When creating and executing your social media strategy, you want objective data to guide you, not just gut instinct. Every marketing team does. Of course, there’s a place for having a good feel for what might work. Ideally, though, every major decision you make – be it where to direct your budget or what sort of content to create – would at least be rooted in concrete data. That gives you something you can point to in order to justify the strategy in your next board meeting.
That’s why we created the Emplifi CX Index, leveraging data from over 1,000 clients to help give you a real-world peek at how other brands are using – and succeeding with – social media across a comprehensive range of industries.
Starting here, let us walk you through the results in a blog series we believe will give you the objective data and analysis to help you confidently move your marketing team into the future of social media marketing.
The key findings
TikTok is the newest, and most powerful, kid on the block
What we found: At just six years old, TikTok is easily the youngest of the major channels B2C companies use for marketing. Facebook (started in 2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), and Instagram (2010) are all well over a decade old at this point, giving them and the brands that use them plenty of time to figure out how they’re going to fit into an overall strategy. TikTok, though, has taken the marketing world by storm, leading all channels except for Facebook in median profile followers.
While the median Emplifi client has close to three times as many followers on Facebook as on any other social media channel, TikTok was the only other channel to edge past the 40,000-follower mark. Given TikTok’s relative youth, that’s a remarkable amount of growth in a short time, suggesting there’s a ton of runway out in front of them as they gain visibility and market share, especially in the U.S. That’s further backed up when you look at sites like Statista, which projects the number of global TikTok users to grow by over 25% in the next three years.
And, while TikTok’s business profile growth is impressive, when you look at their interaction numbers, it’s easy to see what’s drawing marketing teams' attention. When it comes to interactions, TikTok eclipses every other channel with roughly 225 median post interactions and over 50,000 profile interactions per 90 days. That’s almost 2.5 times as many post interactions and more than five times as many profile interactions as Instagram.
What’s driving this: By this time, it’s no secret that TikTok is growing at an explosive pace – almost unbelievable, even to experts. Google "TikTok growth," and your results will light up with astonished accounts of user expansion outpacing the peak rates any other channel once enjoyed. But what’s behind this amazing growth? We believe a few factors are at play.
Ease of use: When you download the app, you can go straight to the content. No annoying forms to fill out. Very few requirements at all. And if you decide to start sharing your own content, they make it simple to create and edit videos, then add music clips to add a level of engagement. The barriers to entry are basically zero. Also, the videos you can create are just fun. Even if they’re not concerned about getting a ton of views, they like the audio options and features. They’re short, shareable, and engaging.
See videos you like: The way the TikTok algorithm works allows users to keep seeing more and more of the content they enjoy and engage with, giving them an incentive to actively interact with the content they find entertaining. Just by using the TikTok app, you’re constantly teaching it what you want to see, creating a positive feedback loop: See content you like. Engage with said content. See more of that content.
It sucks you in: When you open TikTok, you can immediately see the difference from other social media mobile apps: the video is everything. It takes up your entire screen, stretching from edge to edge all over the phone. This gives it an immersive, almost addictive feel that helps users to block out everything except TikTok. Sometimes for hours at a time. In fact, users spend an average of an incredible 95 minutes per day on the app.
Short video rules
What we found: As discussed above, when it comes to user interaction and engagement, TikTok comes out on top by a wide margin. But in second place for both is Instagram, followed by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, in that order. What does that suggest? If you’re looking to engage with your audience on social media, short-form videos, and other content users can view and swipe past quickly, is your best bet.
There’s a reason Instagram is putting increasing emphasis on Reels: the engagement level is consistently outpacing traditional content on the channel. Add in the incredible growth of TikTok, and it’s becoming clear that users are demanding bite-sized video content they can consume, create, and share quickly and easily. Brands that deliver that to them are seeing success. YouTube sees this too, as they’ve started promoting YouTube Shorts to shift a bit away from the longer, more production-heavy videos they’re known for.
