Comparing Social Media Platforms

A couple of weeks ago we discussed with one of our customers whether the content for Facebook should differ from the content for VKontakte or Instagram. And if it should, then how. Since this topic is sooner or later brought up by every client, I think it's time to share our thoughts on this matter.

Naturally, if a company spends money on social media promotion, it wants to receive feedback and see the reaction of its audience. Users can respond to the company’s efforts with likes, shares, and comments. If there is no response, it’s also a result. Usually a negative one though.

In order to find out whether there should be a different social media strategy for each network, we conducted an experiment. For two month we posted the same content in three social networks, Facebook, VKontakte and Instagram, and meticulously recorded the stats: the reach of every post, the number of likes, shares and comments.

The types of content we tested:

  • Company news, reviews of new products, announcements, and promos;
  • Entertaining content (beautiful branded pictures, comic strips, quotes, handmade);
  • Engaging content (quizzes, surveys);

The results:

The most successful posts on Vkontakte were quizzes and surveys as well as comic strips and cheerful, positive, entertaining content. For example, this picture received reactions from 17% of our Vkontakte followers who saw it, while on Facebook it was 11%, and on Instagram 3.5%.

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Company news with useful info were received almost equally on all the three networks (4-5% of the reach).

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And the posts with cute pictures carefully styled by our designers were the most welcome on Facebook (6%) and Instagram ( 7%), while in Vkontakte the audience was quite passive towards them (1,5% of the reach).

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The ultimate leadership on Instagram belonged to food pics: 8-9% versus 2% on VKontakte and 6% on Facebook.

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Why is it so?

When users interact with content, it’s not just about demonstrating their attitude to it. People also show their values and preferences to others. By liking a beautiful picture you let other know that you have a taste in nice things. By sharing a romantic song you reveal your delicate nature. Have you noticed that we try to show different sides of our personality to different people? A manager would prefer their boss to see them as a focused business-minded person with lots of other professional qualities. So they are likely to repost business news, relevant information, articles on the development of professional skills. But with friends they will share a joke, a cartoon or a comic strip, a good movie, or a motivating quote - anything that they associate with their worldview. For relatives they will post emotional and cute pictures, advice on home affairs and parenting.

Audiences on different social networks overlap to some extent. You may be registered on Odnoklassniki, Facebook, VKontakte and Instagram, but your reaction to the content on each network is different. And if you know that most of your contacts on Facebook are business-related, you will carefully approach the choice of content to repost and won’t take the same liberties that would be appropriate when communicating with school friends on Odnoklassniki or Vkontakte.

Therefore, it’s not just the platform that ensures the success of the social media promotion of your brand. It’s also the content you will generate for it, and the way your audience will behave on this network.

Here is the outcome of our two-month experiment:

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With the current ratio of branded, entertaining and engaging posts we receive the lowest response rate from VKontakte, and the highest from Instagram. One more detail. We had similar reach and response rate both on Facebook and Instagram. However, due to the special ranking mechanism of Facebook most group members didn’t see our posts, so we had to buy targeted ads to increase the reach. Instagram, on the other hand, didn’t hide posts from users back then, so our organic reach there was better than on Facebook, even though we had fewer followers. Moreover, the Instagram interface is almost perfect when it comes to encouraging user activity. You scroll the feed with your thumb, it’s almost impossible to miss a post, and you like posts simply by double tapping the screen.

Don’t jump to conclusions

The experiment we carried out for the target audience of that company may produce a completely different outcome for a different audience. For example, any types of content from one of our clients are well-received by the audience on Vkontakte and ignored by users on other networks. The reason is Vkontakte is the most popular network in the city of our client.

That’s why I will continue to hammer home that effective social media promotion is the result of constant testing and strategy adjustments. Test your platforms and draw conclusions based on your research.

21 August 2017
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