The Great Flickr Experiment of ’11

In my last post, I touched on the premise that a social media link is only good for 3 hours, at most. To test this theory using my daily photo project over on Flickr I sent out a tweet, Facebook update and Google+ update between 7:30 and 8:30 every morning; and followed that up with either 1 additional tweet around 2:00PM or 2 additional tweets at 2:00PM and 7:00PM (or as close to those times as possible). On the days when I didn’t send any promo’s, the page views were, expectedly, near zero. On the days when I sent only 2 promo’s, I got ok page views. On the days when I sent out more promo’s, though, I noticed a marked increase in traffic. Not only that, but when I did this over the course of a few days, there was an increase in the day-over-day traffic as well.

Notice what’s happening when I send out zero promotions. That’s right, zero page views. Now, I’d had the photo blog going for about a week at the leftmost point on this graph, and there had been views to each of the photos I had posted previously. I had been sending out pretty much one Twitter and one Facebook update per day, usually in the morning. On September 3rd, though, I wanted to test the stickiness of the traffic I had built up; that is, I wanted to see if people who had come before and knew I was posting a photo a day would return without external prompting. Clearly not.

When I went back to sending out 2 consistent posts per day, however, the traffic returned. It may also help your page views if you’re doing more than just broadcasting: re-tweeting posts, tweeting links to other content, participating in conversations on Facebook or Google+ all help people to see you as more than just a one-way broadcaster. This can, in turn, increase your follower or circled counts (which puts each new message in front of more eyes, driving more new traffic, etc). You can see that just by maintaining consistency in message (I tried to stick to a schedule for sending out my links, but kept all other messages real-time), my aggregate views kept growing day-over-day.

So I’ve settled on my schedule for posting: 1 2am Twitter post for the early risers and European/Asian audience, 1 Twitter and Facebook post between 8am ands 9am, 1 Google+ post around the same time, 1 afternoon reminder tweet between 1pm and 3pm, and 1 final tweet between 6pm and 8pm. This ensures that I’m reaching the entirety of my audience, not just the people who happen to live in the same time zone and are looking at Twitter at exactly the moment I send out my message. Except that I’m forgetting something: Google+ functions much the same as Twitter, where the timeline is constantly moving. The more people in your circles, the faster the timeline goes. To that end, I’ve added a late afternoon/early evening Google+ update to the mix, bringing the total to 6 posts per photo. Too much? Well, the metrics I’m measuring are 1) page views and 2) Twitter followers and people who add me to Google+ circles. Since both are consistently going up, I have to confidently say “Not too much”.

For your brand, regardless of whether you’ve got a B2C or a B2B audience, whether you’re just trying to get a view more page views on your blog or you’re trying to drive some other interaction (a download, a purchase, a comment, a Like), you’ve got to recognize that just sending out a single message at a single time is no longer enough. For an email marketing campaign, sending a single message is exactly the right thing to do. Things can sit in the inbox and get clicked on later, and people get more put off by multiple identical messages hitting their inboxes. But for social media, the world is moving in microbursts of bite-sized information nuggets, and your single message is going to get swallowed up in the vast universe of Twitter, Facebook and now Google+ (not to mention any of the other social platforms like StumbleUpon, Flickr, YouTube, etc). By sticking to the 3-hour rule (I’ve actually got more like a 4- or 5-hour rule to be safe), you can build a much wider audience, increase traffic and see measurable results relatively quickly.

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