The Status:Every Friday, HIV.gov conducts weekly social media monitoring to assess our “social media engagement.” This practice recently alerted us to a change in our Twitter following. Until the end of July 2015, we were gaining an average of 5,000 - 6,000 new followers each month (a number that accounts for followers we lose each month as well). However, in August we started to experience a sharp drop-off in new followers.
We were curious to know what was happening, so we did what we encourage others to do: homework.
- Our activity on Twitter has remained consistent. The number of tweets hasn’t changed, we continue to share information relevant to our mission, and we’ve maintained our “voice.”
- Despite the decrease in the number of new followers, our "engagement rate" (i.e., other people’s interactions with our tweets, such as retweets, replies, favorites, clicks, and mentions) remains steady at 1% across all tweets. While this may sound low, it’s on the higher side for what generally occurs on Twitter.
- Finally, Twitter seemed to be our only social media channel experiencing this change. As we cross-promote our content, our presence on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube continues to grow.
- We read - a lot - to learn if there was anything happening behind the scenes at Twitter that might play a role in the change we were seeing.
- We checked with others with large numbers of followers (more than 300K) and learned we were not alone. Beginning in August, others had experienced similar decreases in new followers.
- We asked for help from Twitter to assess, and they are reviewing what may have caused this change. We will share with you what we learn.
- We continue to educate ourselves on new features, such as Moments and Twitter Polls, as they become available
Sharing lessons learned:
- It’s important to routinely monitor your digital presence.
- The digital landscape is continually evolving. We need to adapt the way we engage with the our followers via the channel in response to changes in the landscape. Tracking your activity and the social media landscape is essential to doing that.
- Being transparent about challenges can turn into a collaborative learning opportunity!
The most important lesson: It’s not all about the numbers. Follower engagement and focusing on our primary audiences is the true goal for our social media presence. But we need to understand significant trends that affect our users and the interaction that we have with them through social media platforms like Twitter.“Keeping a close eye on our social media followers on Twitter , Facebook, and elsewhere, and—more important—the conversation, allows us to monitor what and how people are talking about HIV, and make sure that we are sharing content that is not only interesting to us, but also relevant to our audience.” – Jennie Anderson, Greater Than AIDSWe will continue to share as we learn more about this. If you’ve experienced a similar trend and have developed solutions, we’d like to hear from you too. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us via direct message on Twitter @AIDSgov