GSME #17 :: What’s my Name Again?

social-media-asides

Before we begin the regular weekly dissection of my engagement numbers, I feel duty bound to point out two things: you’ll see this post posted Tuesday, but the following tweets are dated Wednesday. That’s scheduling, folks, and why you should always check the HTML/headers of your webpages to ensure they’re not lying to you. The reason why I’m preceding all of this? Twitter have added some new, shiny filters to improve your browsing experience:

The first four have been with us a while, but the last two are new, and rather disturbing. Suddenly, you can stop listening to anybody else who might be bothering you, for whatever reason, just as long as they don’t follow you. It is obvious why this would appear attractive as a measure to stop trolling (as is the case with a new account) but just stop for a minute and think about the consequences. Click all of these options and BOOM you’ve created a virtual gated Community, where only you control what comes in and out. Now, initially that might sound great… but then stop and think about how much noise that will effectively remove. It doesn’t just filter out who you consider as the bad people, IT REMOVES EVERYBODY.

It won’t just be newcomers: you won’t be able to talk to a celebrity unless they unclick the option designed to protect them from pondscum like you. If an organisation wants to respond to your Tweet because their product sucks, you have to ensure you follow their feed for that to happen. However, this is nothing next to the horrible realisation that all you’ll ever hear are the people you choose to follow, on the assumption they then choose to follow you. Your gated utopia will be lovely though, right up to the point when someone fucks up royally, the whole thing falls apart, and you’re forced to put a Private lock on your account. In fact, the notion of privacy looks a bit lame now, because if you then refuse to listen to any dissent outside a carefully curated circle, you may as well just go back to Facebook.

The problem with filters, of course, is that there is no indicator at all if you’re being ignored or not. That’s why I’ll be blocking far more aggressively going forward, so that people can be very much aware I don’t listen to them for a reason. I’m not pretending to be supportive and open with one tweet, whilst filtering out all the grief I pick up as a result of the terrain on the side. Of course, nobody should have to suffer abuse and trolling, but if that really does bother you then lock your account and stop building an audience. Choose to walk this path right now and, like it or not, abuse is part of the package. I’m not saying that’s right, and it certainly isn’t fair, but just turning off all the noise is most definitely not your answer.


Now that rant’s over, let us look at how the push to increased engagement is going.

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This is the first time I’ve hit above 3% since the Experiment began, and all it took was a Poll on the other side of MMO verbal abuse to do it:

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There’s now no doubting that Polls are an easy, quick and free way of generating interest in your feed. Following this up with a blog discussing the results is also a decent way of making two days worth of content on the cheap, I won’t lie. I run a Tuesday poll to end Thursday, and then one to stretch from Friday to Monday.

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Overall, everything’s a bit more volatile with the polls in place, and what is really needed is a good dose of consistency. That’s the plan for the next few weeks, and I’ll have a more in-depth look at what’s planned next week.

GSME #12 :: Everybody’s Changing

social-media-asides

It’s been a few weeks away from the Experiment, what with operations and the like, but I’ve not forgotten the task in hand… except some rather important things have changed since the last time we looked at stats. They are nothing to do with me, and everything around how Twitter itself does business, and they have had a significant affect on the client’s reporting tools at a basic level.

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I knew this blog post on the 17th was coming well before it arrived. The standard infographic data stopped working for a few days beforehand. Tweets would not register any hits, the real-time reporting went tits up and some key figures were royally screwed.

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As you can see, I didn’t gain 3389 followers this month, but for some reason this is is how the details on my account have been ‘reset.’ You can work out when that was: that dip in followers corresponds in the 55% and 47% dip in profile visits and mentions. Something major happened mid month that (I suspect) may also have removed a lot of bot accounts and automated followers, as the number of random new people I used to get as a result of using hashtags in posts has effectively vanished overnight. The meat of the Twitter blog is however far more concerning: focussing on advertising data, syncing accounts across devices and effectively tailoring your ‘advertising’ experience if you don’t have the good sense to opt out.

