Over the past few years, social media has changed how consumers interact with brands and how brands reach consumers. Social media is widespread – pervading our daily lives – and offering marketers valuable data that removes the guesswork in developing strategy.
The question is no longer "does my brand need a social strategy?" but "how do I improve my social strategy?". At the end of the day, brands need to find social-centric ways to reach and retain an audience with authenticity and empathy. And the best place to start is with the data.
Here at Emplifi, we have the luxury of tapping into our own platform to pull social media data that sheds light on how brands are implementing social and what strategies are working best. Each quarter we release our findings to help our customers, and curious marketers, develop a social strategy based on actual data.
Our Q1 2022 findings encompass a variety of social media marketing efforts, with critical insights in three key areas: paid social, social media engagement, and social customer care.
Note: The analysis below uses the following acronyms for brevity:
QoQ: Quarter-over-quarter (Q2 2022 vs. Q1 2022)
YoY: Year-over-year (Q2 2022 vs. Q2 2021)
Some key takeaways from Q2 2022:
Median monthly social media ad spend was $4,261 in Q2 2022, an 18% rebound after seeing a notable drop after the holiday season in Q1 2022. This represents a 19% increase YoY ($3,568 in Q2 2021).
Click-Through-Rates (CTR) for paid social media ads was 0.93% in Q2 2022, continuing a steady decrease seen in previous quarters. Cost-per-click (CPC), on the other hand, has only seen minor fluctuations throughout the past year, hitting $0.20 in Q2 2022.
Median Facebook post interactions (likes, comments, shares) per 1K impressions was 5.2, representing a 15% drop YoY. On the other hand, median Instagram post interactions remained relatively stable over the past year, reaching 32.4 in Q2 2022, a near-identical level YoY.
Emplifi data suggests that while TikTok continues to surge as the world's hottest app, brands continue to post more often on Instagram than on TikTok, despite the latter seeing relatively higher engagement rates. However, a marketing mix that includes both social media platforms clearly remains essential for brands to connect with their audiences (and discover new ones, too).
While brands' average response rate to user questions on Facebook has trended downward over the past year, their median response time has improved.
Facebook engagement rates (median post interactions per 1K impressions)
Instagram engagement rates (median post interactions per 1K impressions)
The current state of paid social media
Implementing a paid social media strategy is a bit intimidating to many marketers. Whether it's boosting a post, featuring an ad, prompting likes, or messaging a group of people, most brands use paid social media.
Paid social is great for acquiring new followers, building brand awareness, driving traffic, and even bringing in sales. A data-driven approach to paid social will most likely produce tremendous results for savvy brands.
Comparing it to other digital marketing strategies like email or SEO, paid social media is just like other forms of marketing where free options can only take a brand so far. Injecting even a small budget into social media marketing can yield instant outcomes.
Organic posts are valuable for the brand's existing audience, but to reach new audiences, paid social is the way to go.
The most valuable data for understanding the state of paid social media is found by analyzing ad spend, Click-Through-Rates (CTR), and Cost-Per-Click (CPC).
Global ad spend
After seeing a notable post-holidays drop in Q1 2021, global monthly ad spend among brands rebounded in Q2 2022 by 16%, climbing back above $4,200 and closer to the year-high level seen in Q4 2021.
With this quarter's rebound, median monthly ad spend increased 19% YoY, suggesting that brands are allocating more budget to reach their target audiences via paid social media ads.
Emplifi data shows that median monthly CTR has decreased steadily over time, dipping below the 1% mark in Q1 2022. This quarter tells a similar story, with CTR lowering to 0.93%, signaling an 11% drop YoY.
Despite this decrease, engagement remains relatively stable when consumers interact with paid social posts, and businesses can continue to depend on social media advertising to return value. The resilience of social media advertising, combined with the effectiveness of the app algorithms to find the right people to engage with your content, leads to positive advertising ROI.
Median Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
While CTR has steadily decreased, Emplifi data shows that CPC is remaining fairly stable despite some fluctuations in recent quarters, including an 11% increase in Q2 2022.
Brands have been realizing and harnessing the power of CPC campaigns on social media, making it a competitive space. With average CPC rebounding this quarter after seeing a drop at the beginning of the year, it will be interesting to see whether this may be a quarterly fluctuation, or the start of an upward trend.
Social media engagement rate
Engagement on social media clues brands in on the most effective posting strategies.
If someone likes, comments on, or shares a brand's social media content, they are socially supporting that content as their followers can see this interaction. All brands want high engagement rates on social media, as this datapoint validates their social media marketing efforts. Doing a deep dive into engagement rates using Emplifi data offers a tangible benchmark for all social media marketing professionals.
Looking at each post and the median amount of interactions per 1,000 impressions is an easy way to evaluate this valuable information. It's also wise to look at – and compare – engagement rates by industry, as some industries do better on social than others.
