Lessons from an Instagram takeover

Posted 14 Aug

Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 2.48.18 pm

Written by Braden Robinson

Lesson 1: Social media users are fickle and unpredictable

Coming into my two week experience, I did not know what to expect or whether I would be useful to the MOD. team in their takeover of the @52Museums Instagram account. Having completed my two weeks here, I am still not sure if what I did was helpful or effective. But I suppose that is the nature of social media marketing. All the numbers and information supporting a post or an event can say it should receive x amount of views and engagement, but the moment you are swiped past, it could all mean nothing. In my two weeks here I have seen events thrive and events struggle, having both received equal time, effort, and money.

One lesson my experience has taught me is effort does not always equal results, and, in the area of social media marketing, it isn’t always clear why. The nature of university courses are to tell you that ‘doing x will increase your outreach because of y and z’. Two weeks with the MOD. marketing team has taught me this isn’t always the case, and it can be difficult to find out why.

Lesson 2: Instagram is a challenging platform

The attention span of social media users is incredibly small when swiping through content, especially Snapchat or Instagram stories. One tap or swipe, and you’re forgotten about. I figured this out very quickly when my first story post had an exit percentage of 10.6%. I had taken notes on previous stories on the @52Museums account and noted what I found to be compelling and interesting, and applied them to the post. But still, one swipe was all it took for the 10.6% who exited the story.

From the first series of posts, I tailored my stories to suit a time-deprived, attention-lacking viewer by posting less information and more aesthetically pleasing photography. This change was immediately reflected in the following day. The second day showed a drop in the exit percentage (from 4.6% to 2.1%) and an increase in the number of engagements in posts, with one photo receiving 4 shares. In the end, the average for all my posts was a 2.8% exit percentage. Only one other of my posts receives any shares, and just 1 at that.

I learned very quickly that Instagram is a visual medium. While there are a lot of text heavy posts, engagement is cultivated through aesthetically pleasing imagery.

Lesson 3: More views or better views?

Views of MOD.’s stories on @52museums
Engagement with polls on MOD.’s stories @52museums

Here are two graphs which show while views on my stories went down, engagement in the polls went up. This raises the question: are more views better than less views with more engagement? My original task was to attempt to showcase MOD. and their exhibits, while making fun and interactive stories. Seeing the views on the stories decline led me to believe that I wasn’t achieving the goal. However, as the engagement continued to rise, I realised I did achieve the goal, just tailored to an audience who actively seek to engage with posts, rather than mindlessly flip through stories. Without any specific benchmarks to hit or targets to reach, it’s difficult to say how successful this exercise was. But in my opinion, engagement is a better indicator of outreach than total views.

Final thoughts

Overall I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. Being able to work so closely with all the MOD. marketing team and see what goes in to each project has given me a perspective that university courses can’t offer. I have learnt that social media marketing is a challenging and difficult field to understand, but the challenge of an ever-changing discipline which may never fully be understood intrigues me. I hope to work in this field in the future as I see myself enjoying the line of work. If not, I know the experiences and lessons I have learned in my two weeks here will help shape my career path and help me greatly in my future of marketing.

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