If you use social media for your business, you already know the importance of social media engagement: that all-purpose generic term that strikes fear into the heart of social media marketers everywhere.

Engagement is any type of like/comment/share/follow/subscribe activity that is taken by your community, and is what helps organically build a following on that social channel.  The challenge, of course, is creating content that will be engagement-worthy.

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Social Media Engagement

This post is about math.  Well, sort of math.  This post is about understanding engagement ratios.  Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule.

80% of your time will be consumed with 20% of your people.  80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customer base. Let's extend that to social media – 80% of your engagement will come from 20% of your follower community. So that means you're really posting content for a tiny subset of your communities.

Let's break this down. The math works out approximately like this.

  • 80% of your followers on any social channel will rarely or never engage. They are lurkers. Or maybe they are not even seeing what you post. They will probably never buy from you. They might check-in just to see what's happening, but are not your core followers. They are not raving fans hanging on your every post — no matter how good your content is.
  • 16% of your followers will be occasional engagers. They might like or comment on a popular post or tune in occasionally to your livestream broadcasts. They like your content and consider your community one worth checking in with regularly. They will buy your “standard” products, but only when the value proposition is “worth it” to them. They don't go seeking your products on their own.
  • 4% of your followers are your passionate community. They will engage, like, comment, share, tune-in, subscribe, and refer their friends. They will buy your premium products and be your brand ambassadors. They will follow you to new platforms. These are the community members to keep happy.

So see how that math breaks down? Approximately 80/20: with the 20% being your occasional and frequent community members.

Think about any Facebook group of which you are a member or one you moderate. With very few exceptions (ie, in public groups), these ratios apply. 80% of the group activity (or more) comes from 20% of the group members (or less).

Think about the newsletters you send out to your community. 80% of the views come from 20% of the subscribers. On your Instagram feed, I bet that 80% of the comments and likes come from 20% of your followers.

So what do we make of all this?

We all struggle with the constant balance of quantity vs. quality of followers. How many fans on your Facebook business page is “good enough?”

Well…  that depends on how many are engaging. You want to grow your base (quantity) as large as you can so that your 80/16/4 ratios proportionally grow as well (quality).

If you have only 100 followers on any particular channel, but have regularly active engagement of 20ish people, then you're doing awesome at 20%. If you have 1000 followers, but only those same 20ish people are engaging? Your social media engagement ratio dropped to 2%. Your content isn't providing enough value that warrants the like, comment, or share.

How do you do that? Check your content strategy.

Your content should reflect who you are as a businessperson – Purposeful and Personality-driven content that is interesting, useful, humorous, and for the value of your community. Not just what you're promoting.

It's a bit counterintuitive, but serve your 4% passionate community, and their engagement is going to push your content out to more of your followers. Stop worrying about the 80% that never engage. Serve your core with great content, and they'll refer you to their friends.

Not sure what kind of content you should be posting? The 3Ps is great place to start.

So my challenge for you is this: go look at any online community you are part of and study their social media engagement. You will probably find the 80/16/4 rule applies. Then think about your content and how you can post content that would be more useful or engaging to your 4%ers.


Brenda Ster sitting at her desk with her phone in both hands with the words When posting remember the 80/20 rule for the blog post Social Media Engagement The Rule of 8020

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