Facebook Engagement

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01
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Part
01

Facebook Engagement Rates

Hello! Thanks for your question about Facebook engagement rates. The short version is that average engagement rates for 2015 were 5.98%, 4.80% in 2016, and 4.32% in 2017. This shows that Facebook engagement rates are decreasing. Facebook engagement rates are decreasing. Reasons for this include updates in Facebook algorithms (news feed, deleting bots and unused accounts), advertisement costs and competition, and less original content. You will find a deep dive of my findings regarding the reasons for Facebook engagement rate decline below, and a detailed list of engagement numbers in the attached spreadsheet.

METHODOLOGY

I can’t find any hard numbers for the United States or online retailers, so we had to use global data. Finding data from last year was also a big challenge. We have found exact numbers for Facebook brand engagement rates from May 2015 to January 2017, which can be found in the spreadsheet. These numbers from Locowise. Hundreds of leading social agencies, big and small, use Locowise every day. Therefore, their reports should be very accurate. They have many big clients (for example, TomTom). But we should assume that this is global data for brands. I have calculated some general rate changes (year by year). There was a -20% from 2015 to 2016 and a -10% from 2016 to 2017. Therefore, it has decreased by 28% when we compare 2015 to 2017 (2015 5.98% -> 2016 4.80% -> 2017 4.32%). I found month by month statistics for 2015 and 2016 Facebook engagement rates, which were added to the spreadsheet.

Reasons for engagement rate decline

According to January 2017 statistics, Facebook continues to be a challenging platform for companies looking for more engagement. Engagement rate was at 4.32 percent of the audience reached, which is the lowest since 2015. Video has the highest organic reach at 12.49 percent. Photos came in second at 10.18%, then links 7.21 percent, and status updates at 5.33 percent.

One of the biggest impact is costs. Advertising on Facebook is becoming more expensive as audience reach becomes increasingly more difficult. The share of posts promoted by Index brands on Facebook came in around 16 percent in 2016, and average interaction of each post that was promoted decreased 19 percent. Although the proportion of promoted Facebook posts remained the same among all Index brands, CPG and Luxury brands increased their Facebook post promotion significantly. Promoted posts now account for around 1/5 of all Facebook posts among CPG and Luxury brands.

Facebook's VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland, found that a reason for organic decline in audience reach is because Facebook is too saturated with content, which makes being on people's News Feed increasingly competitive. Second, Facebook is designed to display content that is most relevant to the user, as opposed to showing all the available content. In 2016, Facebook adjusted its News Feed algorithm to make it even more difficult to view new content by prioritizing content posted by friends and family over random pages. In the blog post announcing the algorithm change, Facebook Engineering Director Lars Backstrom warned that pages could see a decline in organic reach, predicating it would be lower than 2% estimate in some cases.

Another reason for decline that is noted by experts is the large decrease in original content posted by users. In 2016, there was 29.49% decline in original content. This shows that users are engaging less on Facebook than they were in 2015, which also showed a 15.14% drop in engagements per post. In 2016, Facebook saw a 7.87% decrease in Likes per post, 37.47% less comments per post, and 27.8% decrease in shares per post.

CONCLUSION

To wrap it up, I couldn't find any hard numbers for the United States or online retailers, so we had to use global data. However, I found that the average engagement rates for 2015 were 5.98%, 4.80% in 2016, and 4.32% in 2017. The reasons for this include updates in Facebook algorithms, advertisement costs and competition, and less original content.

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Part
02
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Part
02

Facebook Engagement Rates - Users Ages 17-24

Hello! Thank you for your Wonder request on the Facebook engagement rates of users that are between the ages of 17-24. The short answer is the average Facebook engagement for 17-24 year-olds specifically could not be found; however, the average engagement rate for online retailers is between 0.8% and 1.05%, depending on the source, and 2.5% for online and offline retailers combined. This report will include the brand engagement rate of specific retailers and an explanation of why the engagement rates may be low on Facebook for this age group. Below, you will find a deep dive of my findings.

OVERALL BRAND ENGAGEMENT RATES
In a study conducted from January 1st, 2015 to December 31st, 2016, a sample of 18,538 posts across 30 brand pages in multiple industries was taken to discover the overall brand engagement on Facebook in general. According to Ignite Social Media, in December 2013, on average only 1% of brand content was reaching fans. However, in recent months, engagement began to pick up and reached a 3.5% peak in August 2016. Rates have stabilized to an average November and December engagement of 2.5%. It was not possible from my research to tell if engagement among the 17-24 year-old age group differs from the 2.5% all-ages engagement noted above.