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The reality of my engagements over the last couple of weeks is that, like it or not, I’ve just not been trying that hard. Mostly that’s been because of recovery from my operation: there was also a Tweet last week that acted as a salutatory reminder that reach is not everything. I made a comment on a message by Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) which he then subsequently retweeted. He justifiably commands a massive online audience, but getting them to interact?

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So I manage 38k views, and only 17k of those are self-generated. The rest are that one tweet, that garnered a less than 1% engagement rate. I can’t even be confident that these numbers are correct, considering that I didn’t do anything last week, according to my metrics. Until there’s confidence that what I’m seeing is in fact correct, it is probably an idea to not place too much store in what I’m presented.

It’s fine, there’s plenty to do in the meantime instead, including addressing a significant issue with a tool I was beginning to enjoy using:

CoPromote has been broken since April 29th, and the last active tweet from the company was on May 13th. If I were a betting woman I’d say that that interruption I saw happen pretty much put pay for good to this form of promotion, which made money that should really by rights should have been Twitter’s to begin with. It reminds me to go and see if my credit card was charged for May, and if it was to make sure that before June that amount is denied. I’m betting that we’ve seen the last of this Company, and that other such ventures will be quietly yet firmly shut down by Twitter going forward.

It means, starting in June, that there’ll need to be some serious consideration on how I use Social media for effective promotion.

GSME #11 :: Personal Jesus

social-media-asides

I should apologise for being a couple of days late with the Guide, but as history can show this as being Monday when it is in fact Wednesday, I doubt there’s too much of a fuss to be caused anyway. Health issues have inevitably derailed my progress, but they’re also a powerful means of driving social media. If you didn’t know already, drama generates interest.

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Let’s be honest here: I’d rather not have all this fuss and bother right before one of the most important periods of my life, but the Universe does like to mess with your head at the most inopportune of moments. Therefore, my views last week were exclusively driven by the fact I’ve become my own news story, like it or not. I could choose to read these figures in an number of ways, but at this point I’d just like to think that more people than normal care about my welfare, and that’s where we’ll stop. The better news, if we look at the graph on the right, is that I’m keeping close to exceeding a 2% engagement rate.

How am doing that is part of a structured change to my Tweeting habits.

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This Tweet has a picture, from my phone, of me waiting in the Hospital to see my surgeon on Monday night. If I’d have posted it *without* the picture it would have received less interest, because what the image does is make this less about having a conversation. The image, like it or not, draws you into my story. That’s why SnapChat and Instagram are as immensely useful and compulsive as they undoubtedly are as tools for generating traffic: the brain, in most cases, reacts more favourably to visual stimulus. This means that if I post something with a GIF attached, more people will read it, as is the case with a screenshot or a photograph. Once upon a time mobile download limits might restrict this as useful, but as WiFi becomes de rigeur and mobile devices become portable newspapers and magazines as well as gaming rigs… use more pictures.

surgeon

On the flip side, one well worded, concise and honest tweet is worth an entire blog post.

Picture + personal affirmation, in this case, results in a 9.3% engagement rate, if you didn’t believe me when I said that pictures sell. On the flip side however, being overly personal can turn people off. There’s the individual on my feed for instance who’s almost permanently ragging on their ex-partner for being horrible, and although there is a continued measure of sympathy for the situation, that person does go on Mute when it all gets too much. As is the case with life, balance is everything.

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Finally, you don’t need pictures, a personal dilemma or the end of the World to engage an audience. With the right words, a bit of thought and some planning, you can use Twitter to write blog posts, by ‘threading’ a series of tweets together with an appropriate picture at the top. This method of communication is proving increasingly useful for me, and I’ll be making the most of the format going forward. This week, there’s not much else to report really, and with an operation scheduled for the 16th, it will be a little quiet around these parts on Monday anyway.

Time to go practice what we’ve learnt and be ready to start again once all this drama is over.

GSME #9 :: Talk to Me

social-media-asides

This week, it must be said, has the potential to be a game-changer.

