69% of American's use social media, so it's no surprise that most business owners and marketers spend a great deal of time developing strategies to reach this audience to sell their products & services.
Organic Reach Has Dropped
Unfortunately however, as platforms like Facebook & Instagram have matured, organic reach has sharply dropped off for business pages and at the same time, the cost to buy ads on both platforms has risen substantially as demand has grown. The reason for this is explained by developers as their way of ensuring that the quality of the user experience is positive by weeding out less relevant content and thereby providing only the best quality posts in a users feed using highly sophisticated algorithms. In short, this means that regardless of the number of followers a businesses has on social media, the typical organic reach from an un-boosted post is only about 3-5% of those followers that will see it. So, if a business has 5,000 followers, a typical un-boosted post will only reach about 250 of them.
Advertising Costs on Social Media Have Grown by 20x
Furthermore, it's easy to see another connection between the drop in organic reach and the increase of advertising costs, as the long term goal for social media platforms has always been to monetize their platforms. The best way to monetize social media platforms appears to be to throttle & minimize businesses organic reach so that they have no choice but to pay for ads to reach their followers and target audiences.
In 2009, I was buying Facebook ads for a business I owned and was paying on average about 28 cents per 1,000 impressions (CPM), while today that same ad buy would generally cost between $5 - $10 per 1,000 impressions. Using simple math, the cost to advertise on Facebook has increased over 20x over the past 10 years! The good news is that even with that in mind - buying ads on Facebook remains a very good value proposition for most businesses when you consider the potential for mass reach and targeting. (For help improving your ROI from Facebook ads schedule a FREE MARKETING ANALYSIS with me HERE.)
Having explained all of this, it is still possible to maximize your businesses reach on social media with the potential to have the occasional post go viral. As an example, last week one of my posts on Linkedin became a 'What People Are Talking About' trending story on the sidebar of the Linkedin home page and reached 16x more Linkedin users than I have as followers - in order words, over 16,000 people viewed my post while I only have slightly over 1,000 connections on the platform. How did this happen? Keep reading.
Here are my 5 Secrets to Going Viral on Social Media
1. Know who your best most profitable customer is, and post content as though it was only for him or her. You cannot be everyone's everything if you want great marketing to return great results.
2. Use the right platforms to speak to your best most profitable customer. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin all have different purposes and are consumed differently by it's users.
3. Post content that is relevant, timely and engaging. The algorithm for each platform scans your posts for keywords, picture content, location data, hashtags and more to determine where it should be featured within users feeds.
4. Schedule your posts for the right time of the day based on the usage habits of your intended users. As an example, when I post content targeting C-level executives, I get the most interaction from them when I post earlier in the morning.
5. Be consistent. It's highly improbable that you'll be lucky enough to have a high percent of your content go viral, but at the same time - it's impossible to have ANY of your content go viral if you don't post regularly. Consistency sends the message to your followers that you can be counted on to be there, in everything else you do and gives you the chance to stumble into favorable algorithm that finds your content compelling and places it into a prominent place in users feeds.
BONUS TIP: Don't try to game the system simply to get followers or interaction. Quality matters. Posting cat video's or cute meme's that have nothing to do with your business might get likes or comments, but in the long term does nothing for your brand credibility or sales.
Mark Steckman is a Senior Broadcast & Digital Marketing Consultant with Beasley Media Group in sunny Tampa, Florida. His client portfolio includes many best-in-class clients from the largest international brands to brand new start-up ventures. An expert marketer, and lover of compelling content, Mark has over 25 years experience as a business owner, leader and successful marketing executive.