When managing and creating content for multiple Social Media platforms, what determines your success? How do you know if you’re doing it right? Due to its low cost and accessibility it’s easy to experiment, but what are indicators that these strategies are working? As a leader in Social Media for universities we are obviously interested in knowing how many followers or ‘likes’ we have in addition to growth rates. However, we find that other data is much more informative and telling of our effectiveness. If our Facebook page has thousands of likes but people aren’t looking at our content or liking our content (and ‘liking’ our content) we aren’t doing our job correctly. Each platform has a different audience, and engages in a different way. This makes the type of data specific to each page.
According to number of ‘likes,’ (551,348) Facebook is our most popular social networking site. This channel has an audience all over the board- from students, to alumni, to football team fans. When determining level of engagement for a particular post, taking a look at the likes, comments, and shares is helpful. The number of likes is the most visible indicator of popularity, but this is not the only thing you should be concerned with. Reading the comments helps discover if people are receiving your message in a positive or negative way. A ‘share’ is when a user chooses to display a post on their personal Facebook page. Shares are important because we can gain a much higher post reach when our fans share our content. The post reach is the number of unique people that see your post. A post is considered to reach someone when the post appears on his or her newsfeed. While the number of likes are helpful to see if someone enjoys or supports your post, your page post reach might be a better indicator of how much influence your post holds. Another indicator of how many people see your post is by looking at the number of impressions. The number of impressions is defined by the number of times content is displayed. Impressions and reach can be easy to confuse with one another. One way to differentiate them from one another is to think that one person can be ‘reached’ by a post only once, but the post can be displayed multiple times when they are clicking through Facebook- and each time it is displayed it becomes an impression. All of these analytics can be found on Facebook’s Insight pages. Facebook has their own analytics built into their site that is very user friendly and helpful to look at when determining which posts are successful.
Twitter is another popular site that receives a significant amount of engagement everyday. This audience is primarily students and members of the Ann Arbor community. Once again, while it is helpful to know the amount of followers and average growth rate, our engagement is a more significant indicator of success. On Twitter, it is easy to see the number of retweets and favorites each tweet receives. A retweet can hold more value because a user re-posts your tweet on their timeline. In this case all of the person’s followers would be able to see your tweet. This could be considered similar to sharing a post on Facebook. Another piece of data similar to Facebook is Twitter’s potential impressions. This is the total number of followers of every person that retweets your tweet plus the number of your followers. If someone that holds a lot of influence online with a high number of followers retweets your tweet, many more people will then see what you have to say. Replies are made when a user responds to your tweet and starts a conversation. It’s important to take the time to reply to your user’s tweets as well. This makes your connection with your followers more personal. Sometimes our followers get really excited when we reply to them and act as though a celebrity acknowledged their existence. This is always fun to take note of!
A mention is when a user tags your twitter handle in a tweet. Mentions are helpful to know when people are talking about you or your brand. Twitter offers its own analytics, however it can be confusing and difficult to navigate. While there are free solutions offered depending on what data you’re trying to find, the most comprehensive tools usually cost a monthly or yearly fee.
Instagram, a photo and video-sharing site, hosts our younger audience. As far as analytics go, in addition to number of followers, it’s important to take note of likes and comments made per post. User-generated content is the most prevalent for Instagram. We have a lot of followers and fans requesting to have their Instagram pictures featured on our Instagram. Users often tag us or use our hashtags as a way to catch our attention. User-generated content is a unique way to engage with the university’s fans. A feature that is exclusive to Instagram, which is yet another important indicator of a very successful post is if the Instagram ends up on the ‘Explore Tab’- or better known as the Popular Page. An ever-changing algorithm determines which pictures appear on the Popular Page. The algorithm is speculated to require the photo to be liked by at least 20% of your followers and likes by at least 400 people that do not follow your account in the first 10-20 minutes of posting the photo. Here are a few examples of our pictures that made it onto the Explore Tab.
Instagram does not offer analytical data, but there are multiple tools dedicated to deliver the necessary information to determine which posts are the most engaging. Here are some insights from one of the tools we use for Instagram.
In addition to noting the types of content to post in order to get the most activity, we must keep other factors in mind when posting. One of these factors is the time of day. Depending on each channel, there are certain times of the day in which the majority of our users are online. Its important to be aware of what others are doing to stay engaging in your industry, so every week we take time to note how many followers all of our top competitors have in addition to their number of followers. Fortunately, there is a good amount of online literature and blogs dedicated to Social Media best practices, and we’ve found many that are specific to universities. These provide useful strategies and advice from leaders in the field. Different events on campus must be acknowledged and can also promise popular content. For instance, our athletic events such as basketball and football games always provide a lot of hype.
This year we were lucky to have fellow Wolverines compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and two of our students brought home the gold! This is the type of news we must always be on the lookout for.
While keeping up with competitor’s posting strategies and reading advice from dozens of articles can provide useful help, we find that our Wolverine community is unique from others. It’s better (and more fun) to figure out what works best for our particular audience and to deliver our brand in our specific way. While pouring over data can help find out what’s worked in the past, it’s important to provide fresh content that keeps our fans and followers clicking back for more.
2013 was a great year for us and we boasted significant growth in all of our channels. Take a look + make sure to follow/like us on all of our social media channels!