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

The end of 2017 was quite interesting here at Revive.Social, and we experimented a lot with our images and content. Mostly I am interested in post types and the level of engagement we are getting with them.

We had some success last time with video, but we’re still testing ways to create the best content quickly.

Anyway, rather than fool around too much let’s dive in and look at the types of posts we explored in the final months of 2017.

Social media case study experiment #1: Re-purposing blog content

  • Content: Link posts.
  • Outcome: Fail.

One of the most important things I have learnt is that link posts are like speed limits; no one pays attention. Notwithstanding their value as April Fool’s jokes, but that’s about it. Link posts are getting lower than 5% organic reach and the engagement rate is embarrassingly low. Check out this link post on the popular subject of page builders, Elementor specifically.

Social media case study: The humbling results of using link posts in Facebook

The numbers are bad all across the board here. The content is good, from both timeliness and quality, but it got little to no love. Well, not enough love to make it worthwhile. Both our ThemeIsle and CodeinWP blogs publish great content for WordPress users, but it doesn’t transfer to success for the Facebook audience. I have consistently found that the audience ignores link posts.

As a result, I have decided not to push links much at all. We might have certain articles that we should or need to post, but beyond these core articles I see no value in link posts. Instead, I have started picking one post from the blog per week, the standout, and posting it. For anything else which might have appeal I am taking the main points and re-configuring them into an interesting image.

When we take a blog post and re-purpose it as an image we start to see the engagement rates reaching over 2%.

  • Content: In house image with an infographic style design vs Blog content.
  • Outcome: Image wins by some margin.

Social media case study: The engagements rates for repurposed blog content on Facebook

For the same link post with the same copy the results broke my heart a little. Just a little.
Social media case study: Same content. Same copy. Worse result in this Facebook link post.

Link posts are not bringing us any value on their own. From here on we will be converting articles to images with some link support in the copy. As we get deeper into 2018 we will be working on tweaking a mixed media approach to re-purposing our blog content.

Social media case study experiment #2: Video can fail. And does

We’ve already been working on developing a new style, mostly in our images. I formally dissolved my commitment to Canva in November. It is not a problem with the tool itself. Canva, and Snappa, are nice, on the contrary they are too good and the style is ubiquitous. Across all social media channels you can see the Canva and Snappa ‘style’. If I continue to use these tools then it is hard to make a different kind of noise than everyone else out there.

We regularly reach 5% of our audience, but I’d like to reach a little higher than that. This means I needed to consider changing up the content I was delivering. We have seen above that images perform strongly, so that just leaves video.

Video is often touted as the savior of your Facebook page. This is partially true. There are a number of tools to help with video making. Lumen5 is popular and easy to use, but this is not necessarily going to help you boost your content. The first thing we noticed is that weak openings are indeed destructive. You’ve heard that before, I am sure. But a weak opening absolutely murders any decent content or concept.

This is so important when you are pushing content on Facebook. Take our video of most famous brands using WordPress. It got an engagement rate of just 0.83%.

  • Content: Video of famous brands using WordPress vs Infographic
  • Outcome: Infographic for the win.

Social media case study: Video is not a guarantee of success. Check out this Facebook fail

The originating content/concept is solid. Just compare those numbers with the infographic post which had better numbers across the board ( engagement rate of 3.5%).

Social media case study: Snackable content can be better than video.

There are two factors at play here:

  1. The video thumbnail is as appealing as a shoe sandwich. There’s no explosive start that grabs attention.
  2. The infographic is snackable and tells us the whole story in a second.

We ran the same test again specifically with a different image that could be turned into a gif. The content was exactly the same but the form was slightly different. The results were consistent.

  • Content: Funny GIF vs three image post
  • Outcome: Image wins.

The GIF had less than 1% reach after 15 hours with 3 likes and 6 views (engagement rate around 2.7%). Check out that thumbnail. Pretty slick.

Social media case study: This GIF was a failure on Facebook. Images perform better than video.

After 15 hours it was time for a mercy hide. I rejigged it to a three image post and got an organic reach of 5%, with 20 reactions and 3 comments in an hour (currently 1.9% engagement rate).

Social media case study: These images outperformed an animated GIF in just 30 mins

So, the content is solid and people were engaging, however, those starting images created a high barrier to interest.

As part of this project we have started playing more with humor and, in particular, comics. We engaged two illustrators to work on some comics for us and they are starting to get some traction.

Social media case study: A funny post on acne brings us our most successful Facebook post yet

These WordPress comics routinely have better engagement rates 2%+ than any other form of content. They have also helped us appreciate the differences in our audiences. For example, I posted a GIF to ThemeIsle which reached 365 people (ER of 3%). I designed the GIF to show the full story at a glance.

The image on CodeinWP reached 1341 with an engagement rate of 3.2%. Clearly, the ThemeIsle audience is less interested in CSS jokes. It’s a pity, because the joke is decent.

We’re finding that this new format with more humorous posts is regularly pushing our organic reach up beyond 10%, and the comics are getting us as high as 45%.

Because the numbers are better we are boosting this content more. This is actually proving to be a winning strategy. We see our competitors and all the ads look the same, and the posts rarely differ. When people see a promoted post with the CSS cure for pimples they are genuinely astounded. One commentor was genuinely stunned “Why is this a promoted post? Did someone in the marketing team have a pimple today?”

Social media case study experiment #3: Experiments with hashtags

Hashtags on Facebook confuse me. In other words, I am never really sure if they are a thing or not. I see a lot of them. Even in native Facebook posts. However, their ability to have an impact is something I wonder about.

I spoke with my fearless leader and she dismissed the value of Facebook hashtags. We decided to give them a try just to see.

Experiment design here is slightly problematic. It needs to be the same content served to as much of the same audience as possible. This is almost impossible without spamming some unfortunate souls. We decided to test with the WordPress comics on ThemeIsle and CodeinWP. In spite of the differences in the audiences, at the same time, the pages affinity ratings for the audiences are quite high.

I took this WordPress comic and casually tossed the #FridayFunday on it. It did have a slightly larger reach. 17 people in fact. On the other hand, it got fewer reactions for, obviously, a lower engagement rate.

Social media case study: Are hashtags any use on Facebook. Data says yes but not really, no

Social media case study: Hashtags bring little value to Facebook posts

I will continue playing with them to see how they perform with other content types, but their value seems low. Fearless Leader 15 – Chris 0.

A word on targeting…

They say most people mess up the targeting in Facebook. I am most people. The thing with targeting is that it seems really cool. After all, Facebook has all that information and all those users. I target every variation of web design and web development. Then I add WordPress, plus every competitor real and imagined, then I’m going to see a massive boost, right?

Nope.

I tricked the targeting out on this post and managed to reach 706 people.

Social media case study: Targeting must be well done or you end up limiting your post to a very small audience

Lesson learnt.

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