Study: User-generated content drives higher Facebook engagement than ads

Dive Brief:

  • Mavrck released its “Facebook User-Generated Content (UGC) Benchmark Report” comparing engagement levels for user- and brand-generated content on the platform during 2016 and found that UGC drove a 6.9x higher engagement level than brand-generated content.
  • A likely major reason for the difference is Facebook’s news feed algorithm, with the report pointing to several significant updates to the Facebook news feed algorithm in 2016 that placed emphasis on content from friends and family. 
  • Other significant findings from the report include decreases in engagement in 2016 compared to 2015 (down 15.14%) and in likes (down 7.87%), comments (down 37.47%) and shares (down 27.8%).

Dive Insight:

While brands were focused heavily on the quickly proliferating ad opportunities on social media last year, the report reflects a swing back to what makes social unique — the ability to engage through sharing, UGC and influencers — as concern over inaccurate measurements and fake news cause marketers to seek out more organic ways to engage consumers than ads.  

Even though the key takeaway from the focus of this study was the impact of the algorithm shift, previous research has underscored the value of user-generated content. The entire premise of why influencer marketing works is that sponsored content isn’t seen as branded content and therefore carries more weight with consumers. This was validated in the Mavrck study finding that the average engagement per Facebook post was significantly higher for more influential users with a 3.5x higher earned engagement rate for users in the 75th influencer percentile.

The report suggests that marketers on Facebook should encourage existing customers to create user-generated content about brands rather than publishing and promoting brand-generated content, and specifically pointed to influencer marketing and digital word-of-mouth efforts as effective Facebook engagement tactics for 2017.

Filed Under: Social Media Trends
Top image credit: State Farm