By the Numbers: "Social Networks- An experiment with Deviantart "

For those who hate Analytics, I would like to show you how you can use it to test different ideas and for those who are social network lightweights like me, how it still can be useful to you in evaluating your marketing efforts and the use of your time on these networks.

Disclaimer

I am not a social media star. I don’t have a high enough output, court controversy, or look to do anything risky online.   I simply acquire connections by sheer endurance online.

I  have a fairly conservative approach to self-promotion using my social platform tools compared to others.   I’m not aggro-tweeting or reposting stuff on an hourly basis or even on repeat on a daily basis. (I find authors who do this to be extremely annoying, so I won’t do this myself!)   I use my networks to do  a one time notice more or less so the payoff is not as good as someone who makes PR on media a high priority for themselves.

So the approach to this post will be a little bit more oriented to drilling down on what happened after I decided to test something out on one social network.

So where did I start?

If you go to “Traffic Sources” in your panel and then click on the “Social” tab, you’ll find six different elements to explore. Of these, I’ll only touch on “Network Referrals” and possibly “Visitor Flow” because I’m certainly not set-up to take advantage of some of the other options.

For those of you who are trying to weigh out the success/utility of your past efforts on social media, the “Network Referrals” panel can be an interesting measurement tool.  For example, if I were to look at almost two years worth of data that Google offers and can get over the references to Social networks I’ve never heard of, the obvious thing to examine is the role of Deviantart in reading of the serial.

There is bad news in these stats.  I generated a trend map covering the period of time I launched the serial until the end of 2012. It’s pretty obvious 2012 traffic just complete outright died.  (For a bigger view, try this link.)

Honestly, my relationship with Deviantart has waxed and waned over the years.  When I launched the website late September I was fairly faithful to Deviantart. I talked about the serial in my journals and new picturesI was creating.  Last year I stayed off DA except to post photos and the random notice about conventions. [Hey. I like photography.]    After looking at this graph while preparing this post, I realize this behavior was not particularly good for my story. One might argue that while the traffic is very small on a daily basis I’ve potentially lost out on several hundred visits in 2012.

There is a caveat though behind all this. Deviantart has been on an appreciable decline amongst artists the past few years.  Most artists have migrated over to Tumblr as of late it would seem, but as Tumblr is also not lit-friendly it is hard for me to conceptualize how this platform can help a primarily text based serial.

Literature has never really taken off on DA, namely because there are better places for discovery.

However, looking at the broad two year view on Deviantart I thought prior to posting I should test this again to see what the impact of engaging might be.

The experiment

This past week I conducted a small experiment this past week by posting an ‘update” on the serial and news on an upcoming convention in my “Deviantart Journal” (see here) as well as as the intro segment of the story here.

The posting of the intro to the literature category yielded only 29 views as of this morning. This is comparably bad to some of my art works posted in the past six months. (Depending on what it is, I see a hundred up to a thousand views on the image.)

And yet, views are not a metric of engagement.  

The below stats are from January 1-12, also obtained from Analytics “Network Traffic” feature.   The traffic push through directly from DA is modest compared to Facebook (where I posted a weekly update link on Sun/Monday).   That said, the average pages per visit and visit duration are good news.

.

Facebook is not a surprise as it is simply a page that announces updates to existing fans.  However, it remains a fairly passive feeder of traffic in spite of my neglect for that page. (My twitter and Facebook continue to spar, so I have been erratic in my posting of updates.)

The other surprises, of course, would be Goodread and Twitter.  While of course these sites have yielded a very low number of visits, the quality of the visit (proxied by pages per visit and average visit duration) seem encouraging.  .

Visitor Flow – Not for me, but maybe good for you

Regarding “Visitor Flow” it’s simply worth noting that Analytics does something nice in a canned report.  This is hard to replicate on your own actually. You can certainly get a good hint at how people enter from a site and how long they stay and what percent exit immediately… but this kind of view tells you what happens on a more detailed level.  If you can’t access the big view below, btw, feel free to click to the image directly.

 Right now, it’s not something that I benefit from because I tend to push the top level page as a landing page for the most part.  Seeing it drilled down isn’t necessary. However, for those of you with multiple stories /projects listed on an entry page, this might be worth exploring further.

As far as general next steps for me, I think I’m going to continue to experiment with Deviantart in 2013 when I generate new artwork for the next story and try to maintain a journal presence. I’m on the fence on actual posting of the installments.

That supposed blog on Devices

I’m going to skip the Device data blog as the next report.  After looking at the data, the conclusion I drew was simply this. “People are using a lot of tablets to read this story and wow, more people have tablets specifically iOS tablets.”

In thinking about how that is important, the main issue for me about devices is more about how people might be viewing your website through different web tools that behave very differently and could mess up navigation and reading experience for potential readers.

This should be a much broader topic for a post.  And yes, I’ll consider talking about this soon.

Until next time…

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