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My numbers are down overall for the week, which is due to one thing alone: I didn’t do the work. Instead there’s been a phenomenal amount of back end work, which will continue I fancy for the next four weeks, as I organise and put in place all the parts of the disparate puzzle that will become the Internet of Words. I’ve made the decision to have a separate Twitter account for that ‘brand’, away from what is being done here, because the subject matters are so very different: it is only where the two worlds meet here that the overlap will be noticeable. I’m looking at separate tools for that account’s potential growth, but for now we’ll focus on what happens here in the ext seven days. As you can see, I’ve quietly tipped into another multiple of 100 this morning. What I’m more interested in is the 6% increase in mentions, and the fact I’ve got some idea now of what is effectively doable in terms of long-term engagement.

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The plan therefore this week is to stay above 2% engagement and to try and work towards 3%. Next week I plan to make my own graph of how engagement has panned out in the last ten weeks, as that’s a reasonable time frame to show how effort relates to result. The way to keep that number high is to lay off the unscheduled ranting (which I’m getting progressively better at, it must be said) and focus on content people like: pictures, useful articles, insights on my life. I successfully scheduled from WordPress this morning, and have reactivated Hootsuite after an absence.

I’m paying for it, so I may as well use it, and it is proving already quite useful for showing up the holes in my social media ‘strategy.’ That means that this week’s maintenance task, like it or not, is to go redesign a bunch of effectively dilapidated Google+ pages to make sure that niche is covered come Patreon launch. I also have a Post-It note with ‘Pinterest’ on it for my art projects, plus the visual side of the project which is also going to be featured via Instagram and Flickr.

Needless to say, this morning my brain hurts.

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If I can get all this right, I’m hitting large areas of effectively undiscovered audience with a concerted effort. My CoPromote 500k reach is sitting freshly delivered for April too, and that means that tomorrow there’ll be a post here with some mission goals and a Call to Action, which I hope to repeat on the Facebook page. I’ll consider it a success that I get one person to be interested at present, especially when there’s effectively nothing to promote until June 1st. The key, of course, is to build interest in an engaging and attractive manner.

If I can get everything to mesh together effectively, who knows what I might be capable of achieving.

GSME #6 :: Fade To Grey

As is sometimes the case in Experiments, this week hasn’t exactly gone as I’d planned. However, before we begin, let’s look at the old Engagement scoreboard:

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There’s a few things to mention, most notable of which is that in the last seven days I didn’t use CoPromote at all and still the numbers are up. That will change this week, as I’ve almost built up 100k ‘credit’ to use on something worthwhile, but it is as much about writing a decent post to hook people in to reading long-term as it is just churning out rubbish, which seems to be how some people view Twitter to begin with. The plan going forward had been to boost myself using Twitter’s own range of ‘advertising’ tools and last night I cleared a block of space and time to do just this.

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The range of options is pretty decent: I can, it appears, pay money to get followers (recommended for accounts with an audience of under 1000, I’m told) plus be charged in any myriad number of ways. This was the first thing that put me off: what I could manage for the cash I have available was woeful at best. Obviously the more you pay, the better your chances of reaching people, though it would be unfair to say that’s the only way this works, because it isn’t. An awful lot of Twitter’s advertising however expects you to not only specifically identify and target an audience, but understand how that works to begin with, and I can see this putting off huge numbers of potential smaller users.

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The fact remains, that if paying a tenner A DAY for what might only be seven clicks is not, it must be said, the optimal use of my cash. In fact, if I’m honest, CoPromote’s reach function did more than that, and I pay $19.99 a MONTH. The only difference is what is promised in terms of Impressions, and I can make that happen myself via persistence and little grey cells. Maybe this is part of the reason why Twitter as a company fails to make money but continues to win in terms of being the most organic and accessible of mediums. Perhaps if they tweaked their selling model for smaller sellers, there might be an upswing in interest.

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It doesn’t take a genius to understand how the basic principles operate, but the work involved for me in identifying a niche audience (which is effectively what I am, like it or not) is not currently worth the return. If I were a Warcraft streamer, however, this could have some genuine merit, or indeed if I was trying to sell my product in a larger market. In that regard, and because I know a number of people have been waiting to see what I think of this, I’d say it may well be worth the effort if you have the cash to back it up. It will also help if your market is well known, and can be easily targetted using specific keywords. I have so many applicable keywords right now for what I do, and as I currently refuse to refine those terms? This is a service I can happily leave well alone.

