Here’s an example of how I optimize posts for Facebook. Although we can’t know the exact engagement numbers of our competitors in the affiliate sphere on social, we *can* compare performance to the best of our knowledge by simulating the packaging (headline and thumbnail) of their posts for the exact same product(s) we’ve both written about and slapping it on top of our own posts through Ads Manager. This way, we can get an idea of how the post would perform organically if we used their packaging without having to risk wasting real estate on our pages.
And the difference speaks for itself. The Social Variant 2018 packaging drove 1544.65% more traffic (that’s over 16.4x) than a competitor variant in the same span of time that the campaign was active. They all played by the same rules and had the same targeting to have the most meritocratic judgement possible.
(This was just on paid/dark-posting. Trying to compare organically brings in a whole set of problems like audience fatigue, FB algorithm penalties on repeated content, time and day, etc that complicates meritocratic performance. But I think the difference is drastic enough to confirm that our packaging strategy is headed in the right direction and would elicit similar gaps in performance.)
I take a lot of factors into consideration when crafting the packaging for a post, whether it’s for news, evergreen, or affiliate content. Affiliate presents its own unique challenges and nuances, and if a competitor catches on and tries to do what we do on a surface level, it’ll take time and scar tissue to understand the “why” and “how” behind our decisions. Right now, we’re at least a year, if not two years, ahead of what competitors are doing on Facebook.
If it isn’t already evident, I hate lazy packaging more than anything. I think nearly every publisher is leaving free traffic, engagement, and money on the table right now because they don’t care or don’t know how to actually optimize a post for social audiences. When I say “optimize”, I don’t mean the targeting or timing or anything like that. I mean the actual presentation of the post itself. You can have all the external factors narrowed down to a T, but if you don’t have something captivating to actually strategize around, then so what?
So I experiment a lot. We’re constantly testing and trying to push the edge of social engagement for affiliate posts on social media. I’ve ran tons of failed tests, but the learnings from the big winners pay for thousands of those failed experiments. These efforts, experiments, and pulses on the constantly changing ecosystem of social media contribute to BuzzFeed’s current dominance in referral traffic to the top 100 shopping sites.
Do I have to sit down and chisel some tokens out of copper or something?
“Sorry we don’t accept card”
Okay yeah great I’ll just go fuck myself and hop on my Razr scooter so I can fax my bank to send me some shekels by pigeon.
While I’m at this:
May is the best month, followed closely by September.
Ted from HIMYM sucks major ass.
Calling is superior to texting.
And cards are more important than cash.
Thank you for reading my #gr8 content at caleb chin dot com.
*”but muh fees/chargeback vulnerability” my rebuttal to that and any response is that this is my website, and I can say what I want. 😤
The best experience I had in college was when the University of Kansas’s department of Marketing Communications approached me to join their social media team*.
It’s not just because it opened the doors for me into professional social media or that I finally got to tweet from @KUnews. Rather, it gave me my first real exposure to working with a tightly integrated group of highly competent people who are genuinely passionate about what they do (that’s wordy and could probably be articulated better. Whatever. I’ll edit this later). A personal goal I’ve always had is to surround myself with great people that I can learn from and I’ve found few work environments rivaling that of 1314 Jayhawk Boulevard.
If you zoom out and ask “Why does KU’s social media see higher engagement compared to other Big 12 universities? Why do they get more likes/retweets/favorites/etc?”, what would the answer be? It would be because the social media teams of other colleges don’t understand their audiences. If you really look at KU’s social media, its strategy has a huge focus on engagement and looking ahead (a good example of this is the revamped emphasis on GIFs. I remember my boss predicting way back in March that GIFs were in their ascendancy on social media. Adweek later confirmed our gamble in June). We wanted to publish great content, and only great content. That requires people who are willing to stay in the office past five, meaningful collaboration, and most importantly saying “no” to a lot of ideas instead of publishing every single thing. One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is flooding an audience with dozens of posts, tweets, and pictures that are mediocre at best.
When you look at universities from other conferences and their rivals, it looks very similar. The usual suspects will try to copy what the better social media team does and it will take them some time. Maybe they’ll get close but often their content is still uninspiring and the strategy looks at least a year behind because if they really cared they would do more than the bare minimum. A big red flag is when a brand/company doesn’t even create their own visual content (e.g. images, infographics, GIFs). That’s why KU enjoys the success it does in social media. It’s a lot of creative A-grade players that genuinely care about publishing relevant social media content for their audience.
I graduated from KU in May and my student employee eligibility status maxed out in July. Since that time I’ve looked around at social media jobs for brands and companies in between client work and realized something important. I had made the mistake of applying to dozens of places without investigating their social media profiles. It turns out many of these institutions will often have a huge following but no engagement. Why? Nine times out of ten it’s because their content is uninspiring and it really, really shows**.
