Last fall we compared the long tail of email opens to the long tail of social media engagement. What surprised us most was that beyond 7 days we saw absolutely nothing on the social media side. No likes. No shares. No comments. That analysis showed the shelf life of a Facebook post is short, but how short? How long does it take before a post or photo has received all the engagement it ever will? Here’s what we found.
To find our answer we tracked 30 resort and hotel Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts that each had at least 200,000 Facebook fans, 75,000 Instagram followers, or 40,000 Twitter followers. We then tracked all of their posting activity for a month and plotted the results below with percentage of all engagement on the Y-axis and time since posting (in hours) on the x-axis.
For example, a line reaching 75% at “10” below would mean that posts from that network see 75% of all engagement within 10 hours of posts being shared.
For this sample 75% of all engagement was received within 4 hours on Instagram, 7 hours on Twitter, and 12 hours on Facebook. At least 90% of all engagement was received within 10 hours on Instagram, 21 hours on Twitter, and 24 hours on Facebook.
What This Means
What’s most interesting about these results is how they illustrate the efforts by these sites to resurface old content or let the cream rise.
Twitter uses “while you were away” and “popular in your network” tactics. Facebook’s algorithm-driven feed is well known. And, not surprisingly, these two platforms give content the longest life span. Instagram’s purely linear feed, however, suggests that without these enhancements virtually everyone who will engage with a photo or video will do so within 36 hours.
But no matter the network, if you want or need your content to be visible for longer than about a day on these social sites, your going to have to do something – resharing, paid promotion, cross-promotion, etc. – to get that reach.
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