The Sorry State of Social Media Engagement

Engagement is everything in social media marketing. Without engagement, algorithms won’t favor our content, and audiences won’t take actions to become customers. Thus, we would expect the biggest, best, most well-known brands in the world to expend serious effort and resources on building engagement.

How much engagement, as a percentage, would you guess the top brands earn on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter?

As part of our new whitepaper, Social Strategy Optimization, SHIFT examined the social engagement rates of top brands in B2B and B2C social media marketing. Let’s take a look at how brands are doing.


SHIFT Communications extracted the social media engagement rates for 57 major B2B and B2C brands over a 12 week period from their respective Facebook pages. The brands were chosen by market cap and recognition. Engagement is defined as the combination of likes, comments, and shares. Engagement rate is defined as the total number of engagements divided by the number of Page Likes. No distinction or differentiation was made between paid and unpaid content.

B2C Brand Social Engagement

B2C brands overall exhibited declining engagement rates in the last 12 weeks:

B2C Social Media Engagement Rates, Last 12 Weeks

We see an average engagement rate of 0.31% for major B2C brands. The only reason for such a significant spike at the end of July was due to the Olympics and heavy social advertising. Even still, out of 10,000 people, 31 of them will engage with a B2C brand.

B2B Brand Social Engagement

B2B brands fared less well than their B2C counterparts:

B2B Social Media Engagement Rates, Last 12 Weeks

We see an average engagement rate of 0.12% for major B2B brands. Out of 10,000 people, 12 of them will engage with a B2B brand.

The Fortune 10

The Fortune 10 sits in the middle, as expected for a combination of B2B and B2C brands:

Fortune 10 Social Media Engagement Rates, Last 12 Weeks

We see an average engagement rate of 0.22% for the Fortune 10.

Combined Perspective

When we stack up the different engagement rates, we see a similar story: all major brands, B2B or B2C, continue to experience declining engagement rates:

Combined Social Media Engagement Rates, Last 12 Weeks

For organizations whose marketing is partially dependent on engagement, this is a significant problem.

Who’s “Winning” Engagement

Of the top brands, which are doing reasonably well with engagement?

Average Engagement Rates by Brand and Category

We see organizations like Citi and Phillips 66 doing reasonably well, far better than their peers. Other major brands aren’t quite as fortunate.

How to Build Engagement

Engagement is vital, and many brands aren’t doing well at it. How are you doing at it? Do you wish you had better social media engagement?


In Social Strategy Optimization, you’ll learn the driving force behind social media engagement, as well as how to develop strategy, tactics, and execution to grow it. You’ll see the state of the art in engagement measurement using IBM Watson and learn what you’ll need to do to achieve your engagement and growth metrics.

Download your copy today!

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Posted on September 7, 2016 in Analytics, eBook, Facebook, Marketing, Marketing Technology, Social Media, Strategy

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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