In a country where mobile data is extremely expensive, social media marketers are constantly walking a tightrope between posting content rich posts with either pictures and videos to make it more appealing, and making posts that will be seen by the majority number of users without them skipping passed the post, due to data constraints.

So, why are we seeing less engagement on content heavy posts?

This could be because of a few factors. Firstly, touching on the data sensitivity of the South African market, research has shown that a vast majority of social media users make use of Facebook free, which already limits the amount of content one can get through to the users. Photos and videos do not get loaded on this free version of Facebook, which often translates into a limited amount of reach. Added to that, if the body copy does not explain what is being showcased on the image or video, the user will just scroll passed the post without taking notice.

While some digital marketing practitioners have picked up on this trend, many make the simple mistake of overloading their body copy with information, which can also have a negative impact on reach.

Social media users do not like reading a lot. This is why Twitter has done so well, and why apps, such as Instagram, where it’s more about the photo and less about the caption, are continuing to grow in popularity. Your average social media user prefers information to be concise and to the point. While social networks like Facebook and Instagram don’t want to be seen as limiting their users who wish to raise a point, they understand that the visual of long posts would decrease user activity, and as such cut off these wordy posts with an ellipsis, forcing users to click “See More” to expand and read the entire message. This extra step may not seem like much, but it has proven to drive down engagement and reach.

Whenever one asks a page’s audience to take action, a percentage of people who like that page will lose interest. Making someone click “See More” may not be asking them to comment, but to many social media users, it is still an action, and thus, they will not read your full post. Tie this in with a post that has a picture or video, which has to load, and you are bound to lose even more reach and engagement.

In 2016, BuzzSumo analyzed more than 800 million Facebook posts. They found that posts with less than 50 characters “were more engaging than long posts.”

According to another, more precise study by the internationally acclaimed digital marketer, Jeff Bullas, Facebook posts with 80 characters or less receive 66% higher engagement.

This is where social media marketers must find the perfect balance: offering consumers enough information on a post to properly inform them, without them having to load a picture, in enough characters that they do not scroll passed it.

It is important to note, that every market differs, and so, key to all of this, is knowing your market. If your market lives has unlimited access to data, and doesn’t mind reading, make sure your social media strategy aligns with that. But, if your market is data sensitive, make sure you’re aware of it and that you action it in your strategy.

For more information on The Blue Room’s social media management and other digital offerings; or to find out about the informal research surveys that we can do into your market, call us on 021 553 0315. Alternatively, email us:

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Written by Juben Matthee, Digital Marketer: The Blue Room