Admit it. We’ve all been there. You have a great picture and come up with the perfect caption to match. You just know that once you post it to social media the likes will come rolling in. You hit post and then – nothing. A few likes trickle in from your closest friends and followers, but not the overwhelming response you expected. You wait a while longer and the response doesn’t grow. It seems that no one is seeing your perfect post. What’s going on?

Understanding how social media platforms operate will answer your question.

History Lesson: When social networks initially began to monetize themselves, they sold advertisers on the number of users they’d amassed. As usage grew, so did the number of inactive profiles. User numbers became an obsolete metric, so platforms turned to engagement as a way to show potential advertiser reach.

Algorithms rule the social network world. While you may think that every friend/follower of yours sees your post, the truth is the post initially appears in about 6% of your followers’ timelines. If they are engaged by liking, commenting, or sharing, then that percentage will grow. If there is little to no engagement, your post effectively dies. One would have to go directly to your page to see it.

The goal of social networks is to keep your eyes on them as long as possible. Their way of doing this is to make sure that your timeline is filled with content with which you will engage. Ever notice that you see the same people’s posts over and over? This explains why. If you stop engaging with those people, the social network will theoretically cycle new ones into your timeline based on what you do engage with. 

Apply this principle when promoting your business or organization. Make sure all of your content is engaging. It’s great that you have built a large following, but if they’re not all seeing what you post, it doesn’t matter. “Like, share, and comment on this post to win _____” is a popular tactic that you’ve probably seen businesses use. The point is not giveaway entries, but growth of organic reach by generating engagement. When posting to social media, engage your audience in order to be seen. 

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