As social media becomes increasingly competitive for drinks brands, platforms are changing their business models to propel paid content to the top of consumers’ feeds. However, what happens to brands relying on organic engagement? 

Speaking with Drinks Retailing at London Wine Fair 2022, Tom Harvey, co-founder of drinks marketing agency YesMore, says that relying on traditional organic engagement is more difficult than ever.

“Social media platforms are making it harder and harder for us to get organic engagement. And in the six months, we’ve seen a drop in engagement,” he says.

The reasoning for this? Harvey suggests that the rise in competition has led social media platforms to prioritise paid advertising: “They’re making it harder for us to get organic engagement because they want us to spend on paid social media, and that’s their business model.”

In what sounds like concerning news for small and independent brands with a lower budget, Harvey offers his advice for those looking to maximise their engagement. 

While bigger brands have seen success with celebrity endorsement, such as 19 Crimes and its collaboration with household names such as Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart, Harvey says there is no harm in starting small: “We all know of celebrities and macro-influencers, but there’s also micro-influencers.

“Influencers are fantastic at driving awareness of your product with an audience which would otherwise not have known about you.”

There has also been a rise of late in social media competitions, as brands look to drive organic content. 

Harvey suggests taking a quality over quantity approach by focusing on a smaller number of social media platforms: “Just keep to one or two social channels really well and put your efforts into that. Don’t try and do all of them – you’ll just drop the ball. And then if you’re a retailer, I would recommend against doing multiple channels for multiple locations.”

Driving organic engagement often involves more time and effort spent on social media marketing, as Harvey points out. However, to help beat social media fatigue, Harvey suggests thinking outside of the brand box.

“Don’t think like a brand on social media – think like a publisher. Publishers will create content that is interesting enough for consumers to want to pick up a magazine…for Aperol Spritz, we’ve been doing Instagram stories on the best Italian restaurants in Bristol, for example, and that is useful in giving value to consumers.

“It inspires the audience, and also supports your listings.” 

To stand out in a sea of brands, Harvey notes the importance of personality and “purpose-led” content alongside product promotion. 

“You can land campaign after campaign after campaign, but sometimes it just doesn’t resonate with the audience.”

“Knowing your niche is really powerful,” he adds, while suggesting that brands avoid simply latching onto calendar dates such as Father’s Day as an opportunity for organic engagement. 

And despite the difficulty of obtaining organic engagement, trusting in the algorithm to get your posts to the right audience is all part of the social media game: “You can post four or five times a day on Instagram and the algorithm will show it to the people that want to see it that many times based on the kind of posts they have previously engaged with.

“I don’t think there’s an upper limit with how many times a day you post. I would do it based on how much effort you can put into it.”