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The Most Winnable Social Network

Written By: Margit Streifeneder in Strategies for Business Growth | September 1, 2017

The Most Winnable Social Network

The standard social network advice is to “go where your audience is.” For most, that means Facebook…

That sounds like good advice. After all, “everyone” is on Facebook.

Social Networks By Number Of Users

The catch?  It’s hard to reach enough folks from “everyone” to build a following. And then it’s just as hard to reach a decent percentage of those folks. For every 100 people who follow you on Facebook, only 6 will see your content in their feed…

And it’s getting harder…

Since Facebook announced that it will start giving higher priority to content from friends and family over brands, that “6%” has probably dropped further.  

Facebook Organic Reach

“It’s all in the name of a better experience,” they claim.

Um, no…

It’s about forcing solopreneurs to advertise to reach those they’ve converted into followers.

Unfair.

After all, if someone engages with your Facebook page more than they do with a friend’s, shouldn’t your posts be rewarded with greater priority?

So, are we saying not to use Facebook?

Nope. Just don’t let its ginormous number of users be a huge factor in your decision-making. Once a network has passed the 100,000,000 mark, what matters most are…

  1. network relevance/fit with your target audience, and
  2. can you actually grow a following and then reach them?

We’ll talk about relevance/fit in a future blog post. Today, let’s think about WINNABILITY.  The must-ask question…

Which network enables me to win the largest and most engaged following?

Think of social media as a game – several games, actually.  Each game (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) has a set of rules that makes it different.

That difference determines two key points…

1) The nature of its users. To oversimplify…

  • Facebook = general
  • Pinterest = visual, discovery
  • Twitter = news/insight-oriented
  • Instagram = visual, “cool” (younger)

2) Winnability.  Understanding the user is key to winnability. Few understand this simple-yet-important point: The game with the best rules for you gives you the best chance to win. You need to know the…

  1. Nature of users
  2. Nature of marketers
  3. Influencer marketing friendliness (how easy it is to reach out and build relationships)

Instagram’s Hashtag Rule

Instagram is much more winnable than any other major social medium. And it’s all due to its hashtag rules.

Hashtags are to (most) social media what keywords are to search engines.  They are how people discover you.

What’s so special about Instagram’s hashtag rule?…

  1. They actually do get found and bring targeted people to your account!
  2. You may use up to 30. If you know how, you can cast a BIG, targeted net, one that catches tuna but not dolphins (just don’t include “#dolphins” in your set of 30).
Note: In August, 2017, Pinterest has changed its stance on and treatment of hashtags. Details and best practices are still vague at this time, but could factor into your “most winnable network” decision in the future.

How to Perform Better Than 95% of Instagramers

Don’t let the size of a social network sway you. Once a network has passed the 100 million mark, it’s more important to think about…

  1. Relevance.  Is your target audience there?
  2. Winnability.  Can you actually grow a following and reach folks every time you post?

So what’s the most winnable social network (currently)? Instagram, because of hashtags.

Hashtags are how people discover you. On Instagram you can use up to 30 of them, allowing you to cast a great BIG targeted net, as mentioned above.

How to Win With Hashtags

  • Use the 30 hashtags allowed. You’ll see advice to the contrary (“it’s cool to use fewer”). Ignore it.
  • Use words that people would use as search terms. High counts may only indicate popularity among content creators. To improve your hashtag selection (and your results!) think about what keywords the searcher would use.
  • Avoid hashtags with too-low or too-high counts. Ever notice “TOP RESULTS” after a search at Instagram? People click on them! You want to be there!  It’s tough to rank for high counts, though. And ranking for low counts is pointless. No one is searching!

How Do You Find the Right Range For You?

Great question. Here’s a slick technique…

Examine your last 10 posts.  Add up…

  • the number of likes
  • 3x the number of comments (Why 3x? Because comments are a higher form of engagement than likes, so you want to weigh them more heavily.)

Now divide by 10 to get your “average Instagram engagement.”

Next, search for some hashtags that you think are relevant to your post. Look at the “Top Posts.” What engagement numbers (likes plus comments) do those top posts have? Do most of them have numbers within 25% (plus or minus) of your “average Instagram engagement”? You have a winner.

So, if your “average Instagram engagement” is 200, for example, you want to find hashtags where the top posts have engagement numbers between 150 and 250.

An example?  Sure. Have a beeeeautiful pic of Southbank, London?

Which hashtag are you going to use for this pic?

Is Instagram for Everyone?

Depends on your niche.

Instagram is winnable. But if your audience ain’t there, there’s nothing to win.

How can you tell who’s there?

Got a visual niche?  You really should be on Instagram.

Not visual? Search Instagram for some of your most common keywords – your competitors may have figured out a way to make the “unvisual” visual.  You’d be surprised at what a little creativity can do!

No niche competitors? You may be better off at Facebook, Pinterest and/or Twitter!

Bottom Line Takeaways?

When choosing which social network(s) to use, ask two questions…

  1. Is the social network right for your niche audience? No point being there if your audience isn’t!
  2. How easy is it to build and reach an ENGAGED FOLLOWING? This determines how valuable a social media channel will become for your business.

Also, remember that hashtags are how people discover you (like keywords in search).  Instagram’s hashtag rule makes it the most winnable social network, so long as you…

  1. use the full 30 hashtags allowed
  2. use hashtags that people actually search for
  3. choose “Goldilocks” hashtags (neither too high nor too low).

Assuming your audience uses Instagram, the “rules of the game” make it easy to win!

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Margit Streifeneder
Margit Streifeneder is the Communications Manager at SiteSell. She handles the Editorial Calendar, coordinates marketing initiatives and is renowned for her organisational skills. She's passionate about helping solopreneurs achieve success, and enjoys interviewing SBI! members about their achievements. Her personal goal is "never being cold again," so she chose to settle in Nicaragua, for now.
Margit Streifeneder

Latest posts by Margit Streifeneder (see all)

  • Very interesting Margit, mine is a visual niche but always thought Instagram was too ‘young’ even though I have noticed fairly good engagement whenever I post (but that’s where it stops). I’m going to have another look after reading this, thanks 🙂

    • Margit Streifeneder

      Thanks Adele. For anything “crafty,” Instagram should work well. It’s more difficult though to get people over to you store or site – as there are no clickable links in Instagram posts, only in the bio.

    • How Do You Find the Right Range For You?

  • Kristen Walker

    Great article. I have been playing around with Instagram because Facebook was feeling a bit pointless (or like I was going to have to shell out money every time to get my posts seen. I found a neat tool to help generate the hashtags for Instagram. I fine tune the results but it’s pretty useful. https://displaypurposes.com

  • David Lockett

    Margit, I am aware of a new social networking system that is being released, and which is nothing like Facebook. It is being developed by people who have a long history of creating successful social networking applications, and it may have potential benefits for SiteSell members.
    It would not be appropriate for me to talk about it in detail on this page, but if you would like to learn more, you are welcome to drop me a message through my SiteSell affiliate account email address and I will be more than happy to share details with you.
    Kind Regards David Lockett

  • Lorelie Carvey

    Perfect timing. Thank you Margit. And thanks Kristen for that link. It will be very helpful.

    • Margit Streifeneder

      Good to hear that this article came at just the right time for you, Lorelie. And thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    • yes.

  • Thanks for posting this @meercat007:disqus I wish you had this article available as a PDF file.

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