I am obsessed with GIFs. Particularly split-depth and cinemagraphs. This obsession caught up with me this month when a cool GIF undermined the goal of a post.

We also found some time to run a sneaky A/B test with a cute WordPress video.

That’s enough jabbering, let’s get into the experiments:

Social media Facebook News Feed: Observations

I am cheating a bit here, and I am going to share what I observed rather than give you the definitive job-saving tips. So, obviously, there was the big change to the Facebook News Feed this month. This was hot on the heels of the engagement bait hunt that started in December of last year. If you have been reading the updates then you know that the News Feed change created an incredible amount of barely disguised tension.

But, we knew something was coming, didn’t we?

Rather than re-hash the information let’s just keep some stats in mind. The Big Z said that news makes up 5% of the News Feed and they expect it will drop to 4%  (his engagement rate isn’t that good). When you talk Facebook numbers this is obviously a massive dip. However, when you consider the size of the audience you are accessing for such a low overhead (keeping in mind that you can reach 1000 people for just $5) it is clear that this remains a powerful platform.

What did we see? Not much change for a lot of our content. The comics, my favorite project, are still working well. They still get around 10% organic reach, which is pretty sweet.

Social Media Case Study Strong Content Still Gets Good Organic Reach

Our link posts don’t fare well under the new regime with a paltry reach between 2-3%. Actually, this is neither a surprise or a concern. We only publish essential link posts, everything else is for Facebook content.

Social Media Case Study Links Posts Are Weak

For my dictionary experiment, I am seeing around 5% reach.

Social Media Case Study Even Quick Hit Content Gets Ok Reach

Again, this is a pretty sweet outcome for quick content.

Anecdotal evidence: I have noticed that some pages still get prominence in my News Feed. I read The Guardian every day and I interact with their posts. I see Guardian links after a few scrolls, beneath Groups.

This is interesting to me; I don’t interact with all of the Groups but they still get prominence over the page post. I would actually like to see this change. For that matter, I’d like to see the page posts given precedence over maybe 50% of my Facebook friends, and that’s a conservative measure.

The classic See First in your News Feed is going to come in handy for all of the admins out there. Happy to report it still works.

Social Media Case Study See First on Pages will help you stay in touch

Not only do the results give me hope, but I see some experimentation from Facebook. My favorite is the page carousel. I noticed the carousel that contained a bunch of posts from pages that I like.

I only saw this once. Which is a little disappointing because I like this method for delivering page content.

Social media case study experiment #1: Writing styles and supporting imagery

Sometimes I feel like I make two big mistakes when I write my copy: trying to be too clever, and being too product/sales oriented. The clever is especially difficult for me to pull off. I have been playing with my writing style lately in order to find that happy medium between professional and casual.

  • Content: Two forms of copy for our new free icon packs
  • Outcome: Less clever and salesy copy for the win

We created an icon pack at the tail end of 2017 and it has everything a good icon pack should have (multiple formats, 100+ icons, vectors, free). We promoted them heavily through Facebook, Product Hunt, newsletters and so on. It was a great opportunity to see the impact of copy on engagement. I felt comfortable with this because the product is so good, I thought copy couldn’t damage anything.

Incorrect.

Here are the positive results for CodeinWP. The copy is clear and concise. Not clever, not trying too hard to “sell” the free icons to people. Not quite as conversational as I would like, but not too bad either. As of 31st Jan, the engagement rate is 5.8%. This was a successful post. Although note Facebook dropped some data from it.

Social Media Case Study Clear concise copy gets the results

Now let’s cruise over to the ThemeIsle version to see a real horror show. I messed this one up good.

Social Media Case Study Copy Fail

Let’s deal with the issues individually.

First, the copy. I got a little excited with all the Christmas cheer and it’s trying too hard. It is too sales driven for a product that is free. The intended message gets lost in the flashiness of the copy.

The copy is also too long. 59 of the post click went to Other Clicks, of which the “See more” link is a huge part.

Second, while it is not clear from this image I managed to bury the link in the initial post. The link was beneath the “See more”. Luckily for me, the chief lives in Portugal so I still have all of my fingers. This really was a rookie error.

Third, the GIF. The GIF looks awesome. It is really, really cool. But you can see in the numbers that the GIF dragged attention away from the icons. The GIF should have complemented the message rather than detract from it.  In the end, we got 57 clicks to play and 15,000+ views. Not on point.

Fourth, it feels like there is some confusion over what users are meant to do with this post. The call to action is more like a mumble to do. The CodeinWP post screams: Download them now. ThemeIsle barely looks up from its sneakers: Check them out. It is further complicated by the giant play button on the image. Playing the GIF became the call to action.

The end result? The goal was for people to go to the site and download the icon pack. Look at the post clicks. Only 41 link clicks, 14 reactions, 1 comment and 1 share. That’s an engagement rate of around .04%.

A few lessons to be learned here: keep the copy nice and clean. Don’t oversell it. Don’t be too clever. Keep the call to action solitary and obvious. Pick the right visuals to support the post. Don’t bury the link.

Social media case study experiment #2: Testing videos on Facebook

We have a blog post on the evolution of the WordPress UI which basically runs through the changes to the dashboard over the past 15 years.

We posted the images of the dashboard in the early days of our Instagram posting.

The post garnered us 59 likes, which was a good figure for these early days. We decided to get an animation of all the dashboards for our YouTube channel, the blog post, and social media. Obviously, we went through some iterations. We made major changes to the intro screen and the music.

Social Media Case Study Evolution of the WordPress dashboard

This seemed like a good opportunity to test the videos to see what people responded to.

  • Content: Video with simple intro and music vs. video with exciting intro and soundtrack
  • Outcome: The simpler video far outperformed the “exciting” video
Video one has the boring intro and music. As shown here:

Social Media Case Study Video 1

Video two has a slick animated opening and a rocking soundtrack:

Social Media Case Study Video 2

In both cases, we spent $64 but video one was much more successful. It reach 27,100 people for 10,745 views.

Video two reached 12,800 people for 8,574 views. Reactions and post clicks were around 20% of the amount for video one.

The first version enjoyed a little boost from Facebook once it was clear it had a better response from the audience. With almost the same budget spent on the same audience, we got way better results and lower cost per reach for the first one.

The first video has such a clear introduction and you know exactly what you will get when you click to watch. The second video is less obvious. I have written in the past that content that tells the story at a glance is always more successful. This is further proof of that fact. Also, music and sound are almost irrelevant. People are still choosing to watch Facebook videos with the sound off.

Final thoughts

This was a great experiment to run. It will help with the budget for video projects in the future. With every iteration, we get closer to a nice formula for our audience.

Next month we hope to have some figures on the impact of Facebook ads on installs for a new WordPress theme, traffic referral to YouTube, and some insights on how our newsletter experiment is going.