So which social platforms should your business be active on? This is one of the key questions for any brand considering their social marketing plan - while the usual suspects are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, there's no point scheduling 100 tweets per day if all your target audience are spending their time on Instagram.
To help brands get a better understanding of where they should be focusing their efforts, TrackMaven has released their 2016 Social Media Industry Index, which examines the performance of more than 40,000 companies across the four major social networks - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The report provides context on respective benchmarks for audience size, posting frequency, and engagement at an industry-specific level.
And their findings have uncovered some interesting results which may change the way you approach your marketing plan.
Here are the key details.
Engagement in Decline
The main note highlighted by TrackMaven's research is that overall engagement stats have declined across Instagram (-25.85%), Facebook (-8.27%) and LinkedIn (-7.6%).
Interestingly, the engagement ratio per brand increased slightly on Twitter, up 1.08%.
As you can see from the graph, Instagram has the highest average engagement ratio for brands, but the platform's latest moves towards monetization, and the introduction of their new feed algorithm, have driven down the overall engagement rate for business profiles. It's still much higher than the others, but it'll be interesting to see if those brand interactions continue to decline in the coming months.
The bad news for Twitter keeps coming - TrackMaven found that while the average monthly posting frequency for brands remained steady across Instagram and Facebook, the average number of brand tweets fell from 482 in March 2016 to 422 in June, a 14% reduction.
This makes sense - related studies have shown that referral traffic from Twitter has been in decline for some time, particularly since the platform's decision to remove share counts from their API. And while it's still one of the major social platforms, there are clearly come brands who are reducing their emphasis on tweets - which, unfortunately for Twitter, will also likely reduce the prospect of them becoming paying advertisers.
And worth noting for comparison, business activity also rose on LinkedIn:
"On LinkedIn, the average monthly posting frequency on business pages rose 30% across the first half of 2016, from 58 posts per month in January 2016 to 76 posts per month in June 2016."
Industry Specific Performance
But the most valuable aspect of TrackMaven's report is the industry-specific data, which examines which sectors are seeing the most engagement on each platform. This is important because it points to what users of each platform are interested in and are looking to share information about, giving brands a better idea as to whether those platforms are a good fit for them.
And while TrackMaven's report includes a heap of additional data on follower counts and posting frequency (which is also worth reading for the additional insight), we're going to look specifically at the average interactions charts.
First, for Facebook:
There's no major surprise in those leading organizations - Facebook's a place where people go to share entertaining content, and political discussion has been on the rise across the platform for some time. But the inclusion of "Legal Services", "Accounting" and "Retail" should alert some businesses as to the potential of the platform for reaching people looking for information on these fronts.
Seeing "Restaurants" so high on the list also underlines the way people are now using Facebook to look up reviews and get an idea of where to go out - a recent report from ReviewTrackers found that reviews on Facebook are growing at 4x the rate of other review sites, including Yelp and TripAdvisor.
It's clear that there's a growing number of consumers looking for this type of info on 'The Social Network, which presents a great opportunity for brands in those sectors.
On Twitter, the focus is similar:
Entertainment brands perform well, which makes sense, given Twitter's place as a source of breaking news and discussion. But there are some interesting additions here. Seeing "Aviation and Aerospace", "Farming" and "Sporting Goods" could provide some food for thought for brands in those sectors - at the least, it'd be worth digging a little deeper to see how those brands are generating such high levels of engagement.
On Instagram - outside of entertainment and media brands - fashion brands and sporting goods perform well, though "Consumer Electronics" is also right up there.
While on LinkedIn, more high-end brands are seeing results - most likely as a show of status among professional peers.
Those results are quite interesting - a wine company might not necessarily have considered LinkedIn as a good place to generate discussion around their business, as the on-platform focus is mostly centered on B2B brands. But as noted, its inclusion, along with jewelry, makes sense. People want to share their professional competence on the platform to put forth the image that they're someone successful, someone you want to deal with. As such, engagement around those brands probably relates.
There's a heap more data in the full report, which you can read here - and it's worth going through the numbers and seeing what's happening on each platform. The full report also includes complete breakdowns for each industry and links to the leading brands behind the statistical trends for further context.