So, here we are with the 1st edition of my social media case study / experiments and adventures here at Revive.Social.

I should probably start with an introduction, though. Hi, I’m Chris. I’m responsible for this blog’s social media presence (plus two of our other blogs’ CodeinWP and ThemeIsle).

One of the issues I have faced is the number of articles that are written about social media marketing. It is hard to separate all of the noise into useful advice that you can use to build your site or reputation online. I read widely on the subject, but I keep finding myself asking more questions about the process. “Is it working, how long do I persist in this before I stop and try something different?”

chris

These are the questions that keep me up at night, sitting in total darkness staring out the window. In the rain.

Well, okay, it is not that bad obviously, but learning the craft was proving more difficult than anticipated. One of the problems, I think, is that best practices in social media have a unique fluidity and an algorithmic law. It is hard to determine how the law functions with a reasonable degree of certainty without constant experimentation.

This series will all be about what I learn from my social media experiments on multiple social media channels. It is all about sharing the up and downs of trying various experiments in social media.

We are looking to build an audience on social media and increase the engagement while sticking to the laws of the algorithm. One thing that is immediately obvious is that the law is also determined by the brand ideal associated with each of the networks. So, in the case of Facebook, their algorithm is defined by their specific philosophy; connectedness, community, communication, free speech or, in Mark Zuckerberg’s words, “Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community.”

So, I am happy to introduce our first social media experiment on Facebook concerning content and community. How did I develop the following idea? Over at PostPlanner, they have an article which GUARANTEES (all caps in original) engagement – here.

The fifth tip suggests trying to use Behind-the-Scenes photos to humanize the business. This kind of content promises to make us stand out from the competition and provide the transparency that fans (fans seems to be the term everyone likes…not users nor customers but fans). So, the experiment was to boost organic reach with a series of posts that were based on the team and not on the thing that the business does – in our case, WordPress products.

Starting the ongoing social media case study

Social media case study experiment #1: Images from the team-building trip to the Danube Delta in Romania.

  • Content: 5 Images with captions.
  • Outcome: Success!

For this post, we had an organic reach of 1088 with 20 reactions and shares. This was nearly twice the reach of our previous link posted article, 591 organic reach, and five times the reactions and shares.

Social media case study: The performance of our team post from the Danube team building
The team-based post was more successful than previous link posts.
The results of a recent link post fail on Facebook
You can see that despite having good copy and an appealing topic the link post failed.

Social media case study experiment #2: Combine behind the scenes with a good story

Bill Widmar provided us with a great post recently on 6 Facebook Business Page tips here. My favorite tip is number 6 which tells me that emotion is the key to the fan (and by extension the otherwise cold and lifeless algorithm). Check out the post because we paid a lot for excellent tips from the maestro of marketing. Bill says that stories are key because people love heart warming stories. The algorithm knows this and it will reward warm and fuzzy posts.

  • Content: Two images. One of our interns, Dragos, on his last day. One of the entire team being happy.
  • Outcome: Success!

This post outperformed the Danube post with twice the reach and reactions. We used Dragos’ quote, with his approval of course, and allowed his story to shine:

Details of the successful Facebook post using behind the scenes and story concepts
We got Dragos to tell his story and showed our fans behind the scenes.

Takeaways

Indeed the algorithm is cold and heartless, but it is driven by the logic imparted from its masters. The posts that have a social and humanizing aspect (community driven) are given a decent boost, and these increased eyes will lead to increased reactions. It is clear that to work effectively on Facebook we need to work within their focus of building communities. Read more here.

Social media adventures in video

No social media experiment would be complete without dipping a toe into the video pool. I have added “adventures” here because live streaming feels like an adventure every time I do it.

Everyone is experimenting with social media video because Facebook is pushing video heavily. The big guy, Mark Zuckerberg, saying “I see video as a mega trend, same order as mobile.” If rumors are to be believed, Facebook is willing to spend $1 billion on original content next year. Admittedly the numbers are assumed, but they do seem consistent with business goals that are increasingly centered around video.

