One of the best parts about being a Community Manager is that I get to feature fantastic users to the rest of the community. That’s right. I’m the dude behind that Suggested User List you so badly want to be on. But I promise you that after you’re on the list for a while, you’ll ask me this: “Yesterday, I hit 100k followers and I was wondering… If I have so many followers, why am I getting only an average of 100 likes with 100k+ views?” Good. Question. Thankfully, there’s a really rational answer to this that doesn’t involve me telling you that your content simply isn’t inspiring enough people — try harder.
In 2011, I began writing on Google+. I had finished my business degree and was finishing up my film degree, all the while bombing interviews for jobs I wouldn’t love anyways. Google+ was my escape and, as it turned out, I wasn’t half bad at blogging. Google decided that I worthy of being featured and, over the next year or so, I achieved a following of 1.2million while on the Suggested User List.
What that means is that new users would follow me (intentionally or unintentionally) as part of their onboarding. My content would also be seen by people when they just checking things out, increasing the number of views on my content.
So, let’s crunch the numbers
For the sake of this experiment, let’s say I had 700k followers instead of my 1.2million peak. I’ve posed 2,913 times and have received 98,134 comments, 288,924 likes, and 68,204 reshares total. That means that I’ve averaged 33 comments, 99 likes, and 23 reshares per post.
Put another way, I was only getting 0.014% of my followers to like my posts on average.
My best post ever had 4,520 likes because it went viral, which would mean that, at my most engaging, I only got 0.6% of my followers to like my content.
I’ve had 52million views on my content. With 288,924 likes across every post, that means 99.5% of people who saw my content didn’t interact with it at all. And that’s the most optimistic approach. The truth is that the percent of people who didn’t engage with me is actually much higher because I know that several people liked more than one of my posts.
The most famous celebrity in the world, Kim Kardashian (love her or hate her), has 43.5million followers on Instagram, but can “only” get 996k likes on a photo of her kissing Kanye — an engagement rate of 2.2%. This is an incredible engagement rate for that number of followers. For instance, Facebook Pages with an engagement rate over 1% is good and 0.5% to 0.9% is average. Once a Facebook Page reaches over 100k followers, the average engagement rate falls to 0.09%. (source)
What it all means
So, my numbers would look pretty bad for a normal person or brand who targeted the right people to follow them, but you can’t put the same expectations on yourself after being featured as you would before you’re featured. When you’re featured, new users who are just checking out the platform will follow you, but may not stay engaged in the network. It’s (obviously) the goal of any company to retain as many signups as users, but the fact is that most leave no matter what your product is. We’ve all done this. I do this all the time. You still have the followers, but those people may not be checking out the site anymore.
Additionally, your content is shown to users without them being logged in, increasing view count significantly and hurting the ratio of views to engagement. To interact with your content, people need to sign in, but tons of people check our Featured Users before joining to, well, see if they want to join. Getting more of these people to sign up is a priority for any team (mine included), but remember that views are powerful too, especially as you grow into marketing yourself.
Featured users see engagement go up, but without a great ratio of engagers compared to followers. It’s totally normal — and gives you pretty awesome numbers to leverage with. Just understand that, with so many followers who add you when joining the network, you can’t expect the same ratios of engagement you had with only 1,000 highly-devoted followers. That’s not a bad thing!
Good numbers are good numbers are good numbers.