The University of Michigan has 11 social profiles, with roughly 760K fans and followers – and these are only the accounts managed by our team at #UMsocial. Outside, there are hundreds, if not thousands of Twitter pages, Instagram accounts, and Facebook pages representing the University of Michigan. With students jumping on the latest social networks every day, it’s often hard for the university to keep up and to evaluate where these may fit in our strategy. This year, the central UMich channels grew to include Vine, Linkedin, Snapchat, and a blog. Additionally, we manage our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Foursquare, and Tumblr content, posting upwards of 200 times per week across these channels.
As you can imagine, for a small team of five (two full-time employees and three interns), this is a lot of content to create. We do our best to produce creative, original content for each channel, each with a slightly different audience. As our presence evolved throughout the year, we began to notice that our Tumblr account, in particular, wasn’t receiving the high engagement month-over-month that we wanted, and that much of the content we were pushing out there was reblogs, or re-posts from our Pinterest and Instagram accounts.
Before the launch of the new socialmedia.umich.edu in mid-March, we used a Tumblr account as our blog, which included primarily best practices, behind-the-scenes at #UMsocial, stories from our interns, and event coverage and wrap-ups. We host similar stories on our new blog, and it’s linked to much, much more content on our website, driving more traffic to our blog posts, and giving us richer insights on our traffic and audience through Google analytics. Since the launch of our new website, we’ve received 5x the amount of traffic than our original Tumblr blog—and they had the same URL.
We now see more shares and more traffic to our site from social media.
Without question, we knew it was time to shut down the social media Tumblr. We had a new place for this information, and it was much more engaging. With this in mind, we decided to also evaluate the strategy, traffic, and content on our more traditional Tumblr – umichstories.tumblr.com
The umichstories Tumblr launched in October 2012. With 5800 posts, we’ve consistently posted at least 100-200 times per month, re-blogging or sharing our favorite things happening at our university and around the world.
As a micro blogging platform, Tumblr is very powerful. Since its creation in 2007, Tumblr has grown to over 188 million blogs, and over 83 billion posts.
The average Tumblr user visits 67 pages per month. The average visit on Tumblr is around 14 minutes, which is higher than both Facebook and Twitter. (source)
There’s no denying Tumblr gets traffic, that it will continue to grow as time goes on, and that many brands (even the White House, and Beyonce) have used the site to enhance their social presence.
Tumblr’s users are divided equally between genders, and 66% are under 35. Among 13-25 year olds, Tumblr is more popular than Facebook. (source)
However, while it is popular among the younger demographics, this doesn’t guarantee that it will be popular for every brand, even brands with this audience in mind. The umichstories Tumblr grew in popularity since its creation, with 235% growth in followers in 2013, and 20% additional growth so far in 2014. We see average visits fluctuate between 300-500 uniques per month, with most of the traffic being direct (from Tumblr dashboard), or from Pinterest. While these numbers are not a disappointment, through evaluating the strategy, and the massive volume of content (i.e., time) we were putting into this channel, we began to question: What is this account really adding to our social presence?
Many brands get caught up in checking off each social channel, adding all of the accounts to their arsenal, but falter when it comes to creating new content. It’s easy to recycle posts from other visual platforms, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and with Tumblr’s scheduler, you don’t even need to be present to watch your posts. All of this effort, all of this content, without clearly outlined goals in mind, loses its importance. Sure, our Tumblr audience would continue to slowly grow as we continue to post, but why not use these resources, this time and this content, and put it into our other channels? Our Pinterest saw 2320% growth in 2013, and our new Snapchat account, which already has more followers than both of our Tumblrs combined, sees more views on one Story, than our Tumblr account gets in a month, despite only being created 2 months ago.
Social media is ever-changing, and there will always be new platforms for brands to evaluate, and ones they may start a presence on, only to realize they don’t have the time, manpower, or content to maintain them. How do you know which to pick, and which to skip? Here’s a few tips.
Define your goals: It’s important to have a goal in mind when launching a new social channel. Ask questions like, what do we hope to get out of this new channel? Why is it important or beneficial to have a presence on this channel? How will we create and manage the content? How will you measure success?
Define your audience: Emerging social channels often have a variety of audiences. Consider who you are targeting, and find out if they are on the platform, how they are using it, and how your brand could fit into that.
Make a plan of action: Detail the types of content you will populate your new channel with, how often you hope to post, who will manage the channel and respond to your audience. It’s important to have a plan before you jump in to be sure your new channel won’t be blank!
Measure your progress: Based on your goals, measure your progress and success. This could include followers, interactions, clicks, pageviews –whatever your unit defines.
Re-define: Once you begin to track your progress, you may find certain types of content, or posting times and days outperform others. You may want to experiment with new content, plan a campaign, or challenge yourself to exceed your previous growth. You may even realize that this social channel isn’t for you, and decide to shut down your account, which is okay, too!
Starting up a new social profile can be overwhelming, but always exciting. For us, using Tumblr was good practice, and a good learning experience for using a micro-blogging platform, and getting a sense to which parts of our audience are there, and what types of content they’re looking for. Overall, coming to the conclusion that it may be time to shut down your inactive, or unnecessary social accounts should never been viewed as a failure. It just means that it wasn’t the right time or place for your audience, but now you’re free to use your time, effort, and content on another platform.