How often should I post to social media?

On top of all the work involved with blogging, knowing which social media platforms to focus on to help build traffic and what type of strategy to use for each can feel like an overwhelming set of decisions.

If you’re active on too many social media accounts, you might not be able to dedicate enough time to building your audience, keeping on top of updates, outreach and responding to comments. On the other hand, ignoring thriving social media platforms could be detrimental for building your site. Where is the happy medium?

The answer is a combination of a few factors:

  • how much time you have available for social media promotions
  • how long it takes you to create updates (compare a YouTube video with a tweet, or repurposing an image from a blog post for Pinterest)
  • where your readers are hanging out
  • your own personal passions (writing vs photography or video)
  • how easy it is to reach your followers (organic vs paid posts)

Experienced bloggers tend to use social media scheduling tools to become more efficient – such as CoSchedule, Buffer or Meet Edgar. They may also get to the stage where they employ a VA (virtual assistant) to help with social media tasks which cannot be automated (responding to queries, running competitions, creating images according to a style guide).

Different blogging niches will find their audiences in different social media locations. News and political bloggers see Twitter as a natural place to promote their blog posts. Pinterest and Instagram lend themselves to fashion, lifestyle and food blogs. Facebook can work well for bloggers in any genre. Snapchat can work well for celebrities and people who teach or sell products who want to get people to trust their work and get to know them more intimately.

What are top food bloggers doing with social media?

To investigate social media usage by top food bloggers, I took the Top 200 from the American Food Bloggers’ list* and looked at their profile numbers and other applicable figures. Data was collected in February and June 2016.

Facebook

99% of the top food bloggers have a Facebook page associated with their blog. Facebook likes in June ranged from 2,681 to 3,677,150 with a median of 78,466 likes. One quarter of the top food bloggers had more than 2,357,755 likes. One quarter of them had less than 26,675 likes.

The median growth rate per year for their Facebook likes is 36%. Growth rates range from -2% to 678%. One quarter of the top food bloggers had growth rates of more than 71%. One quarter of them had growth rates of less than 15%.

Figures for their recent average number of Facebook updates per day were also collected. The median number was 2.6 and ranged from 0 to a whopping 19.6 per day. One quarter of top food bloggers were posting more than 5.8 posts a day, and one quarter were posting less than once a day.

74% of the top food bloggers are posting more times to Facebook on average each day in June than they were in February 2016.

Twitter

All of the top food bloggers have a Twitter account. Twitter followers in June ranged from 145 to 640,240 with a median of 7,481 followers. One quarter of the top food bloggers had more than 15,642 followers. One quarter of them had less than 3,186 followers.

The median growth rate per year for their Twitter followers is 11%. Growth rates range from -3% to 478%. One quarter of the top food bloggers had growth rates of more than 22%. One quarter of them had growth rates of less than 5%.

Top food bloggers are posting on a median number of 2.4 tweets per day on average. The range was from 0 to a giant 129 tweets per day on average! One quarter of top food bloggers were tweeting more than 5.4 times a day, and one quarter were posting less than 0.7 times a day on average.

46% of top food bloggers opened their Twitter accounts prior to 2010 and only 4% opened them after 2013.

Instagram

98% of top food bloggers have an Instagram account. Instagram followers in June ranged from 345 to 1,119,078 with a median of 17,558 followers. One quarter of the top food bloggers had more than 40,433 followers. One quarter of them had less than 6,355 followers.

The median growth rate per year for their Instagram followers is 54%. Growth rates range from -344% to 1,234%. One quarter of the top food bloggers had growth rates of more than 84%. One quarter of them had growth rates of less than 33%.

Top food bloggers are posting on a median number of 0.7 posts per day on average on Instagram. The range was from 0 to 8.6 posts per day on average. One quarter of top food bloggers were posting more than 1.1 times a day, and one quarter were posting less than 0.3 times a day on average.

46% of top food bloggers opened their Twitter accounts prior to 2010 and only 4% opened them after 2013.

