It’s already the fifth edition of my social media case study, hard to believe. Because every month is scarier than the last when you work in social media. Still, at least we don’t work for Facebook, am I right?
Putting our tears for Facebook aside, how does it all impact your work? How does it change your day to day operation? Even one of the biggest names in WordPress SEO, Yoast, noticed declining reach this month.
Facebook reach has been dipping hard and it feels like the scandal and #deleteFacebook movement will conspire to push Pages further down the priority list. Going forward I am going to start looking at more effort in groups and increasing activity on other channels.
The new Twitter rules have me very excited. Twitter is such a great platform that is ruined by excessive posting and needless retweeting. I think this has great potential to clean up the platform and return it to its former eminence. Well, eminence is a bit strong but I think it could return to a better place. Let’s face it, if your strategy was established in such a way that this update has you worried then you were the problem with the channel. I also think it could go further and end this kind of spam.
Social media case study experiment #1: New channels, new challenges
Other channels are legion for us, so let’s stay calm. And, as you know I am killing it on Reddit. Like any hero I am not selfish, so I jumped over to Medium to share the love. I like Medium (it is such a cool thing to love right now) and it has a good amount of traffic.
It is a nice mix of social and publishing platforms. However, for my initial post, the good folk at Medium did not respond well at all. Well, actually, they did not respond at all.
Rough. I created a quick story with our web tarot images. It was mainly about getting onto Medium and seeing how the platform worked and what I could do on there. I think this is a good platform for brand awareness/building but I’d be very reluctant to share anything else over there.
The thing is that I think we can reach people from outside our WordPress niche particularly if we look to expand our content offerings. For example, if we sought to start providing more blog content that was platform neutral then Medium would be a perfect place to start offering it because of the diversity of the Medium audience. It would allow us a good chance to reach people that see us as just a WordPress company.
I’m still keen to try, so in April I will take a few of our client comics and publish them on Medium. These comics regularly pull the highest share and comment numbers across social networks.
In the meantime, I’ve still got Reddit, right? Weeelllll…
Social media case study experiment #2: Square video gets squashed
So, we made this cool video 10 totally legitimate reasons why you should never use WordPress. Video is the most oft-cited cure to your declining organic reach and square video even more so. If I film myself reading the paper people will watch it if it is square. We beat the hell out of this video with a blog post (the link above), landscape and square posts on Facebook and the aforementioned Reddit post. The best result was from the newsletter where it pulled over 400 clicks.
The landscape post went to the CodeinWP Facebook page and got a tasty boost. I had low expectations for this post because of the aspect ratio but it performed well enough. The engagement rate was still low at around 1% (at time of writing), and the organic reach was low at around 10%, but it broke the shackles and reached people.
Not too shabby, but I was hoping for better based on the quality of the content and the fact that it is video. A lack of negative feedback is always nice, but the other numbers were underwhelming. So, we posted the square video on Themeisle’s Facebook page. This was the post that was going to ROI the heck out of that video. Did it? Weeellll…
Not really I guess. The engagement rate is 0.65% and we got us some negative feedback as part of the bargain. The organic reach, understandably, was lower than a dachshund’s belly with just 863 people seeing our content for free. Even with the boost we reached just 10% of our audience. Did we get the sweet video boost? Not really. The organic reach was slightly higher but only around 25% or so.
My feelings on this are that the Themeisle post suffered because it followed the CodeinWP post too quickly (but these are the sacrifices I make for you, dear reader). I also had a look at the audience insights and I noticed that our combined audience buck most of the trends for accessing Facebook. Some stats place mobile access as high as 95% whereas I am seeing the opposite.
Maybe not quite the opposite but definitely adjacent to both. Look at the numbers for computer access. That’s a massive discrepancy. This partially explains why the video worked well in 16:9. It is a much better aspect ratio for desktop. Square videos on desktop look weird. I worked with the animator to create an easily squarable video and we paid to have him adjust the aspect ratio for Facebook. But hey, now I know. In future, I don’t think we’ll worry too much about square versions.
Social media case study experiment #3: Reactions
I paid closer attention to how our posts were affected by shares, comments, and reactions. I didn’t actually attempt to encourage reactions, as this practice is frowned upon by Facebook. Still, I was curious. Plus fooling around with posts gives me an idea of what matters to Facebook. Besides, no one is watching anyway. The reactions actually do matter.
I really concentrated on a few link posts because we give everything else a sneaky boost. The first item for your consideration is a link to a round-up of 20+ free UI kits on CodeinWP. The free round-ups are always popular with our audience and this garnered 8 likes from a reach of 363 (2.2 ER).
In the last month, we also put together a monster post about WordPress hosting, which is a controversial subject. This post got 2 likes, 3 shares for 995 reach (0.5 engagement rate).
Finally, a funny links post to a bunch of animated CSS puns. We have posted this kind of content before and got a good reaction. This post got 5 reactions with 3 likes and 2 loves. The loves were enough to boost the reach to 995 (0.5 ER).
This is weird, but not unexpected, because the free themes are probably more useful to the audience. It is interesting to see exactly how much effect the different types of reactions have. For the next month, I am going to go through the list here and see how different ideas impact on reach.
Social media case study experiment #4: Advertising for the newsletter
I have been wanting to talk about BizarroDevs for some months now and I know you are going to say that BizarroDevs has no place in this article. But my fearless leader and I have been enjoying our work on BizarroDevs. It is, for sure, my favorite side-project for some time. We started with the obligatory subscribers from the office in January and this month ends with 544 subs on the list. How did we get here? Through a mix of trade and advertising. Our research helped us find a bunch of newsletters for either a mention swap, or a good source to get some ads happening. Did I mention the name enough?
Oh and tweets. We sent some tweets. Let’s see which method was most effective.
Tweets. I sent 32 tweets from the @BizarroDevs account and 6 from @Themeisle when Twitter Promote Mode was running.
Results: 1 subscriber = 32 Tweets. Nice one.
We also created some ads in various newsletters that crossover with our intended audience. The best deal for us was with WebToolsWeekly which cost us $75 and brought in 75 subs. This dollar is actually very well spent because these guys are proving to be our most engaged readers.
Our ad in eWebDesign was pricey at $450 for access to 240,000 subs. Unfortunately, it brought us a lot of sessions but only 45 subs. Tedium gave us a better return for the $50 we spent. We pulled in 24 subs. Our final ad, so far, was with PonyFoo Weekly which only got us 13 subs from our $75 spend. It has been an interesting experiment, and this gives us a good idea of where we want to go for future targeting.
As part of the promotion we also did some quid pro quos with other newsletters and Facebook ads. Our newsletter swap with TheWhip got us 63 subs. Interesting to see that this free trade was the second highest performer, subs wise. Unfortunately, we have a bunch of subs without info. Someone messed up the UTMs for the trade with WPMail, the Facebook ads and our own newsletters. You know who that was, right?
So, that’s the end for this month. Thanks for reading and I am going to leave you with something weird I noticed these last few weeks: off-topic comments on Facebook ads. We had one with a guy complaining about the EU, and this random one about English football hooligans.
I had no clue what was happening, so I asked him which hooligans were worrying him. It took me like 3 days to work it out. Have you seen anything like this? Is this a spoiling tactic used by people who are frustrated with ads?