ENGAGEMENT RATES OF ONLINE RETAILERS
According to The 2016 Social Media Impact Report, the average engagement rate for online retailers on Facebook is about 0.8%. However, using birdanalytics, online retailers' average engagement rate is 1.05%. By adding the 2016 Social Media Impact Report's 0.8% and Bird Analytics' 1.05%, then dividing by 2, we get an average engagement of 0.92%. According to Facebook Engagement Matrix, 0.5%-0.99% is the engagement average. Some examples of Facebook engagement rates for online retailers are Target, which is 1.27%, Macy's, which is 0.54%, Staples, which is 1.38%, and AT&T, which is 1.02%. It was quite difficult to find a direct statistic for the number of users between the ages of 17-24 on Facebook. However, according to Social Media Fact Sheet, in 2016, 88% of users aged 18-29 years are using Facebook. There were 31.2 million Americans aged 18-24 years in 2015, the closest range I could find, and we can multiply that 31.2 million by the percentage of users aged 18-29 (88%), and get a rough calculation of 27.46 million Facebook users in the 18-24 age range.

EXPLANATION FOR ENGAGEMENT RATES
The major reason that college students might have little engagement with Facebook may be due to their love for Snapchat and Instagram. According to a 2017 survey, which asked which social media alerts users checked first, 58% percent chose Snapchat first, 27% chose Instagram, with Facebook at 13% and LinkedIn at only 2%. Therefore, due to so much competition from other social medias within this age group, and the relative lack of interest in the platform, it may be difficult to reach a wide range of college students on Facebook.

CONCLUSION
To wrap it up, roughly 27.46 million people of college age use Facebook in the US. I was unable to find engagement rates specifically for that age group, but I calculated, as explained above, that the all-ages average engagement is 0.92% for online retailers and 2.5% for brands in general.

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Part
03
of three
Part
03

Facebook Algorithms and Branded Content

Hello! Thank you for your question regarding changes to Facebook's algorithm over the past year, particularly those which directly impact branded content. The short answer is that Facebook has not made any algorithmic changes directed at brands between September 2016 and today. However, several changes have been made which can impact brands. You will see a deep dive of my findings below.

METHODOLOGY
For this report, I began by looking directly at Facebook's messaging, via press releases as well as their media site. In addition, I relied on marketing-focused websites which discussed any changes to Facebook's algorithm and how it would impact brands and customer engagement.

Because Facebook has not introduced any changes within the past 12 months which directly impact brands, I have excluded the section regarding why Facebook has made these changes to their algorithm. Instead, you will see two sections below: one which focuses on your primary question, and the second which focuses on other algorithmic changes — whether outside of the requested time period, or which aren't specific to brands — that may impact marketing efforts.

OVERVIEW
As referenced above, Facebook has not made any changes to their algorithm within the past 12 months which are directed at branded content. That said, the company has made other changes outside of their algorithm which impact how, when, and where companies can share branded content.

Specifically, as of March 2017, Facebook updated their branded content policy in three ways: first, to allow pages to share branded content; second, to "update the branded content tag;" and finally, "simplifying our policy and enforcement guidelines." While these were not algorithmic changes, they do impact the way that brands are able to reach out and interact with potential customers on the platform. According to the report, Facebook made these changes as a direct result of feedback they'd received since their last policy update in 2016.

OTHER RELEVANT CHANGES
While no brand-specific changes have been made to Facebook's algorithm in the past year, the company has rolled out several other changes, many of which could potentially change the way brands interact with customers. Additionally, the company rolled out a couple of brand-specific algorithm changes just over a year ago, in June and July of 2016.

Regarding the former, the company has issued two algorithmic changes in 2017 which are not directed at brands, but which will impact how they interact with customers on the platform. First, in January of 2017 Facebook rolled out a change to their algorithm which prioritizes videos. Specifically, users are shown those videos which correlate with ones they've watched all or most of the way through in the past. Additionally, in March of 2017 the platform altered their algorithm to weigh "reactions" more heavily than "likes." This means that if a user reacts with "anger," or "love" to a post, it's considered more important than someone who simply "likes" the post. While neither of these changes are directed at brands specifically, they're both likely to impact how brands interact with potential customers on Facebook. Ultimately, these changes were implemented in order to increase user engagement. Over the past several years, Facebook has seen a steep decline in number of users, as well as in how often those users interact with one another on Facebook.

With regard to changes rolled out more than a year ago, the platform made algorithmic changes regarding which posts are shown to website users. Specifically, these changes are intended to send fewer users to content websites. The platform now prioritizes those posts, videos, and photos shared by users' friends and families, as opposed to articles shared from content websites.

SUMMARY
To summarize, while Facebook has not made any changes to their algorithm which directly impact brands in the past year, several of the changes they have implemented can impact brand messaging on the platform.

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