Sunday, June 9, 2013

Self-Promotion on Social Media - Survey Results

(Originally published at in July 2012.)

Good evening! It's been another overly-full week, but last weekend at Polaris and the monthly Chiaroscuro Reading Series event were well worth cramming in everything else. More on those events later. Right now I'd like to share some of the results of Beverly's Unscientific Survey of Social Media Preference. I have the survey questions and results discussion after the break. Also, be sure to see the comments section, which has some great comments.

I got 80 replies to the following questions:

1. How often do you use Twitter?
  • Daily
  • 2-3 times per week
  • Once per week
  • 2-3 times per month
  • Once per month
  • Less frequently than once per month
2. In the last month have you re-shared someone else's tweet on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform? (i.e. retweet, share, RT, MT, QT, etc.)
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not Sure
3. Have you ever followed someone on Twitter and received an automated reply, whether by direct message (DM) or by an @ message?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not Sure
4. If you received an automated message, what was your emotional reaction?
  • Happy
  • Pleased
  • Amused
  • Indifferent
  • Irritated
  • Angry
  • N/A
  • Other (Please Specify)
5. Did you take any action as a result of the automated response?
  • Replied to message
  • Read message but took no action
  • Ignored message
  • Deleted message
  • Unfollowed the sender of the message
  • N/A
  • Other (please specify)
6. What is your impression of Twitter users that use automated/robot replies? (This does not include personal messages, only automated ones.) Choose the best one even if you agree with more than one.
  • Professional
  • Savvy
  • Smart
  • Cool
  • Interesting
  • Nice
  • Reasonable
  • Rude
  • Uneducated
  • Uninteresting
  • Lacking etiquette
  • Unprofessional
  • N/A
  • Other (please specify)
7. Do you follow or like any pages in Facebook or Google Plus? Pages here being defined as brand pages, author pages, movie pages, blog pages - *not* a personal profile.
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure
8. If you do like or follow a page on Facebook or Google+, what kind of information do you *best* like to receive from that page? (Please choose only the best one, even if you agree with more than one.)
  • News about the company
  • News about the product (including books, blog posts and movies)
  • News about an *unrelated* company, author, movie, etc.
  • General news items (like current events)
  • Fun visual items (funny or clever pictures, animations, videos, etc.)
  • Fun written items (jokes, clever blog posts, sayings, quotes, etc.)
  • Surveys
  • Games
  • N/A
  • Other (please specify)
9. Have you ever unfollowed or un-liked a page on *any one or more* of Twitter, Facebook or Google+?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Not sure
10. If you have unfollowed or un-liked a page on *any one or more* of Twitter, Facebook or Google+, choose the best reason below, even if you agree with more than one.
  • Too much content about the brand or product (including blogs, books, movies, etc.)
  • Too little content about the brand or product (including blogs, books, movies, etc.)
  • Not enough useful content about the brand or product (including blogs, books, movies, etc.)
  • Too much content about *unrelated* brands or products (including blogs, books, movies, etc.)
  • Too many fun/silly posts
  • Not enough fun/silly posts
  • Too many games
  • Too many surveys
  • Too much content in general (i.e. clogs stream)
  • N/A
  • Other (please specify)
As far as survey design. I've never done it before, and I see several flaws in the way I worded and structured the survey. I could have made better use of my limited survey questions for sure. I also think I have too many areas for free text. Free text replies often fit quite neatly into something I'd already set forth as a category, though I definitely like having some free text. Context can mean a lot, and some of the replies were insightful or funny - or both.

Anyhow, here are the important results. I think questions like "how often do you use Twitter" for example turned out to be pretty useless, so I don't include things like that here. The pie charts are from the presentation I gave at Polaris on this topic, "Self-Promotion on Social Media: Tips, Tricks and Cautionary Tales".

Here is the breakdown for "In the last month have you retweeted or re-shared?"

This is important because it shows that most users are sharing content that they find on social media. 

The next one is about the emotions that resulted from receiving an automated/robot DM. I focused this question on Twitter since it is most prevalent there, but I wish I'd asked it about all platforms.

This was an interesting one because not only were there results here that showed fully half or people responding to this question were indifferent, but that a large minority were irritated. There were also some interesting text replies for this one. Here's a sample (emphasis mine): 
Negative association. It's impersonal, and frequently common to users who are marketing rather than communicating
Meh. I dislike them. Usually used to push a service which makes me want to go unfollow them immediately. I believe it can be done well, but usually isn't.
It's answers like these that helped me solidify my opinion that social media are first and foremost social, which implies give and take, back and forth. Communication is no longer a linear process, after all. 

This chart is of the answers to "Did you take any action as a result of the automated response?"

This one shows that only one person out of all of the possible choices, actually replied. Most effectively ignored the message ("ignored message" and "read but took no action") but a few deleted them and the same number of people unfollowed. One of the text replies fit into the "unfollow" category as well. I thought this was very important, because it shows the cost of pushy communication. One reply for indifference and actual loss of audience. 

This chart is one of the most important in the survey results. It is the breakdown of people's impressions of users who use automated direct messages/replies on Twitter.

This one is especially interesting because I gave a large range of options, equally distributed over positive qualities and negative qualities. The list on the left shows all the choices that no one chose. Note that they are all the "nice" qualities. A few kind replies among the responses, two saying "savvy", three saying "reasonable" but the rest were all the negative qualities listed, with the winner being "lacking etiquette". Think a few people are missing from this pie chart? You may be right. This answer had a heavy free text reply result. Here are all of the text replies, in a few cases condensed where people's answers were similar: 
Lazy and indifferent/Lazy
Conceited and stupid
Spam/Spammy/Endless Spamming
I believe it can be done well, but usually isn't.
Dude, you just don't get it, do you?
Unless you're George Takei, it's rarely necessary
It depends on the nature of the auto reply
Convinced of their own celebrity
All of the replies are valuable, but as before I've emphasized replies I thought were of particular interest. Once again we see that a push or broadcast isn't well-received. 

This is the last chart, and it's for the "why did you unfollow/unsubscribe" question:

This is another question where I wish I'd worded the replies differently. I ended up grouping most of the "too much" responses together into one, because ultimately they were. The text replies showed me that I'd worded the question badly, which is why I chose to combine them in the visual examination here. The lesson? You really don't need to tweet all day or post on Facebook frequently. Twitter is ephemeral, sure, but three or four times a day for one message is enough in almost all cases. Facebook? Post it once. Facebook and Google+ posts live a bit longer in people's streams, so there's less need for repetition. 

My conclusion is that social media functions as a conversation. If you're just blathering on and not listening or reacting or sharing with others, you're missing the point and turning off potential customers/readers/viewers/listeners. It's OK if growth is a bit slower than you like. The number of followers and subscribers and likes isn't really as important as engaging the audience you already have and being social and conversational in the process of finding new ones. 

So is social media free? I don't think we should think of it as free at all. The time investment can be costly and should be figured into the process. If you don't have time for a conversation, now may not be the time for you to use social media for your promotional purposes.

There was a lot more to my presentation last weekend, but I have an upcoming podcast where I get into more detail, so keep an eye out for that if you want more. I look forward to reading your thoughts and opinions in the comment section.

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