This past month has been exciting for our social media case study, as we have managed to shake some trolls loose. When we weren’t battling them we managed to find some time to promote a new child theme on Facebook, branch out into new social media channels, mess with Twitter Promote Mode; and have some fun with some new friends.
Social media case study experiment #1: Twitter Promote Mode: TPM
Twitter Promote Mode, hereafter TPM, ran for a month and it was a lot of buck for a little bang. If you are not familiar with TPM, it is an automated promotion option available on Twitter. It costs $99 for one month of promoted Tweets with a maximum of 10 per day. TPM promotes the first 10 Tweets you post each day (as long as they pass the “Quality Filter”). Basically, make the first 10 count because you can’t pick and choose the Tweets that get the boost. The only way to selectively boost Tweets is to pause TPM and switch it on for your ten best Tweets. However, this needs to be done with care because your subscription doesn’t stop during these pauses. Your billing cycle will still end at the same time.
Essentially these promoted Tweets are just like ads but without the need for ad campaign management. I think we could argue that they are similar to Facebook’s boosted posts in that you get the ability to promote your content without a deep dive into ad management. TPM remains in beta at the time of writing this article, but its targeting options are much more limited than Facebook’s. Firstly, you are limited to selecting U.K., the United States of America, and Japan.
Secondly, you will see that the interests are quite broad. Although it is quite humorous to see Interest listed as a subcategory under interests. For us, the best bet would be to pause and then manipulate the targeted interests according to the posts. Technology and computing is a solid entry for our visual content, but the rest are up for grabs. Note the comment ‘we’ll only target people in the country you selected’.
You can jump into settings and select targeted locations, but again only 5 locations within the selected country. It should be added that TPM is in Beta right now, however, the targeting options still feel too narrow.
At any rate, we confirmed everything and we left that sucker to run for a while. The results? Meh.
You’d have to say that the reach of these promoted Tweets is nice, as it costs about $5 to reach 2000+ people which is probably a $10 investment on Facebook. However, it has to be said that the impact of said reach is weak. We paid $12.75 for each new follower.
A note on my approach here: I decided not to take full advantage of the Tweet numbers. This was a conscious decision based on the limited targeting options and my commitment to never spam. In the end, we will pay about $1 to boost each Tweet which isn’t that bad.
Final thoughts: TPM is not so useful for us in this current iteration. If you operate in the covered niches and countries then this might be a good way to get started in social media promotion. In particular, I see it being a good tool for small and local businesses who might not have the time or budget for running ad campaigns. I would add a caveat and argue that if you plan to run a social media ad campaign, Facebook is still the best option.
Social media case study experiment #2: Switching channels
When Facebook made all of their big changes recently I got a little nervous because we all knew people would start losing jobs. I decided to start experimenting with other channels in order to provide some level of comfort to my young family. Most businesses’ social media marketing efforts center around the 4 big ‘uns: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. Obviously, this is valuable advice, but I disregarded it this past month. What I mean is, if we know that these four are effective, and we’ve already got strategies in place for those networks, then what’s the harm in going outside them and having fun on Reddit?
It also gives us a chance to target our audience via the subreddits, whereas targeting Twitter users with organic posts is actually quite hit and miss. Hashtags can help direct the message, but the amount of noise in the WordPress section of the Twitter-sphere is riotous. In theory, Reddit targeting can be almost as specific as Facebook’s targeting tools.
So, I dove into Reddit using my own profile. Why not? What is the worst that could happen?
Well, nothing actually. Everyone was really supportive and we made a sweet .25 USD in Bitcoin.
The Reddit community has a bad reputation and the number of subreddits at the fringe of good taste make it unpalatable. However, the channel has genuine potential if you are able to get in there. Google was able to use it to perform user testing for the Pixel phone and got 1300 comments in a single day. As you know, comments can be up or downvoted so Google was also able to see which ideas were the most popular.
How did I approach it? I completely avoided marketing and showed no interest in driving traffic. I went with proven content, our comics, and I followed the rules of each subreddit.
The rules don’t specifically forbid comics and/or jokes but I know the WordPress subreddit is a more serious forum. The simple solution was to speak to the moderator about posting the comic and making my intentions clear. Basically, I offered to post the comics but without a link. This was not such a large concession since every comic is watermarked ‘CodeinWP’. The mod approved my request and I posted some comics.
I am calling this a win. We only drove 33 users to the website, but that was never a goal. At the time of writing this, the comic was upvoted 179 points from 91% upvotes. It only got 1,700 views, but there are 50 comments. We didn’t get trolled at all and we were lucky enough to receive only positive comments. We also got a new channel to share our content and get more eyes on it. This is like walking into a party, getting a warm welcome and making everyone laugh.
Social media case study experiment #3: Impact of Facebook ads on WordPress installs
We released Orfeo, a Hestia child theme, in January 2018 and it surpassed 7,000 active installs by the end of February. We ran Facebook ads from 31st January until 16th February.
The ad looks really nice but the figures seem a little off to me. The ad spend was $473 and we reached 27,592 people. We got 56 downloads from 601 link clicks.
You can see that the downloads have been quite consistent throughout the campaign, without any major spikes or dips. But I feel like the ad should have had more impact. The ad looks good and the strategy was sound. Plus Orfeo is a beautiful theme we built from our flagship product, Hestia. I’m curious to know how other ads fared in this period after the News Feed changes. I think there was also some blowback from users against advertising on Facebook. We saw some negativity towards the end of 2017 (community standards prevents imagery here), but we look forward to improvements.
The price of success: What the trolls taught me
I wanted to include some information about my newsletter and the overall experiment, but we started getting our first trolls this past month. I feel like this is a rite of passage. For me, the first troll was remarkably similar to my first shave. I thought my handling was incredibly smooth but actually, everything was stinging, and there was a lot of blood. A lot.
Hiding comments is never helpful. People are immediately suspicious when they see this. I learned it is better to let the comments overflow with tagging and emojis than to look Orwellian with the hide button. I am happy to say that I have never deleted comments, so 1 point for me.
Comments need engagement regardless of sentiment. In some ways, the best way to approach a negative comment is with the same attitude. One user claimed our competitor was ‘999% better’ than us. I replied with a ‘Whoa. That’s a high number’ and asked him why. He was pretty friendly and then proceeded to set out some conditions for our improvement. These conditions were actually impossible, but still, the feedback was interesting – and the conversation remained civil.
It was an interesting month for our social media case study. Next month I will be back with the details on the newsletter because it is my favorite project right now. I am also going to play with some long posts on Facebook. Long posts without links, just trying to talk to the audience.