What Does It Mean to Be Active on Social Media — And Why Is It Important?

“The key to sBeing active on social mediauccessful social media marketing is maintaining an active presence on social channels.”

How many times have you heard statements like that? It seems you’ve been told time and time again that you have to stay active on your social media accounts, but what does that really mean? Does it mean updating Facebook every few hours? Tweeting constantly? Blogging every day? Posting Instagram shots every few days?

The truth is, there is no universal definition of what it means to be active on social media, other than it requires more than simply setting up an account and then letting it languish between infrequent updates. The social channels themselves have their own definitions of what constitutes an active user.

Facebook, for instance, defines an active user as someone who logs in to the site and/or completed some sort of action (liking, sharing, posting, etc.) within the previous 30 days. Twitter’s definition is based on user interactions with others, but focuses less on their actual activities on the site; an active user is someone who follows at least 30 accounts, and at least one third of those accounts follows them back. Google+ considers anyone who interacts with the site in any way to be an active user.

By any of these definitions, it’s possible that your business could be considered “active.” However, if you’re using social media for marketing, it’s not enough to simply show up. You have to interact, be present, and well, remember the “social” part of social media.

Why Being Active Is Important

Staying active on social media is a lot like staying active in your life: Sure, things might be okay for a while if you don’t get moving, but it usually doesn’t take too long for your couch potato lifestyle to take its toll. The same goes for your social media accounts: You’ll probably get a few followers in the beginning, but unless you continue to post high-quality, useful content that gets them engaged, they are going to lose interest and stop paying attention.

It’s not just about engagement, though. SEO expert Neil Patel has said “social is the new SEO,” and he has some compelling reasons for that claim. For starters, while Google claims that it does not include social signals in its search rank algorithm, Bing, the second largest search engine, does. While Google says that the authority of a page, as determined by social signals, may not influence search results, social media is treated like any other page in the web index, and if a social page is accessible and relevant, then it’s returned in results.

Other factors pointing to the importance of social media to SEO include the fact that social profiles do show up in search results, and social media sites have become search engines in their own right. Many users will search social media for information first, meaning that a social strategy based on your keywords plays an important role in your content marketing and search marketing efforts.

On a more social-specific level, remaining active on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram also helps you reach more of your audience. The average reach for a Facebook post on a page with more than a million likes is less than 3 percent; for pages with fewer than 1,000 likes, that goes up to about 23 perfect. The more engaged your audience, the greater your reach, as Facebook rewards those pages that get some sort of response from followers, whether a like, a share, a comment, or even just a view of the page. In other words, if you never post anything, no one can respond, and then when you do make a post, no one will see it.

Becoming More Active on Social Media

So how do you get more active on social media? The truth is, there is no “magic formula.” Sure, you might see some suggestions, but to really make the most of your social efforts, you have to engage with your audience and learn what works best.begin active on social media

The worst thing to do is to post and run or post junk just for the sake of posting. When you post anything, it needs to be relevant to your audience in some way, and you need to stick around and engage. How you do this depends in large part on how you are using social media.

Take JetBlue, for example, widely regarded as a company who does social media exceptionally well. JetBlue maintains a presence on both Facebook and Twitter 24/7, and responds to every query in a personal manner. JetBlue uses social media for customer service in an effective way, and manages to support their brand at the same time by injecting some humor and fun into their posts and responses. This isn’t to say that you need to do exactly what JetBlue does, but they are a model for engagement and how to effectively leverage a social media presence.

So while no one can agree on what it really means to be “active” on social media, it’s easy to agree on the fact that you can’t let your social accounts gather dust. Spend some time posting content, responding to your audience, and engaging with them, and you’ll see improved results from your social efforts.