Just before the beginning of Lent, I saw some posts on Facebook and and Twitter which said things like, “See you after Easter! I’m fasting from social media.” I wished those people all the best, but I didn’t feel inclined to copy them. Instead, I was inspired to go in the other direction: for Lent, I took up posting on social media every day. This is an aim I’ve had in the past – on most social media platforms, your posts are seen by more people if you post regularly, so if some of your posts ask people to do something (anything – my examples include: help a charity, join a course, buy a book, answer a question…) they will be more likely to succeed if you’ve been posting regularly in between. And maybe I’m a little contrary, because social media is generally a positive in my life and I didn’t feel like fasting from it!
I’m active on several social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and since the middle of March, TikTok – so I shared my posts round. I posted on at least one of those almost every day – I gave myself Sundays off when I felt like it, and I missed a few days when I was ill. A few things, like blog posts, I shared on two or three platforms, but mostly I created different content for each platform. My goal was to try things out and connect with people. In the following, I’m going to look briefly at the results of my experiments. I’ll explore which type of content worked best on which platform and use that to formulate some ideas about how I might use them in future.
On Facebook, I posted 18 posts during this period. (I was also tagged in a lot.) 8 were public and the other 10 were limited to friends-only (not especially private given that I have almost 3600 Facebook friends, but also not open to everyone in the world). The friends-only ones were mainly about our wedding anniversary party and going on holiday, and it’s not a surprise these were popular (the biggest number is 175 reactions on the picture of the wedding cake, just to give you an idea). Of the public ones, this post asking a question about Quaker worship got the best engagement (in stats, 32 reactions and 52 comments; qualitatively, good answers and interesting conversation). I also shared content from other people, posted about my books and World Book Day, and other more general theological or writing stuff, and that didn’t get the same level of engagement. Posts about this blog get low engagement on Facebook, but the blog stats reveal that it’s the second most common way of finding it (behind the major search engines, which are grouped together). In general, this supports my usual Facebook policy which is that it’s ‘advanced level Rhiannon’ – a mix of personal stuff and in-depth Quaker discussion. When I write for Facebook, I imagine mainly people I already know and already have some background in the topics I talk about.
On Twitter, I tweeted 15 times during this period (and sent lots of replies). I had one runaway success with a Quaker twist on a meme – almost 3900 impressions and a 7% engagement rate, far above Twitter’s average (most brands are pleased with themselves if they get a 1% engagement rate, meaning that 1 in a 100 people who see the tweet do something, such as clicking ‘like’ on it or clicking a link in it). People also responded with some great answers. Other successes include posts about events and projects I’m involved in – especially where I can tag or be tagged by others who are involved – and some of my replies to large-ish accounts also got good numbers of impressions. Lesson: connections are important, joining in with memes sometimes is worthwhile, and it’s okay if Twitter content is often reactive. When I post on Twitter I focus on interacting, and I cover a wider range of topics than on Facebook – for example, I enjoy connecting with the writing community on Twitter and sometimes post about writing, or archaeology, or just jokes. In contrast, when I’m connecting with writers on Facebook it’s in dedicated groups and not visible on my profile.
On Instagram, I posted 14 times during this period. (I also shared 1 story and didn’t get into Reels or anything else…) Instagram isn’t a medium which comes naturally too me because it’s so visual, but as well as posting some pictures of books and food, I experimented with making specific Instagram content with Canva. I only used free elements on Canva, and I tried creating content focussed on my usual themes – Quakers and philosophical stuff. Those posts did better than my others, and this one about Quaker meeting for worship did especially well – it didn’t get comments, but it did have 212 impressions and was seen by 188 accounts – of which 55% weren’t already following me. That’s reaching significantly more people than my other posts and means that ‘keep playing with text in Canva’ will be my Instagram plan for the next few months. I’d like to know a) whether this trend continues and b) whether I can adjust so that there’s more conversation, not just likes!
Finally, midway through March I was overcome by some sort of social media energy and started a TikTok channel. At first I’d ruled it out – isn’t TikTok too visual for me, like Instagram? – but on exploring TikTok further I discovered a subset of posters who are all about the verbal content. That I can do! So in the 8 videos I’ve posted so far I’ve done some experiments. My most successful post so far was a book review, and since I enjoy connecting with other readers I’m planning to focus on book reviews and some posts about my own books for a while. It’s too early to say much more but if you’re interested please come over and say hello!
I didn’t count Goodreads in this experiment, because I post there when a book thing happens, but it’s another social media site where I am active. Very few people in my circles seem to be using CuriousCat any more, but it’s there if you want to ask me questions anonymously. In general, I plan to keep using social media, and perhaps this post will help you choose where to follow me or think through how to use any social media you participate in.
What social media do you enjoy? What kind of things do you want to share and what conversations do you want to have? Have you ever done an experiment like this?