In fact, you’ll probably get far more out of this completely free guide to optimising your account than is ever going to result from a small business using Twitter ads. As is also the case with Facebook, these companies seem to only be interested in those prepared to spend big in able to make their point, and that effectively prices me completely out of the marketplace. More importantly, I get to help out a friend by granting her post a few extra views, which I’d far rather do than chuck money at a huge company that doesn’t seem that interested in my business to begin with.

Sometimes, your answer means not taking the obvious route.

GSME #1 :: Learning to Fly

Last week, I started a journey to see how good (or otherwise) I could get at ‘doing’ Social media during my normal online life. To avoid an Oscar-style SNAFU I’ve already prepared my pictures beforehand on this one, so let’s see how I managed with my first objective from last week, could I sustain 20k engagements a day without really trying too hard?

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This number is totally doable as a starting point. I only scored 17k yesterday because I was hungover and didn’t really push anything particularly hard, but as you can see in the week it isn’t difficult to hit 40k for me when there’s summat going on that gets my feed all engaged to begin with. In Thursday’s case it was a bit of a Warcraft-related moment, and that taught me some important lessons on how the right combination of factors can really get your numbers soaring. However, to understand what makes the best combination of factors in engaging a reader… well, first you need to grasp exactly how these numbers are calculated.

giveaway_tweet

I’ve piced one of my most popular tweets this month to use as an example: The first bit (5832) in this case is simple enough:

impressions

I know why its popular, I’m giving away free stuff. However, there is a world of difference between people just looking at your work and interacting with it, and that’s where the 385 comes in:

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That number is key: ideally you can have less impressions and more engagements and the tweet is more successful, at least in terms of delivering the right message to the correct people. That’s the percentage number, by the way:

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Oh and in case you don’t think that’s right, I even did the maths for you to prove the point:

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Shift your decimal point 2 spaces and BOOM there you go. This tweet may have had a squillion people look at it, but it fails in terms of making people sit up and listen (though for the record, 6% is massively good, see below.) To give you a better idea of exactly what has happened to any particular Tweet, Twitter also allows you to see the breakdowns, as follows:

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The truth is that out of nearly 6000 people seeing this one tweet I’ve managed 71 retweets, as of Sunday afternoon when I did this research. That’s neither simple or easy, it must be said. That’s also pretty insignificant when placed alongside accounts with six figure followers. Hey, nobody said this was going to be straightforward, and if your ‘dream’ of success is thousands of people favourite-ing your every word? Well, if truth be told you don’t need the numbers for success. What could be argued matters more is the ability to engage an audience, not have them simply go ‘yeah great’ and not read a word you wrote.

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Then we enter the realms of quantifying success. If you just want to sell yourself regardless, then all you want is clicks, right? Well, no, because as I said that 6% engagement rate means I’m targeting my stuff at pretty much an ideal audience. As an example, take a look at how Hootsuite got their engagement sorted once the analytical tools came out.

comparison

Even going up into the tens of thousands of clicks, this only manages a 5.3% engagement rate. What this says (and makes me now sit and think) is that it isn’t just what you offer to an individual in terms of marketing that matters. Being self-effacing obviously has merit, and accepting that maybe it isn’t just about being the best or the cleverest either. Honesty sells, as does genuine emotion: humour, sadness and most importantly of all in the current climate, empathy. If you have enough balls to roast people I suspect that too will work well on engagement rates, but that takes bigger kahunas than I doubt I’d ever be able to get my hands on.

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It also proves that my love for the GIF has a lot to do with my current social media success, quite away from the giveaways. In fact I’ve garnered more people with my sense of humour and a well placed loop of imagery than has ever really come from the free stuff, and that’s an important lesson to learn going forward. This week’s homework therefore is looking at ways to raise my engagement rate without having to reach for the easy answer. There’s more than one way to sell yourself, after all, and knowing that I don’t need massive numbers just more interest?

That’s an interesting subject to ponder going forward.