For example, we all know that they have started their own social media experiment with Facebook Watch in America. We also know that video is already huge on Facebook with Buffer statistics suggesting that billions of videos are watched translating into millions of hours spent on video each day. So the equation seems fairly simple. Get video + post it = they will come. Too easy.

Nothing is ever that easy, right? If you read widely you will see that:

There’s a lot of different information available about video, best practices, and the best way to get that elusive News Feed bump.

So, this leads us into the next batch of experiments: two live videos and some original content.

Social media adventure #1: Facebook Live announcement and a sneaky update

My first Facebook Live was an attempt to test the waters and see the results. It was a fairly simple setup with just one devilishly handsome man, me, on the camera announcing a new update to our flagship product Hestia.

  • Content: Streaming video with an image.
  • Outcome: Qualified success.
Facebook Live Stream 1 Results
The results were encouraging in context.

The results: 5 live viewers and a post stream organic reach of 837 with 37 clicks. 107 minutes viewed in total from 216 video views. The video was short coming in at just 2 minutes and 28 seconds.

Social media adventure #2: Facebook Live behind the scenes and meet the team

The second Facebook Live ‘event’ which combined the behind the scenes logic with live video. Another simple setup with a walk around the office and quick introduction to the team.

  • Content: Streaming video only
  • Outcome: Success.
Live Stream 2 results in Facebook
The results were more encouraging for this experiment.

The results here were a little better with an organic reach of 3,789 and 65 reactions. We managed to jag 3 shares out of the 1,350 video views. The video was longer at 4 minutes and has a more festive air with a lot of joking and fun.

Takeaways

A few things stand out from looking at these videos today. The first video had an image of me leaning forward while I scratch the side of my head. This was created because I made a mistake setting up OBS. What this means is that Facebook started streaming the few seconds before I planned. Like a 2 second delay, which left me looking like a fool.

The content was not very appealing to users either. It seems clear that the content of news etc. is not as enthralling as I would think. Clearly, a movement away from these themes is crucial to the success of the next stream.

So, the second live stream contained an image of the area outside our office. While this is not necessarily the most beautiful image one could see it is an improvement. We also found that the team introductions were much more interesting for people. News and updates are forms of information that can be found elsewhere, behind the scenes and team introductions not only personalize the company but they cannot be found elsewhere.

Social media experiment #3: Original animated content

For our final experiment we converted our blog post “How to be the worst WordPress designer on the planet” in to an animated video.

  • Content: Animated video with text.
  • Outcome: Success.
Results from a video post that was based on one of our popular posts.
The results were very encouraging.

We did boost this post to the tune of $50 and we got a total reach of 96,198 (nearly four times our audience). We picked up 426 new followers in the week after the initial post.

Takeaways

Clearly video is the key to the algorithm’s heart! Particularly original content that is uploaded directly to Facebook. A sneaky boost is well worth the money.

Next steps

So, I read Ana Gotter’s recent blog post which warns me that ‘Algorithms change, and those trending growth hacks may do their job and then fall by the wayside.'(see the full post here). I think this is really good advice, but with some things, like video, we can feel safe that Facebook will continue to push it and that it will remain appealing to people in the long term (at least until extinction). 

We are going to continue the video experiments on Facebook, particularly with original content and live streams. I am excited about all of our social media experiments, but I am *really* excited about the comics. We have brought in an illustrator/animator, and we are working on more dynamic content for the social channels. This will include a monthly comic series, which will tackle a range of subjects from the WordPress environment but also the wider tech world.

This is the first example of our new comic style posts, drop by next month to see how it performed.

WordPress jokes about the stress of working with outdated tech

What do you think about these experiments in social media of mine? We’ll aim to feature one such update a month, with the goal of making it a valuable ongoing social media case study.


Chris Fitzgerald

Chris Fitzgerald

I put words into pleasing arrangements for ThemeIsle, CodeinWP, and ReviveSocial.

I curate the weekly newsletter, http://bizzarodevs.com/, with weird and wonderful tech news.
Chris Fitzgerald

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