Sharing your performance data without including industry-specific social media benchmarks is like putting on a play without setting the stage. Sure, people will get what you’re saying, but they’ll probably come to their own conclusions about the bigger picture.

Industry benchmarks provide the context needed to tell a richer story about your social media marketing strategy.

Use data from Sprout’s 2024 Content Benchmarks Report to illuminate opportunities to fine-tune your strategy in a way that resonates with your target audience. Before diving into the data, keep reading to learn more about the metrics, why they matter and how you can use them to make sure that 2024 is your best year yet.

What is a social media benchmark?

A social media benchmark serves as a performance standard that allows social media teams to assess and compare the effectiveness of various strategies and campaigns. Marketers often use benchmark data to create realistic social media goals.

Teams can compare their results against three different types of social media benchmarks: industry benchmarks, competitive benchmarks and personal benchmarks.

What to measure in 2024: Social media benchmarks by industry

The Content Benchmarks Report analyzed more than 2.1 billion messages from over 1 million public social profiles that were active between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023 to pull industry benchmarks on three specific areas: posts published, inbound engagements and outbound engagements.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of each metric, along with benchmark data from the top three most active industries for each metric. Download the report for a full look at the data.

Download the 2024 Content Benchmarks Report

Posts published

Posts published is a straightforward metric. It measures the number of posts published across accounts during a specific period. While this may seem simple, it’s often at the foundation of a successful social media strategy.

Narrowing in on posts published can help you reverse engineer the publishing volume needed to reach certain impressions, engagements and engagement rates. If your social media goals are data-informed, then figuring out how to reach them is just a matter of reviewing your previous performance reports.

A data visualization detailing the number of posts brands published per day across networks in 2023 (10).

Brands published an average of 10 social posts per day across networks in 2023—unchanged from the benchmarks we saw for Q1 – Q3 2022. 

From a publishing standpoint, consumer-facing industries consistently surpassed this goal. Those include:

  • Media (43 posts published per day)
  • Leisure, sports and recreation (26 published posts per day)
  • Retail (20 posts published per day)

To be fair, these industries have an edge over the rest. It’s much easier for a consumer-facing brand to align their content to trends, events or even cultural moments. Just look at how Steven Madden hopped on the annual In-and-Out list trend to kick off 2024.

A TikTok posted by Steve Madden. In the post, the brand provides its list of 2024 ins and outs.

You can still replicate this strategy even if you’re not in the retail space. Next time your business has something fun on the calendar, look at the event through a social-first lens to get more mileage out of your presence.

Inbound engagements

In this report, you’ll find two different inbound social media engagement benchmarks: average inbound engagements on content per day and average daily inbound engagements per post.

Breaking these numbers down by day and post helps validate the success of your overall strategy and individual posts. This granularity is key to measuring the success of big swings in your social creative and copy.

Of course, the more you post, the more chances your audience gets to engage. For that reason, industries that consistently surpass publishing benchmarks also receive a higher amount of inbound engagements.

Industries that receive a proportional higher amount of inbound engagements per post compared to their publishing cadence include:

  • Food & Beverage (17)
  • Computer Software & Technology (16)
  • Government (14)

Outbound engagements

In 2024, outbound engagements will make or break your social strategy.

People are flocking to closed communities and vertical networks for a more tailored online experience. To remain competitive in this new era of social, brands will have to double down on proactive marketing. Building 1:1 relationships on social isn’t a trick for overnight growth, but it is a controllable, sustainable path toward long-term rewards.

This marks a sizable shift in traditional brand social strategies. In 2023, the average number of outbound engagements was just 2 per day across all industries.

Industries going above and beyond include:

  • Telecommunications (16 outbound engagements per day)
  • Leisure, sports & recreation (8 outbound engagements per day)
  • Media (6 outbound engagements per day)

For telecommunications companies like Boingo Wireless, outbound engagements also support superior customer care. Their team uses Sprout’s social customer care tools to monitor keywords related to service locations, which can include airports, military bases, conference centers and more. This allows them to provide service to any one in need, even if they don’t tag the Boingo account in their question or comment.