Pinterest

All top food bloggers have a Pinterest account. Pinterest followers in June ranged from 74 to 3,898,945 with a median of 60,169 followers. One quarter of the top food bloggers had more than 121,137 followers. One quarter of them had less than 28,834 followers.

The median growth rate per year for their Pinterest followers is 76%. Growth rates range from -344% to 1,469%. One quarter of the top food bloggers had growth rates of more than 170%. One quarter of them had growth rates of less than 40%.

Top food bloggers are posting on a median number of 19 pins per day on average on Pinterest. The range was from 0 to 179 pins per day on average. One quarter of top food bloggers were pinning more than 45 times a day, and one quarter were pinning less than 2 times a day on average.

Other Social Media

Few food bloggers are actively promoting other social media accounts such as Snapchat or YouTube. I will keep checking back on this and see whether other accounts should be added in the future.

Summary

Biggest growth: Pinterest

On average, the biggest social media growth rate seen by food bloggers is on Pinterest followed by Instagram (76% and 54% respectively).

Largest followings: Facebook

On average, the largest social media following for food bloggers is seen on Facebook, followed by Pinterest (78,466 and 60,169 respectively).

Largest number of updates: Pinterest

On average, the most number of social media updates per day are done on Pinterest, followed by Facebook (19 and 2.6 respectively).

Typical number of updates

Based on the top food bloggers, here’s the median number of updates per day:

  • Pinterest: 19
  • Facebook: 2.6
  • Twitter: 2.4
  • Instagram: 0.7

Pinterest is a highly visual medium with 100 million monthly active users conducting 2 billion searches each month. 85% of users are female and 42% of US online adult women use Pinterest.

Brainstorming dinner ideas is one fantastic reason to use Pinterest. And, given that most of the top food blogs are written by women, and generally for women, it makes sense to be active on Pinterest. Recipes are posted in long vertical format (so they are visible for longer as people scroll down) with clear calls to action to check out the recipe or pin it for later. The aim here is to get pins which go viral.

While followers are important, unless you’re pinning and repinning many times a day (using automation), it’s less and less likely that your pins will be seen on their Pinterest homepage since so many pins are being added. It’s more likely someone does a search and finds your pin or is browsing through your boards. Comments or meaningful discussions on pins are rare.

Instagram is another highly visual medium with 400 million monthly active users, with 49% being female. It’s the perfect place for photographers to show off their work – and so it’s a natural fit for food bloggers whose
photography is a huge selling point. While Instagram makes it difficult to link to individual blog posts, the current trend is to update their profile link to their latest blog post each time they update.

Food bloggers tell me that this is where they get their most engagement – people asking questions about recipes, chatting about life and feeling a sense of connection with the food blogger. Instagram is less about researching recipes to cook and more about being inspired by chance (“food porn”) and deciding to check out a recipe on a whim, or because you like a particular chef and follow them.

Instagram is an easy platform to maintain – adding a photo or two from each recipe which is posted, along with relevant hashtags does not require much effort.

Facebook seems to be hit or miss for food bloggers and is changing to work better for those who add snappy videos which don’t require sound on to understand what to do.

Facebook engagement seems to be declining – less comments on pages, but more discussions in groups. Some bloggers create their own groups and automatically post to these where reach is a lot better than page updates. Reach is declining overall, unless you are paying to boost your content. Posts which do go viral and are shared can be a huge source of traffic for food bloggers.

Snapchat is still an experimental raw space for food bloggers who are afraid of missing the boat (like many were for a while with Pinterest or Instagram). It requires an ease in front of the camera for videos, unlike the
highly edited environment of Instagram. Its audience is much younger, and presumably fewer young people are as interested in cooking as older women.

Hope you found this research insightful – would love to hear your feedback.

* americanfoodbloggers.com – there is no perfect list of the Top 200 food bloggers, this list has been used as a good proxy. Data collected 02/25/2016 and 06/10/2016.