If your brand has experienced a drop in organic traffic and engagement on social media recently, you’re not alone. Rival IQ’s Social Media Benchmark Report for 2023 found that average engagement rates are declining across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Organic social has, in general, been trending downwards for years in terms of both traffic and engagement, so this in itself is nothing new. But there’s one notable exception in this latest review – TikTok. Among all industries, the average engagement rate for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter never tops 0.47% and, while Instagram took a 30% dip year on year and Facebook and Twitter remained flat, TikTok’s engagement rate came in at a whopping 5.69%.
TikTok has clearly disrupted the way social media works. Casey Newton, the founder of tech blog Performer, writes: ‘At first, social networks showed you stuff your friends thought was interesting – the Facebook model. Then they started showing you stuff based on the people that you chose to follow, whether you were friends or not – the Twitter model. TikTok’s innovation was to show you stuff using only algorithmic predictions, regardless of who your friends are or who you followed’.
Brands are flocking to TikTok in their droves, and TikTok-like formats on other platforms (Instagram reels, for example) have dethroned other formats (such as carousels) for the title of most engaging post-type elsewhere. But with Instagram’s user base continuing to increase, brands can’t afford to ignore other social channels completely. Instead, it’s worth taking note of what it is that gives TikTok the edge when it comes to organic engagement, and developing a social media strategy that reflects the type of social content with which audiences are engaging.
It could be argued that TikTok is not actually a social network at all, but a content discovery platform at heart, and the success of the TikTok model indicates a shift in the way consumers are using social media – with content overtaking communities as a driver for engagement.
The easiest way to boost reach and engagement on social channels is to increase your paid social budget, but relying on growth from social media advertising is like renting an audience. Organic social is the foundation on which social media strategy relies. Buying reach and engagement will only get you the numbers, but a consistent and creative social media strategy with content tailored specifically to the platform and audience are what’s required to build brands, relationship, and trust.
With this in mind, here are some of our top tips for getting your organic social right:
- Tailor your creative to each channel, and make the most of all the different formats available. Never take a one-size-fits-all approach. Consider the demographics of each platform and focus on those that make the most sense for your audience. For example, if you plan to reach a younger audience, learn TikTok hashtag challenges, Snapchat Filters, and Instagram reels, and make sure you’re using tools like geotags and shopping tags where appropriate to maximise performance.
- Explore new social media channels. Don’t discount TikTok as a platform just for Gen Z (consider Mumtok, Booktok, or Cooktok) or not the right fit for your creative. As the report highlights above, it is the only channel where engagement rates are currently rising so it is worth investing in creative that works for the channel.
- Leverage relationships with social media influencers and ambassadors. Influencer content generally has the potential to get higher organic engagement than content shared from brand accounts, and there’s a higher level of trust.
With ad budgets down, and a new TikTok-shaped player on the block, competition for organic reach is up. To stay on top, the best brands will be the ones with the most creative content strategies in place – ensuring they reach the most relevant audiences with the type of content they enjoy consuming.