Part of me wonders if I should have accepted their job offers but after working with a team of A-grade players, who would want to go back to potentially working with B-grade or C-grade players? I know I have a lot more to learn so I only look at places where I think the people are passionate and I can grow under their tutelage.
*This is actually one of my favorite stories. Maybe I’ll make a post about it when it’s not 5 am.
**It also doesn’t help that buying likes/followers is a frictionless process
- Implemented a custom social media strategy to generate attention towards the site
- Featured on numerous media outlets, including KCTV, KBWCH, 6 News Lawrence, Lawrence Journal-World, and the Derby Informer
- Projects with clients have achieved similar results, with another website achieving 30,000 hits within 24 hours of launch
— Jonathan Shorman (@jonshorman) June 4, 2015
— Abbie Hodgson (@abbiehodgson) June 5, 2015
— Kale B (@thecalebchin) June 5, 2015
— Lisa D'Souza (@lisa__dsouza) June 5, 2015
— Lawrence Journal-World (@LJWorld) June 5, 2015
— Kale B (@thecalebchin) June 5, 2015
— MidcoSN (@MidcoSNKansas) June 5, 2015
— 41 Action News (@41actionnews) June 6, 2015
— Alyson Bruner (@AlysonBruner) June 8, 2015
I obsess over crafting content in such a way that it resonates with readers. Whether it’s agonizing over headlines and post text for clicks versus shares, meticulously editing images, or strategizing its execution, curating content for social media is one of the most exciting things to do. I’m fortunate that I get to work in an exciting industry that’s constantly evolving and keeps me on my toes.
My most successful projects have generated half a million hits within a week of launch without any paid advertising. Through years of social media experience, a knack for nailing the voice of a brand on any social platform, and aggressive analytics research.
Some of my proudest accomplishments are revamping Business Insider’s Instagram account to where it still to this day flourishes on the platform by adhering to the strategy I set in place and packaging ATTN:’s most trafficked article in its history, driving millions of hits in less than 24 hours.
- Increased the e-commerce team’s average monthly earnings by 39.6%, average earnings per day by 43.6%, and exceeded holiday revenue goals by upwards of 40% by improving organic affiliate post performance on Facebook through close collaboration with the Market team and aggressively researching our audience’s buying behavior, post and product performance on social, and A/B testing headlines and thumbnails
- Integrated learnings from Social and the Market team to implement the first paid social campaign between the two teams with early experiments yielding ROI’s over 150% within the first 10 days
- Create social-friendly videos for multiple Facebook pages which have accumulated over 212.8 million views
- Curate and strategize rollout of affiliate marketing posts on Facebook across 20+ pages, including BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed Video, Nifty Home, As/Is, Food, Parents, Health, Tasty, Nifty, Goodful, SOML, and Bring Me by optimizing images, thumbnails and headlines for different audiences
- Directly manage all link posting strategy on Buy Me That, Nifty Home, Parents, and Nifty
- Managed BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed Video’s Facebook page on weekends, consistently surpassing traffic goals by an average of 8% and remaining on call in case of breaking news
- Curated ATTN:’s most trafficked article in its history, driving millions of hits in less than 24 hours
- Led a team of 3 to successfully implement ATTN:’s “Where Is The Love?” Twitter campaign strategy with the Black-Eyed Peas, which outperformed other tweets in engagement by 218%
- Managed, edited, and curated content to grow ATTN:’s presence on social media platforms
- Used news judgement and social analytics to package stories with optimized headlines and thumbnails so they best resonated with our diverse audiences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat
- Provided coverage during breaking news and live events, including assisting writers with gathering, verifying, and confirming social content
AT BUSINESS INSIDER:
- Grew Instagram audience by 18%, average like per picture by 73%, and the most liked media by 40% in less than three weeks of full creative control by analyzing our audience engagement, framing content to align with a revamped strategy, and aggressively researching optimal posting behavior. Business Insider still iterates upon the strategy’s core findings today.
- Curated and scheduled content across our social media platforms to a daily audience reach of over 15 million in order to boost engagement and drive traffic to BI’s website
- Increased BI Politics Facebook Page Likes by 291% and people reached by 315%, BI Entertainment Facebook Page Likes by 7% and people reached by 45%, and BI Science Facebook Page Likes by 109% and people reached by 155% in the month of March
With experience in breaking news and evergreen content, I felt I had reached a point where I had a strong understanding of the flow of virality in social media. What I didn’t understand yet was the flow of money, how to leverage social media to generate money. Although I had no prior experience with e-commerce, I transitioned from managing news, celeb, and evergreen content to bridging the gap between BuzzFeed’s Facebook pages and BuzzFeed’s shopping team through organic social. I’ve since merged my experience between the two teams as the sole social media strategist in this unique role to test the water in the next natural step: paid social media. I’ve integrated social and affiliate marketing learnings to implement the first paid social campaign between the two BuzzFeed teams with early experiments yielding ROI’s over 150% within the first 10 days.