Community managers often ask me about two things:

  • How often should a company post in social media?
  • How does one maximise engagement?

The common answers are “often” and “create better content“. While I agree to some extent, neither of those are helpful advice. Instead, I usually recommend the community manager to learn a specific (and very simple) skill — riding the wave of engagement

Setting the Engagement Bar

The first thing to do is to take a look at your social media eco-system. What channels are you prioritising? How many followers do you have? How engaged are those followers? How fast are you growing? (Any good community manager will know the answers to these questions already.)

Then, you will just have to set a bar (rather than a target) of how many social media engagements you should be able to attract — without being unreasonable given the brand’s current situation. 

For Facebook social media updates, you could for instance set the bar at 15 likes, 5 comments, and 1 share per update. (However, you could just as well set a bar for post reach or some other metric; whatever best suits your brand.) Personally, I prefer not to distinguish too harshly between the different types of engagement; in the example of Facebook given above, the bar would then be set to 21 reactions (15 likes + 5 comments + 1 share).

I abbreviate this number EB (engagement bar) and in the content calendar where you plan your updates, i simply add a column for my chosen EB numbers per channel.

Clearing the Engagement Bar

Now, let’s post your next update to Facebook and, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that the update gets 7 likes, 2 comments, and no shares — an EB total of 9 which has a bit to go in reaching 21. However, since we’re talking about quite low levels of engagement from the start, getting an additional 12 engagements shouldn’t be an impossible mission.

Now, it’s time to hustle:

  • Maybe you can ask colleagues or friends in your industry to interact with your post?
  • Maybe you can use your company email list to drive clicks to your update?
  • Maybe you can sponsor the boost to increase its reach and thereby increase the EB number?

And so on.

The important thing is that you make sure to reach your engagement bar (in this case 21 reactions for a status update on Facebook) before you’re “allowed” to post again.

Raising the Engagement Bar

Once you reach your chosen number of interactions, you publish your next social media post and start over.

if your “next post” is tied to a certain date or time and can’t be published immediately, then you should have another post ready to go. If you have a post set for a specific date and you haven’t yet reached your engagement bar, then start promoting the previous content sooner next time.

When it becomes too “easy” to hit your engagement bar, you set it higher.

In this way you’re creating a flow tunnel for your social media engagement by hitting the bar and raising it continuously.

Based on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow.

Outreach or Pay-to-Play?

A common question is if it isn’t just to boost each and every post to reach the set engagement bar? And yes, that’s a fair assumption. However, if you can afford it, you haven’t set your engagement bar high enough. There’s also the question about how much you have to pay; if your content is relevant and your organic engagement is growing healthily, then your paid reach will become quite significantly cheaper.

My advice would be: Do both. Do your outreach and combine it with programmatic advertising to maximise the effect.

Riding the Engagement Wave

This approach to social media publishing and community management have several advantages:

  • Your brand will move away from schedule-publishing and instead move into cue-publishing.
  • The number of times you publish in a certain social channel will be determined by your engagement — not your corporate calendar.
  • Your publishing strategy will be executed in tandem with how social network algorithms actually works.
  • Your brand will get the social growth and reach your content actually deserves which is in line with the follower contract.
  • By controlling the engagement bar number, you’re optimising effort, quality vs. quantity, and growth rate in a synchronised manner.
  • Social account visitors will see consistent engagement which is to be preferred; they’re less likely to evaluate post frequency.
Your social media schedule is probably wrong.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash.