As a little experiment, I shared a development tip on three different social networks. I also tried to post it in a format that was most suitable for that particular social network:
- On Twitter, I made it a thread.
- On Instagram, I made it a series of images.
- On YouTube, I made it a video.
How did each of them “do”? Let’s take a look. But bear in mind… this ain’t scientific. This is just me having a glance at one isolated example to get a feel for things across different social media sites.
The Twitter Thread
A little journey with lists, as a 🧵 thread.— CSS-Tricks (@css) April 27, 2020
`list-style-position: outside;` is the default for lists, and is a pretty decent default. The best part about it is that both the markers *and* the content are aligned. pic.twitter.com/CkQv1hIt6q
Twitter is probably our largest social media outlet. Despite the fact that I’ve done absolutely nothing with it this year other than auto-tweeting posts from this site (via our Jetpack Integration), those tweets do just about as well as it ever did when I was writing each tweet. These numbers are bound to change, but at the time of writing:
428 (first tweet)
Going off that engagements number, a little bit less than 1% of the followers had anything to do with it. I’d say this was a very average tweet for us, if not on the low side.
The Instagram Post
View this post on Instagram
There are alignment things to consider with lists like an <ol>. The markers and the content. Outside positioning does well. But it uses the edge of the box as alignment and renders markers outside the box which can be bad for getting cut off. There is a solution with custom counters and subgrid though!
Instagram is by far the smallest of our social media outlets, being newer and not something I stay particularly active or consistent on. No auto-posting there just yet.
Using Reach, that’s 96% of the followers. That’s pretty incredible compared t 1% of followers on Twitter. Although, on Twitter. I can easily put URLs to tweets and send people places, where my only options on Instagram are “check out the link in my profile” or use a swipe-up thing in an Instagram Story. So, despite the high engagement of Instagram, I’m mostly just getting the satisfaction of teaching something as well as a little brand awareness. It’s much harder for me to get you to directly do something from Instagram.
The YouTube Video
YouTube is in the middle for us, much bigger than Instagram but not as big as Twitter. YouTube is a little unique in that there can be (and are) advertising directly on the videos and that get’s a “revenue share” from YouTube. That’s very much not driving motivation for using YouTube (I make 50 cents a day, but it is unique compared to the others.
We do have a Facebook page but it’s the most neglected of all of them. We auto-post new articles to it, but this experiment didn’t really have a blog post. I published the video to our site, but that doesn’t get auto-posted to Facebook, so the tip never made it there.
I used to feel a little guilty about not taking as much advantage of Facebook as I could, but whenever I look at overall analytics, I’m reminded that all of social media accounts combine for ~2% of traffic to this site. Spending any more time on this stuff is foolish for me, when that time could be spent on content for this site and information architecture for what we already have. And for Facebook specifically, whatever time we have spent there has never seemed to pan out. Just not a hive for developers.
I probably should have factored CodePen into this more, since it’s something of a social network itself with similar metrics. I worked on the examples in CodePen and the whole video was done in CodePen. But in this case, it was more about the journey than the destination. I did ultimately link to a demo at the end of the Twitter thread, but Instagram can’t link to it and I wasn’t as compelled to link to it on YouTube as the video itself to me was the important information.
If I was trying to compare CodePen stats here, I would have created the Pen in a step-by-step educational format so I could deliver the same idea. That actually sounds fun and I should probably still do that!
The problem is that there isn’t anything particularly useful to measure. What would have been way more interesting is if I had some really important call to action in each one where I’m like trying to sell you something or get you to sign up for something or whatever. I feel like that’s the real world of developer marketing. You gotta do 100 things for someone for free if you want them to do something for you on that 101st time. And on the 101st time, you should probably measure it somehow to see if the effort is worth it.
Here’s the very basic data together though…
One interesting thing is that I find the effort was about equal for all of them. You’d think a video would be hardest, but at least that’s just hit-record-hit-stop and minor editing. The other formats take longer to craft with custom text and graphics.
These would be my takeaways from this limited experiment:
- You need big numbers on Twitter to do much. That’s because the engagement is pretty low. Still, it’s probably our best outlet for getting people to click a link and do something.
- Instagram has amazing engagement, but it’s hard to send anyone anywhere. It’s still no wonder why people use it. You really do reach your audience there. If you had a strong call to action, I bet you could still get people do to it even with the absence of links (since people know how to search for stuff on the web).
- While I mentioned that for this example the effort level was fairly even, in general, YouTube is going to require much higher effort. Video production just isn’t the same as farting out a couple of words or a screenshot. With that, and knowing that you’d need absolutely massive numbers to earn anything directly from YouTube, it’s pretty similar to other social networks in that you need to derive value from it abstractly.
- This was not an idea that “went viral” in any sense. This is just standard-grade engagement, which was good for this experiment. I’m always super surprised at the type of developer tips that go viral. It’s always something I don’t expect, and often something I’m like awwwww we have an article about that too! I’d never bet on or expect anything going viral. Making stuff that your normal audience likes is the ticket.
- Being active is pretty important. Any chart I’ve seen has big peaks when posts go out regularly and valleys when they don’t. Post regularly = riding the peaks.
- None of this compares anywhere close to the real jewel of making things: blogging. Blogging is where you have full control and full benefit. The most important thing social media can do is get people over to your own site.