As a Social Media Agency, we know that 100 thousand followers has a ring to it.
It’s that magical number that all brands aspire to reach. 10k seems to legitimise your brand, and 100k means you’re an industry leader.
And it makes sense.
One of the first things a consumer will do when they hear about your brand is look you up on social media. And if they’re under the age of 35, they’ll head straight to Instagram.
When it comes to first engaging a potential customer, you need those vanity metrics such as likes, followers, and comments to entice them into your brand. It’s called social proofing, and basically means convincing other people to be interested in your brand by showing them how many people already are.
What a ‘low level’ of followers is, depends on the industry you’re in. For location-based brands, it’ll most likely be anything in the triple figures. For brands not restricted to location or a niche industry, then it’ll be anything under four figures (generally).
When most brands start out on social, gaining followers can seem simple. You create a good product with social media content to match, customers find your product, find your brand on social media, like the product, like the feed, and they follow. They then tell their friends about your brand, and slowly but surely, you begin to grow. Bing. Bang. Boom. You’re insta-famous.
Yet, it’s not that easy.
Anyone who’s tried to grow any sort of social media following or credibility will know that gaining followers can feel like screaming into an empty room - no matter how much effort you put into creating good content, it’s always the same people coming back. And that’s because content is the main driver behind retention, not growth.
Organic content is important for when people find your brand - but they won’t find your brand through organic content (unless it’s some really good reactive content).
It used to be the case that you could encourage growth by engaging on the platform; following other users, commenting on their posts, and liking their photos could get you a solid 100-200 followers a day.
Yet, as Facebook does, it found a way to monetise growth, and in came advertising. The more Facebook streamlined the ad process, and the more effective ads became, the harder it became to grow accounts organically. Reach came down, engagement rates dropped, and new followers were few and far between. Unless, of course, you were spending money.
Facebook growth in itself has always been tricky, and in the early days, growth was predominantly based upon offline promotions, quickly transitioning to paid promotions once they become available.
But Instagram was different. Simply by using the platform and engaging with other users, you could both benefit through likes, comments, and followers. There used to be no activity cap, meaning that you could spend hours scrolling through Instagram and interacting with other accounts in order to encourage growth.
According to Combin, the current limits are:
“500 likes, 400 comments and 300 follow/unfollow actions per day, and up to 125 likes, 100 comments and about 75 follow/unfollow actions every 6 hours, respectively.”
Because everyone realised that you could create growth through this method, Instagram became extremely spammy, and so, they had to cut down. That makes it great for the casual user, but frustrating (and expensive) for businesses.
The same is currently happening for TikTok. Users found out that by clicking share but then clicking cancel, TikTok still counted it as sharing the post, meaning that unpopular posts would seem more popular than they are, and more likely to make it to the homescreen.
In response, Facebook improved their ads, meaning that the most effective and fastest way to grow was by spending money. Because of this, organic reach and engagement dropped to encourage more people to spend money on the platform.
On Facebook, the median engagement for 2019 is currently sitting at 0.09% with the highest engagement coming from the alcohol industry (0.14%), and the lowest coming from the fashion industry (0.4%). Last year, the median was 0.18%. That’s a 50% loss in a single year from a median that wasn’t even that high in the first place.
And for reach, it’s the same story.
In 2013, Facebook reach was around 12%, falling to half that at just over 6% by early 2014. By 2015, the reach had fallen even further to 5.4%, and in 2018, reach was just 1.2%.
In one year, Instagram’s engagement dropped by more than 50%, currently sitting at 1.2%.
The figures for reach are slightly better. Yet, the more that you grow, the lower your reach becomes, meaning that although your content will be shown to more people simply due to the number of followers, you’ll be missing out on a large chunk of a potentially interested audience.
And this is all because ad expenditure has increased.
The more brands spend on ads, the more incentive Instagram has to show those ads, and the less incentive they have to show unpaid content.
There is a point at which more ads can’t be shown. Nobody would use a platform that only shows them what businesses want them to see, and we’re now at near-full capacity. That means that the price of ads will increase, and brands will have to pay more in order to get their ad seen. It’s simple supply and demand, and Facebook have perfected the system.
So, how do you get to 100k followers? Smart ad campaigns.
Facebook will make you pay for anything you can personally monetise on the platform i.e. engagement. Yet, if you are willing to pay, then Facebook will help you to get your money’s worth.
At the end of the day, Facebook are another business. They want you to spend with them, and if you do, they’ll treat you right to ensure that you keep spending with them.
And that’s why Facebook ads work, because both you and Facebook want them to.
Using ads, we took a restaurant start-up with a brand new profile and grew it by over 1000 followers in a month on both Facebook and Instagram. And that’s for a location based service - we were only targeting people in the area who could actually engage with the brand. For brands with a wider audience, the growth will be quicker and stronger.
And how much will it cost?
The average cost per like not only increases and falls throughout the year, but does so within the week and within the hours of the day. October and November are the most expensive months, Thursday and Friday are the most expensive days, and 3-7 pm is the most expensive time.
Conversely, January is the cheapest month, Sunday and Tuesday are the cheapest days, and midnight to 5 am is the cheapest time. The rates are set this way due to the number of users on the platform and the likelihood of receiving an action (click, follow, like, comment, etc.).
The times with the most amount of traffic will also be the most expensive as more brands will be trying to advertise and therefore, the real estate is worth more, and the price of the ad space increases.
For the second quarter of 2019:
Median CPC was $0.64
Median CPM was $7.77
Median CTR was 1.20%
The above figures are for the feed, but there are two main ways to advertise on Facebook, and the other is panels. Of course, you can also advertise through messenger and stories, but the hot debate is between the feed and panels, so that’s where we’ll be looking.
The below figures are for panel advertising in the second quarter of 2019:
Median CPC was $2.15
Median CPM was $2.28
Median CTR was 0.1%
Clearly, the feed is still champion when it comes to returns and clicks, but the panel may be best for brand awareness and reach.
What about Instagram?
For Q2, the stats for the feed were:
Median CPC was $0.67
Median CPM was $6.09
Median CTR was 0.88%
And for stories:
Median CPC was $0.76
Median CPM was $3.96
Median CTR was 0.54%
Remember, it’s all about net profit. You may spend £500 on a likes campaign, but then make that back (and more) through 100 new customers. The initial spend might be high, but once you’ve got to that point, you have both an audience and data - both of which can be invaluable in the long-run.
If you want to learn how to grow your brand online, then get in contact.