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5 Social Media Marketing Lessons We Learned in 2015

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At AddThis, testing is a huge part of our decision making for marketing, product enhancements, and more. Whether it’s a call-to-action for landing pages or email subject lines, we take a data driven approach to almost everything we do. That’s why at the end of Q3 last year, when we saw a drop in our social media performance, we stepped on the gas with what we were testing. After we saw a significant increase in growth, we decided it was only right to share what we learned!

Here are five of our top social media marketing lessons learned:

1. 12AM ET to 2AM ET is an Awesome Time to Tweet

Perhaps one of our biggest learnings from last quarter is that late nights and early mornings are really effective times to tweet. Specifically, from 12AM ET to 2AM ET. When looking back at our top 20 performing tweets from October, November, and December, half of them were all posted during that time. The rest were a mix of mornings and evenings. This can also be an indication of an international following, where your followers in different time zones are just waking up.

Earlier last year, Buffer published an article that showed some of the most popular times for marketers to tweet, which peaked on weekday afternoons around 12PM ET. While this may be the most popular time, it also means it’s the nosiest, which reduces the chance of your tweet being seen and interacted with by your followers.

With this in mind, we tested times that we thought of as traditionally quieter on social media. Surprisingly, our overall engagement, including URL clicks, RTs, and favorites, spiked, contributing to a 36% MoM increase.

Here’s an example of one of our late night tweets:

Lesson learned: Weekday business hours are noisy on Twitter. Try testing off-hours, like evenings, late nights, and early mornings, by scheduling tweets in advance. The sweet spot for your brand may be different than what it is for ours, so be sure to test to see what works.

2. Saturday and Sunday Mornings Get Results

In addition to our weekday testing, we also experimented with tweeting on weekends. And as it turns out, people aren’t necessarily taking a break from their devices on Saturdays and Sundays. We found that weekend mornings, especially between 8AM ET and 11AM ET, get higher engagement than weekday mornings during that same timeframe. In fact, it seems like they’re even more connected than during the business week. We found similar results tweeting over the holidays, where more time out of the office meant more time engaging on social media.

Lesson Learned: If you don’t already, try scheduling a handful of tweets for weekend mornings. You can also test different types of content. For example, we found that light, entertaining, but still educational content does well on weekends compared to promotional posts.

3. Repeating Yourself on Twitter Isn’t a Bad Thing

This is something we’ve said before: the speed at which Twitter moves allows for brands to repost the same piece of content multiple times. Just make sure you aren’t repeating the tweet verbatim. Change up how you compose it. For instance, the first time you tweet about an article, you can use the title, the second time, a quote, and the third or fourth, data points or a specific learning. Reusing content that has historically proven effective for your handle is a great way to not only save time finding new content, but to get the most out of what you’ve already published.

Lesson Learned: Identify a collection of “greatest hits” from what you post on Twitter, and add them to your weekly circulation, or as appropriate. If you really want to boost your numbers, use your greatest hits during your most popular times and watch those clicks, RTs, and likes grow.

4. Don’t Use the Link Preview Format on LinkedIn

This last quarter we made a push to begin establishing a presence on LinkedIn, aside from editing and updating our company page earlier in the year. One of the first things we noticed when we began posting regularly on LinkedIn was that, compared to link previews on other social networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn’s link preview leaves a lot to be desired.

Knowing how effective adding images to tweets is on Twitter, we applied the same logic to LinkedIn and began attaching images to our posts, as seen in the example below.

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Over the course of one month, we saw an 11% increase in organic engagements, which includes clicks, likes, comments, and shares. Many brands and individuals are still using the link preview format, which means attaching an image helps your post stand out.

Lesson Learned: Take a week or two to try attaching images to your LinkedIn posts instead of using their link preview format. LinkedIn analytics differentiate between image posts and link previews, which makes it easier to track your results.

5. Create Images that Tell What Your Post is About

Pretty images are nice to look at, but images that provide real value by capturing or telling what your post is about get more engagement. Consistently over the past three months, tweets that included images with text that portrayed details or major learnings about that piece of content outperformed tweets that had more general illustrations or were stock photos.

Here’s an example of what we mean:

This image tells a little bit more about the post, which when you’re limited to 140 characters, can make a big difference. Especially when people are flying through their feeds, an image that stands alone as something worth retweeting or liking will get you more engagement. This can be an illustration or text overlay that includes the title of your post, a quote, a data point, a summary or a teaser. If you’re lost on what to try, just check out what other companies are doing. Some good places to start are HubSpot, Buffer, and Hootsuite.

Lesson Learned: Take time to think about the image you’re including with your social post. It’s worth it to create an original illustration that’ll help your post provide immediate value up front for someone who’s quickly scrolling through their Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook feed. Need a hand creating an image? There are some great online resources that can help.

Have you tried any of these social media tactics before? What worked and what didn’t? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

  • Good post guys!

  • Thanks! It was fun to write, especially as a look back on some of our learnings from last year. Have you given any of these tactics a shot before?

  • This was actually useful and it makes sense!

  • Well I have not a big amount of customers to tweet/post facebook status to. But certainly what you wrote is true. The major issue is to involve those people that are coming from socials in order to have them partecipating in the thing (eg. posting on a blog post like we do now, posting on a thread in a forum, etc). I have a community and I was thinking on a cool way to add the Facebook comments code. So when I share my forum posts people will be able to comment even if they are logged/coming from FB. That way tehy will be spening at leat one minute more on the website writing a comment, and that would be really good, statistically speaking. The problem for me is “where” to put the Facebook comments code. At the top of the post? Below the quick-reply? jQury effect? It’s hard to find a good solution that works and it’s elegant. :)

  • This is great to hear! I’m glad you found the post helpful. Are you thinking about trying any of these tactics on your own social channels?

  • Agreed! Getting new visitors to your site is one thing, but retaining and converting that traffic (whatever your conversion metric might be, e.g. comments, newsletter sign-ups, etc.) is another. It sounds like you’ve got a good plan in the works with adding Facebook comments to your site!

  • Charles McNeill

    The “Social Sites Explained” graphic is a real treasure. Assuming this was created internally – Just wondering if you have considered:
    1. Adding a few more noteworthy ones such as SnapChat and WhatsApp
    2. Making a poster available of this, or maybe a hi-res PDF that people could print as a poster

  • Hi Charles, thanks so much for your feedback. An updated post with other networks, like the ones you mentioned, is a great idea that I’ll share with the team. While not SnapChat or WhatsApp, we do have a post on more niche social networks, which you can find here: http://www.addthis.com/academy/how-to-use-niche-social-networks-to-drive-traffic. Also, I’ll look into updating the version of that image as a PDF :)

  • Hi,
    Normally we add pictures on the twitter for the post for more engagement. Never knew that same trick applied to linkedin. It was useful. Let me try this trick on linkedin and check the result.

  • Great. Let us know how it goes!

  • sabiha hasan

    I tried buffer but result was OK as I was not targeting right time