A post from X user @nate_bukaty that says, “Back above ground @fly2ohare. Glad to be safe and glad for WiFi so I can watch this awesome WBB game!”. The Boingo Wireless social team responded with “Happy to connect you on your journey. Enjoy! #WhereEverYouGoBoingo”

Social media engagement benchmarks across social networks

One size fits all social media strategies have long been a thing of the past. Between ongoing network fragmentation and the rise of new content formats, teams must now create bespoke strategies that account for the nuances of the intended platform.

Every social media network has its trends and communication norms, which can impact how consumers interact with brands in those spaces. Segmenting your social media benchmark data by network is a powerful way to ensure your expectations are consistent with user preferences.

A data visualization depicting the average number of engagements received across social networks in the year 2023. The values are as follows: Facebook with 22 engagements, Instagram with 21 engagements, and X (formerly known as Twitter) with 13 engagements.

According to the 2024 Content Benchmarks Report, users began shifting their activity toward Meta platforms in 2023. Engagements received on Facebook and Instagram have remained steady year-over-year, while engagements on X (formerly known as Twitter) have taken a slight dip.

The benefits of social media data

Benchmarks can turn last year’s data into this year’s advantage. Now that you have new insights at your fingertips, here are three ways you can use social media engagement benchmarks to level up your strategy:

Industry benchmarks serve as inspiration

Every industry has its own unique approach to social media. If you want to revamp your social media marketing strategy, looking beyond your competitors can be the first step to your next game-changing campaign.

Use industry benchmarks to find out which brands outpace the rest when it comes to the metrics listed above. As you look through their social presences, try to identify what they’re doing differently and how your brand can emulate them. This is a great way to come up with innovative ideas that bring something new to your target audience.

Competitive benchmarks give your performance context

Understanding how your brand stacks up against competitors can help you tell a richer story with your performance data. With competitive benchmarking, you can better translate your efforts for business stakeholders who may not know what social media success looks like.

Screenshot of Sprout Social Instagram Competitor Report that demonstrates competitors' followers and audience growth.

With Sprout, you can use network-specific competitor reports to compare your performance with your top business rivals. These social competitive analysis reports offer insights on publishing behavior, fan growth and engagement so you create tailored benchmarks around the metrics that matter.

Personal benchmarks inform your immediate goals

Your personal benchmarks should be your go-to resource for creating actionable goals. While industry social media benchmarks can give your performance color, your brand’s own year-over-year benchmarks tell the story of your growth over time.

This is especially meaningful for brands piloting new social strategies or adopting a new network presence.

Establishing personal benchmark data starts with annual reports. Your year-over-year performance data is critical to identifying strengths and weaknesses in your social media strategy. These insights should be the core reasoning behind your goals for the upcoming year.

Month-over-month benchmarks, on the other hand, will help you gauge progress on specific campaigns so you can identify quick wins or necessary pivots. These benchmarks will also help ensure you’re pacing well on social media KPIs.

How to find social media benchmarks by industry with Sprout

Establishing social media benchmarks without a social media analytics tool is like riding a bike with low tire pressure up a hill. You’ll get there eventually, but it’s going to take a while.

Sprout Social helps marketers speed up the data collection process with cross-network performance reports that allow for smart data segmentation. These tools support on the fly benchmark data collection so you’re always working with the full picture, regardless of when you start tracking your KPIs.

Screenshot showing the open date range filter within the Sprout Social web application. This filter enables users to apply a reporting filter, facilitating the collection of performance benchmarks.

Brands using Sprout’s Premium Analytics can build custom reports that ensure your data is always presented with the right context, no matter where it ends up. Simply use Text Asset widgets in the Report Builder to include information on personal and competitive benchmarks alongside up-to-date performance data.

Let the benchmarks be your guide

You’re all set to start collecting your personal and competitive benchmarking data. You can leave the industry data collection to us.

Find out how you stack up against brands operating within the same industry with the 2024 Content Benchmarks Report. Inside, you’ll find up-to-date benchmark data, as well as research on the types of content your audience is craving today.