When we originally posted about an interesting study from Tulane University suggesting that you may have to re-think how you engage with your audience on social media, a lot of changes to social media have occurred since then. However, a major issue that the study mentions still reigns to be true; "likes" are not enough to get sales.
Consumer interests, social media algorithms, and social media rankings for types of engagement (likes, shares, saves, etc) have constantly changed, causing social media marketers to be on their toes. Brands, small businesses, influencers, and social media blogs have talked about the decrease in their organic reach, making it harder for them to reach their customer base, forcing them to ask followers to engage with their content so it will show up in the news feed. In fact, the average reach for an organic Facebook post keeps on declining year after year, with it now being down to 5.2%. One of the most talked-about changes in a social media platform algorithm was Facebook's announcement that they would prioritize content from friends and family over businesses and change which post reactions they deem helpful.
Because of the constant changes on social media platforms, on-platform paid advertising should be considered alongside their organic content. As Daniel Mochon, associate professor of marketing at A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University stated, “When we think of Facebook, we think of it as a very social platform. Most companies think that those social interactions will lead to more customer loyalty and more profitable customers,” Mochon said. “That’s not necessarily the case.”
In the study, they partnered with a health insurance company called Discovery Health who used their wellness program's Facebook page called Discovery Vitality. Consumers can earn points, and therefore get rewards, for engaging in healthy activities. The team wondered if convincing customers to like Vitality's page would lead them to earn more points.
The new customers were invited to take a survey and were randomly invited to like the brand's Facebook page. Those who were not invited were the control group.
After being monitored for four months, the research team discovered there was no difference in the number of points earned. However, when Vitality used Facebook to sponsor two posts a week to the liking group for two months, that group earned 8% more reward points than the control group. The study suggests that the ads were effective because they were more likely to reach customers.
Even though sponsored posts have proven that they can be effective in gaining customers and sales, organic content can be as well, but social media managers need to stay on top of the algorithm changes. Trying to figure out the changes can be stressful and time-consuming, but we have outlined an easy-to-digest post for you here. Customize the strategies to your brand and you may see an increase in engagement, leading to an increase in return on investment (ROI.)