What’s driving this: It’s been well established for some time that users engage with video more than text, but it’s starting to be more understood that shorter videos draw more engagement than longer ones. And the numbers track almost perfectly: the longer the video, the less engagement it tends to get. Here’s what we think is happening here:
Repetitive consumption: It may sound obvious, but the shorter the video, the more likely it is that a user will view it more than once. Maybe more than twice. And that not only adds to engagement levels but gives more time for the user to like, comment, or maybe re-share it themselves. With longer videos, the chances increase that they’ll keep scrolling before ever taking the time to look at it.
8 seconds: The “8-second rule” for marketing videos has been around longer than TikTok has existed, so this is nothing new. But think about what it means for short-form video if users are likely to disengage after 8 seconds: if you’re getting straight to your point that quickly, it sets a tone for moving at a fast pace. The videos that get the most views, Likes, comments, and shares aren’t messing around. They’re throwing you right into the action. TikTok and Instagram are the best positioned to take advantage of this.
Urgency and humanity: It’s hard to measure, but the short video of TikTok and Instagram Reels may create a sense of urgency and humanity that the more polished videos on YouTube don’t necessarily create. These shorter videos are more likely to feature a person, filming while holding their phone, looking directly at the camera. Few fancy graphics. No expensive microphones or perfect lighting. That combined with the quick-scrolling nature of the apps, as opposed to the “Let’s settle in and learn something” nature of YouTube, could help to foster more desire to watch and engage.
Brands are far quicker to respond on Twitter than on Facebook
What we found: Increasingly in recent years, customers have frequently turned to social media as their preferred channel of communication when it comes to complaints and questions for the brands they do business with. Brands have responded in a number of ways, and what we found is that they’re putting far more effort into Twitter than they are Facebook, with a median response time of about an hour on Twitter vs. well over 5 hours on Facebook.
Customers expect more, and there’s even some reason to think these numbers should flip for many brands, given the relative user base and frequency of complaint posts on the two channels. Many top brands, though, continue to focus their social media customer service efforts on Twitter, and the response times are reflecting that trend.
What’s driving this: A more than 5x difference is striking when it comes to brand response times, especially when 52% of consumers expect to receive a response to their questions within an hour. Why are brands able to respond so much faster on Twitter than they do on Facebook? We have some thoughts.
Channel norms: Generally speaking, consumers don’t see your brand’s various social, online, and offline channels as separate entities. It’s all an extension of your brand. However, at least some of this difference in response times may reflect the norms of the channels themselves. Twitter is, by its nature, a faster-moving and more responsive channel than Facebook. It’s inherently conversational and swift, while Facebook lends itself more to dropping in and posting rather than closely monitoring comments.
Dedicated customer service accounts: It’s not unusual at all these days to find major brands that have separate Twitter accounts from their main account, dedicated solely to dealing with customer questions and complaints. On one hand, this can raise the expectations for response time. On the other hand, it reduces noise: when the account is mentioned, representatives can be fairly sure the tweet needs to be addressed, and the brand can have staff monitoring it at all times. Meanwhile, it’s highly unusual for brands to have separate Facebook accounts for customer service, so complaints come through via comments under unrelated posts or ads, detaching them from the service workflow.
Brands can’t hide on Twitter: When someone tweets a complaint and tags a brand account, all their followers can see it, and there’s nothing the brand can do about it except respond and try to address it. On Facebook, commented complaints only get seen by someone scrolling through those comments – and that’s if the brand doesn’t hide them, which they can – and a person might complain on their own profile, limiting the audience to their friends and family. This could motivate brands to clear Twitter complaints faster, if only because they’re more visible to a wider audience.
How does your brand compare? Introducing the Emplifi CX Index
Those are some of the highlights from the Emplifi CX Index, which gives a comprehensive snapshot of how more than 1,000 enterprises are performing across a wide range of social media benchmarks.
Now that you've gotten a taste of how powerful Emplifi's analytical insights can be, it's time to take the next step – let's examine your own performance across various social media channels.
Try the Emplifi CX Index for yourself to get a personalized report that gives you a view of how your brand stacks up when it comes to social media marketing and delivering quality social customer care, and helps you better understand both your brand's strengths and opportunities for growth. Using Emplifi's extensive dataset, this report will be ready to share with your broader team so you can prioritize and plan your social media marketing strategy with confidence, and make sure you're not just keeping up with the competition, but beating it, too.