Facebook engagement rates (median post interactions per 1K impressions)
After seeing a steady decrease since Q2 2021, median Facebook post interactions saw a slight bump QoQ, reaching their highest level since Q3 2021.
However, Q2 2022 levels remain notably lower than Q2 2021, with brands generating approximately 5.2 interactions per 1K impressions, a 15% decrease YoY.
Instagram engagement rates (median post interactions per 1K impressions)
Applying the same lens to Instagram engagement, Emplifi data shows that Instagram posts received about 32 interactions per 1K impressions in Q2 2022. Despite some fluctuations, this figure is on par with what was seen across the past year.
Comparing the number of interactions on the two platforms, Instagram has considerably higher engagement levels than Facebook, making it an attractive place for brands to interact with customers.
Engagement rates by industry
Some industries generate more interactions than others with their social media posts. As such, brands need to look at overall social media data, and how other brands in their industry are doing.
In Q2 2022, the median post interaction per 1K impressions on Facebook was 5.4. When breaking it out by industry, brands in Industrial (9.79) and Accommodation (9.04) notably outperformed other industries. In contrast, Ecommerce (2.80), Retail (3.64), and Fashion (3.90) brands had the lowest engagement rates (2.9) – and fell well below average.
For the same time period on Instagram, interactions per 1K impressions were about 32. When we explore by industry, brands in the Beverages (47.37), Alcohol (46.83), and Software (45.11) sectors saw the highest levels of engagement, while Retail (17.71), Telecom (21.58), and Ecommerce (22.81) brands lagged with the lowest engagement rates.
TikTok is the world's hottest app, with more and more brands jumping aboard and trying to find their voice on TikTok as they seek new ways to connect with their audiences – and discover new ones, too.
Insider Intelligence reports that Gen Zs already use TikTok more than Instagram, as the two video-heavy social media platforms compete for eyeballs. But how are brands leveraging these two platforms, and how much engagement are they seeing from their followers?
In an analysis of sister TikTok and Instagram accounts across 330 brands from January-June 2022, Emplifi data shows that brands post more often on Instagram than on TikTok (68% vs. 32% in relative posting frequency, respectively). Naturally, this gap has resulted in greater total Reach (64% vs. 36%) and Interactions (59% vs. 41%) for brands on their Instagram accounts than on TikTok. However, brands currently see greater engagement rates on their videos on TikTok than on Instagram (58% vs. 42%).
Although, it should be noted that relative engagement rates are showing an upward trend for both TikTok and Instagram – both peaking in June 2022 in our 6-month analysis – suggesting that users' thirst for engaging video content is alive and well.
It will be interesting to track how these findings evolve in the months and years ahead. However, one thing is certain: having and maintaining a solid presence on both TikTok and Instagram is essential today.
Looking to unlock your full potential on TikTok? Check out our TikTok resources.
Social customer care benchmarks
Social customer care is arguably as important as using various platforms for brand awareness. It involves directly interacting with consumers when they reach out to a brand on social media, which is a big part of retaining current customers and earning new ones.
Social media efforts related to customer service are a very recent shift. Gone are the days when consumers interact with brands by phone, email, or even traditional airmail – today's consumers spend their time on social media, and that's where they want brands to meet them.
Consumers have high expectations regarding how responsive brands are on social media. Brands are quickly trying to adapt to these expectations by blending client services with marketing on social media.
To analyze social media care, two key factors to consider are how often brands respond to user questions in the comments (response rate) and how quickly they respond to these questions (response time).
Response rate to user questions in comments
The average response rate when users ask a question on social media is a tangible way to apply data to determine how a brand is doing regarding social media care. For this exercise, we look at comments posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that include a question mark ("?").
Emplifi data shows median response rates among brands to answer questions on Facebook and Instagram decreased slightly in Q2 2022. Although, the average response rate to user questions is more prominent on Facebook, which has seen a steady decrease since Q2 2021, culminating in a 16% decrease YoY.
As for Twitter, median response rates have seen slight fluctuations through the past year, returning to a similar level as last year.
This quarter, across all industries examined, brands had higher response rates to user questions on Instagram than on Facebook or Twitter, with the only exception being the Automotive industry:
When looking at engagement by industry, Beauty, FMCG Food, and Home & Living brands had comparatively higher response rates to user questions on social. In comparison, Automotive brands had lower response rates across all three social media platforms.
Speed to answer user questions in the comments
Today's consumers have high expectations of a brand's social media presence, and response times to their questions can be the difference between solidifying or losing a customer.
As consumers are taking their questions to social media more than ever, Emplifi data shows that brands' response times to these questions can be calculated in hours, despite 52% of consumers expecting to receive a response to their questions within one hour. While brands' response times on Instagram and Twitter saw slight bumps QoQ, their response times on Facebook decreased for the second straight quarter, closing the gap with Instagram.
