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Posting on social media takes time and effort. If you’re anything like me, it takes way more time than I ever expect that it will. When we spend time crafting social posts, we want them to be successful, to perform well. When they don’t, it can often be difficult to to understand why.
With so much information (and misinformation) swirling around the internet, it’s hard for people to know for sure what best practices are in regards to social media. And, with the constantly changing landscape of social media platforms, it often seems as soon as a fact surfaces, it just as quickly becomes untrue.
But have no fear! At Speak, our team of social media experts are tasked with keeping up to date on everything you need to know so you can make the most of your social media platforms and use all the right practices to grow your audience. We previously busted these 5 social media myths, and today we’re busting 4 more.
So, strap on your mythbusting goggles, because we’re getting you fully equipped to be a social media master.
Myth number one has been hotly contested for years now. As Instagram has more and more become seen as a space for businesses and influencers to market and grow, users have found several ways to go about using hashtags, from including them in their captions to using a “first comment” feature on social sharing apps like Sprout, to including hashtags on story posts.
But, do hashtags really help to improve the reach of your posts on Instagram? It’s long been believed that they do. However, recent research and a comment from Instagram Chief Adam Mosseri suggests that hashtags don’t actually help increase views and engagement.
According to Mosseri, Instagram hashtags weren’t designed to maximize visibility. The actual focus of them is to categorize posts that share similar content or subject matter in order to better connect users quickly to what they’re looking for.
Intention or not though, hashtags should still help to improve distribution and reach, right? On our own Instagram account, @speakcreative, we’ve seen firsthand that more people see our posts when we use hashtags, and we can track exactly how many non-followers find our posts from specific hashtags that we’ve included.
A recent study from SocialInsider analyzed over 75 million Instagram posts to see what the data really says about the effectiveness of Instagram hashtags on post views. The ultimate finding? While including a small handful of hashtags may help get more eyes on your post, increasing the number of hashtags an Instagram post has does not influence post distribution.
The age-old saying rings true yet again: quality over quantity really does make the difference. The data shows that the highest average engagement rate by impressions comes to posts that use 3-4 hashtags. While it may be tempting to use as many relevant (or irrelevant) hashtags as you can come up with to generate more views, even Instagram itself has noted that sticking to 3-5 hashtags is the best strategy to use when aiming for a wider post distribution.
Of course, all of this depends on your specific audience, the types of—and commonality of— hashtags you use, and the goals you want to achieve. It also depends, at least minimally, on the size of your following. If you want to be sure you’re giving your Instagram the best chance to grow and reach your target audience, we highly recommend speaking to industry professionals to get some individualized advice. Taking advantage of tricks like using the right hashtags for your target audience, using keywords, and not being afraid to opt for more niche hashtags rather than the major players that are included in millions of posts a day, can benefit your reach. An expert, like a digital marketing agency, can help you get results and see ROI for your time spent.
If you’re posting on social media with the goal of growing your audience, it’s important that you’re tracking your engagement and taking actions to improve it wherever possible. Knowing which days and at what times you posted that saw the highest engagement is a great way to analyze when the most people are on social media and will potentially see your post.
Sprout Social recently gathered data on the best times and days to post on social channels in terms of engagement. While this data differs across each of the social platforms and even across industries, broadly they saw consistently that the highest times of engagement were Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9am or 10am. According to Sprout, “midweek mornings proved to be a successful time across most social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.”
If you want advice from social media experts who know the ins and outs of audience growth for your specific industry, an agency like Speak that works with niche industries from Healthcare to Cultural Attractions to Non-Profits and everything in between would be happy to help.
In a recent survey conducted by Speak Creative that analyzed the digital marketing efforts of a national cross-section of cultural attractions, we asked survey respondents what social platforms they are taking advantage of in their social media marketing campaigns. Unsurprisingly, 100% of attractions surveyed are utilizing both Instagram and Facebook.
It’s a common belief that the two social media powerhouses get the best results for organizations. However, in looking at website traffic data, which allows us to see, beyond post engagement and visibility, which platforms are bringing the most people to your website, our data shows that nearly half of all attractions surveyed saw Twitter as their second-highest source of social traffic, following Facebook.
This may be due to the nature of Twitter. With only 140 characters to convey your message, users have no choice but to produce quickly digestible content content. For organizations, this can mean Twitter posts act as a sort of elevator pitch for your offerings and missions. Instagram on the other hand is inherently a more interactive platform, so while more users may be likely to interact with your Instagram posts through likes and comments, users are more likely to stay on Instagram rather than heading to your website from a post.
Twitter also offers targeting capabilities that can track purchase behavior, dialect, interests, and more, which aids paid advertising through the app. According to HubSpot, engagement rates for Twitter ads can be as high as 1-3%, much higher than Facebook’s average CTR of 0.119%.
The key takeaway here? While often overlooked, Twitter can be a major driver of website traffic. While Instagram does drive some traffic, in most cases, Twitter outperforms it. That’s not to say that you should be avoiding Instagram, or any social platform for that matter. Each social platform brings its own benefits, and taking advantage of as many as you can gives you the best chance at widening your reach to potential customers.
Misconceptions abound around Instagram Stories, perhaps because they came about following the popularity of Snapchat stories, which are known for being an intimate means of sharing real life moments and memories closely with friends. The 24-hour time limit of a story post on either platform may make it seem like these posts aren’t worth using for the purpose of growth and engagement, particularly for organizations.
However, while nearly a clone of Snapchat’s main sharing feature, Instagram Stories are unique in that they act as both a more personal sharing platform and a great way to grow your account if you use the feature right. When looking at site data, Speak saw that Instagram feed posts and Instagram story posts contributed equally to website traffic. With the addition of Instagram link stickers to Instagram Stories, stories have a major possibility to surpass feed posts as a driver of traffic in 2022.
If your organization is not yet taking advantage of this side of Instagram, dive in. The even better part? Stories require less pressure to produce clean, perfect visual content. Have fun exploring Instagram stories, and if one doesn’t work out, no biggie. It expires in 24 hours anyway.
Knowing the ins and outs of social media channels can be a huge start to knowing how to best use social media marketing in your growth efforts. However, every audience is different, and not all industries should be using social media in the exact same way. If you’re looking for expert advice on how to expand your reach and grow your audience through social media, give us a shout. We’d love to chat through your goals and ideas and help you make a splash on socials this year.