all industries, [Source: We Are Social] but possibly as low as <0.5% for hospitality. [Source: Social Insider]
Despite these numbers, organic is still important to do!
Marketers often underestimate the importance of organic marketing.
Organic posts are the foundation that a paid strategy rests on. Behind every successful "paid" campaign with great paid reach, is a consistent and creative social media presence that strengthens the brand recognition, brand positioning, relationships, and trust in your business.
So, what can you do to make sure you keep your engagement rate up whilst using scheduling tools?
Decide on the right balance of scheduled posts vs “in the moment” posts that would work for your team. Personally, we would schedule around 75% of content, while the other 25% are "in the moment" posts from your marketers while they use Facebook/IG/Twitter.
Create your posts with the same mindset as you would if you were publishing in real time. As a brand, you're trying to spark conversation, even though your audience wont see the post for another day or two.
It’s important you don’t forget about "actively supporting" your posts. You still need to check in on your Facebook/IG/Twitter posts multiple times a day to see how these are performing and respond to any shares and comments.
Still in doubt? Scroll to the bottom of the page for some advice from our Lead Marketer, Liviu Runcan.
🚀 Power Tips for your Team
1. Learn best practices for each social media platform
As a general rule, content that is designed specifically for the platform it’s going on performs better. Learn the in’s and out’s of the different channels so that you can use social media features to their fullest potential. Contact us if you'd like to know more about writing good captions for Instagram, using hashtags, creating great videos etc. All of these can boost the reach of organic content if you use them well.
2. Learn more with our platform-specific guides:
3. Develop a social strategy and social calendar
Have a look at your social demographics on AreTheyHappy and compare that with the tagging insights you have gathered on AreTheyHappy.
4. Focus on value for your customers
Give people a reason to stay and engage with your content. This could mean entertainment value, awesome photos of your new menus, new experiences, inspirational content, or occasional competitions and giveaways!
5. Engage your team
What better place to look for brand advocates than your own team? Studies show that potential customers trust a business’s employees more than journalists, advertisers and CEOs. So, getting your team involved in distributing your content on social media will help spread love for the brand!
6. Tag and collaborate
Beyond working with influencers, look for ways to collaborate with other accounts. Collabs and crossovers have the potential to spark early engagement and expose accounts to similar audiences. And, of course, don't forget to repost photos from your customers! No better way to gain love than by sharing love/helping your own followers out, too!
7. Post about People
This leads nicely to our next point that people connect with people more than products and services. Add photos of your service front line, chefs in action, or customers to the mix. A study by Yahoo Labs and Georgia Institute of Technology looked at 1.1 million photos on Instagram, and researchers found that photos containing faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more comments.
8. Be consistently awesome
You know the drill. Post regularly, post with variety, and post at the right time. When is that, exactly? There are some starting points [from Hootsuite] but always double-check with your analytics and adjust accordingly every week/month/quarter.
Facebook - The best time to post on Facebook is 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Instagram - The best time to post on Instagram is 11:00 AM on Wednesdays.
Twitter - The best time to post on Twitter is 8:00 AM on Mondays and Thursdays.
LinkedIn - The best time to post on LinkedIn is 9:00 AM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
9. Engage fast and often
Linked to posting consistency is engagement consistency. After you post something, stick around and respond to your first few comments. This will increase the odds of you receiving more. Research from Twitter shows that people are willing to spend up to 20% more with brands that respond to their tweets.
On a regular basis, check yourself, your assumptions and biases. On a monthly or quarterly, spend time looking at your competitors, reading up on marketing trends, as well as your own tagging insights and adjust your content and approach accordingly.
Still in Doubt about schedulers?
Here are some final words of advice from our Lead Marketer, Liviu Runcan.
Liviu Runcan: In our experience, working with many hospitality brands like yours, reach is a variable that goes up and down constantly, due to various factors - not least of all the ad hoc changes to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter's algorithms (that no one has any control over), and this makes it that much hard to predict and correlate results on social.
Algorithm changes on the social channels in the new feed, mentions from other (more followed) pages, app usage by demographic in your country or region can all influence reach and engagement. From the hour and day of publishing, to the number of pages or users tagged, these can also make a difference. Correlating the decrease to just one factor, i.e. publishing tools, can be misleading.
If you still think the problem is the use of a scheduler, whether it's AreTheyHappy, Hootsuite or other, you could ask your marketing team to create a control group experiment to help you narrow down the source of your posts' reach decline:
compare your performance with current industry benchmarks, i.e. hospitality benchmarks by Social Insider
pick a time frame for experimenting ( 2-3 months)
choose various ways of posting ( schedule with third party tool, schedule native in the SM platform, and post live etc)
give each method ample time in order to fairly compare, i.e. for the first month, use a scheduler like AreTheyHappy. For the second month, use native scheduling directly on the social network channel. For the final month, post live only. Ensure that you post at the same times, and use the same or very similar kinds of posts (video, picture, text etc). Tweak the experiment methodology to ensure it fits in with your resources. The most important is to test each method consistently and fairly, so that you don’t fall to sample size bias.
Breakdown your results via the types of posts from each month, i.e. video - reach/engagement in month 1, month 2, month 3 and so on.
It is our mission to help you listen and engage with your customer in the most personal way possible, despite the clear trend towards digital.
We do hope that you continue to work with us, as we have a lot of innovative features to help your brands efficiently connect with your customers. Examples include: dynamic placeholders, repost functionality, review carousels for your website etc.
If you have any questions, i.e. questions about best practice, guidance around content, posting times, please don't hesitate to reach out via your support chat or via email at [email protected].