As for Twitter, while brands have been notably quicker to respond to user questions on this platform than on Facebook and Instagram, their median response times on Twitter have seen a bump of 22% since last year.
Interestingly, when looking at this data by industry, some brands have the slowest response times on Facebook (Alcohol, Beauty, FMCG Food, Home & Living, Service), while for other brands, it's on Instagram (Automotive, Ecommerce, Electronics, Fashion, Retail). However, except for one industry (FMCG Food), Twitter typically sees the fastest response times among the three networks examined.
The Retail, Services, and Ecommerce brands fared better than the other industries examined in Q2 2022 in terms of how quickly they respond to user questions. On the other hand, Beauty and Automotive brands have been the slowest to respond.
What does it all mean?
Takeaway #1: Marketers still view paid social media as a critical cog in their marketing mix, and are willing to pay the extra costs to reach their audiences.
Median ad spend rebounded in Q2 2022 after the expected post-holidays dip seen in Q1, and reached a level that was 19% higher than it was at this time last year. At the same time, brands are still spending more despite decreasing CTR rates. Marketing teams must constantly seek ways to maximize the value of every dollar of ad spend and optimize the time spent creating social media content for their different profiles.
How can brands do this? The foundation of any successful social media campaign is content that truly resonates with your target audiences; content that makes people want to click "Like," share it with friends, or even take the next step in their purchase journey.
Takeaway #2: The need for brands to create, maintain, and elevate their presence on TikTok is stronger than ever. One obvious reason, of course, is that it's the world's hottest app. But more importantly, as Emplifi data suggests, brands may be underutilizing TikTok, despite seeing higher engagement rates relative to another video-centric platform, Instagram.
Takeaway #3: There is a critical need to continually evaluate and improve social customer care processes. Otherwise, there is a potential for brands to lose market share.
People want their questions answered quickly. 52% of consumers expect brands to respond to their questions within one hour. However, Emplifi data suggests that while brands continue to take much more time to respond (if at all), potentially disappointing many users.
Brands can take advantage of automated solutions such as AI chatbots, centralized community management tools, and dedicated social customer care tools to help them respond faster and resolve customer queries more efficiently.
The quarterly data presented in this report reflects the state of Emplifi's database starting with the beginning of the previous quarter through the end of the previous quarter for the post. The data is pulled only once and is not updated between releases.
Median monthly ad spend: Calculated as median monthly ad account spend. Per each account, we look at "total spend value," and from all of these ad accounts in one category, we calculate the median value. All values are in USD. The charts displayed in the report show the average monthly median value for a given quarter.
Median monthly ad CPC: Calculated as median monthly ad account CPC. Per each account, we look at "total spend value/total (all) clicks," and from all of these ad accounts in one category, we calculate the median value. All values are in USD. The charts displayed in the report show the average monthly median value for a given quarter.
Median monthly ad CTR: Calculated as median monthly ad account CTR. Per each account, we look at quarterly "total (all) clicks / total impressions," and from all of these ad accounts in one category, we calculate the median value. All values are in USD. The charts displayed in the report show the average monthly median value for a given quarter.
Interactions / 1,000 impressions: Interactions on Facebook are calculated as a sum of all Reactions, Comments, and Shares on posts published by a Page. Interactions on Instagram are calculated as a sum of Likes and Comments on posts published by a profile. For charts displayed in the report, we calculated "Interaction / 1K impressions" for each post in the sample. Then median post value was calculated for each profile in the sample. In the last step, the median was calculated for the industry.
Response rate to user comment questions is based on English questions (2nd level) placed directly under the admin post (1st level). Answers are considered to be admin comments (3rd level) directly replying to the user comment (2nd level). First, the "answers/questions" ratio was calculated for each post, then the average was calculated for each profile. As the last step, the average is calculated for all profiles in the benchmark (industry).
Response time to user comment questions is based on English questions (2nd level) placed directly under the admin post (1st level). Answers are considered to be admin comments (3rd level) directly replying to the user comment (2nd level). Only answered comments are taken into account. First, the median response time was calculated for each post, then again median was calculated for each profile. As the last step, the median was calculated for all profiles in the benchmark (industry).
Additional terms relating to our TikTok vs. Instagram analysis:
Sister TikTok and Instagram Profiles: Profiles owned by the same Emplifi client on both Instagram and Tiktok that have the same handle (e.g., www.instagram.com/examplecompany and www.tiktok.com/@examplecompany.)
TikTok Engagements: Defined as the sum of Likes, comments, and shares.
Reach Engagement Rate: Defined as the sum of Engagements for a post, divided by total Reach for that post. For more information on the definition of these metrics, check out this resource (note: Socialbakers is now Emplifi).