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Social media makes breakups harder for consumers

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While previous studies have explored how social media can make users feel excluded by their friends, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that it can also make users feel worse after a breakup.

According to the researchers, social media platforms have made it harder than ever for users to get distance from relationships that have recently ended. These platforms can serve as a constant reminder of what ex-partners are up to — including forming new relationships. Moreover, the researchers found that utilizing tools to block, mute, or unfriend exes didn’t make things better.

“Before social media, break-ups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person,” said researcher Anthony Pinter. “It can almost make it impossible to move on if you are constantly bombarded with reminders in different places online.”

Why it’s so hard to move on

The researchers had 19 people involved in the study, all of whom had experienced the end of a relationship in the last 18 months and had a poor experience with social media after the breakup.

The participants were interviewed for over an hour each about their social media use after their breakup. They answered questions about how the internet contributed, either positively or negatively, to their coping.

The researchers learned that there were several features — particularly on Facebook — that made it difficult for consumers to get distance from their exes and move on from their past relationships. Participants were frequently reminded of their relationship bliss via the Memories feature, which calls up pictures, videos, and posts from past years, making it harder for social media users to put that part of their lives behind them.

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Moreover, Facebook made it nearly impossible for the study participants to ignore their former partners’ life updates, as the News Feed is a constant reminder of things going on with a person they no longer want to be updated on. And while this could be a way for users to upload a new profile picture or share news about a job, it could also be the way to share a new relationship, making it all the more difficult for exes to move on.

Unfriending isn’t the answer

While Facebook, like several social media platforms, gives users the option to block, unfriend, or mute others, the researchers learned that these tools weren’t enough for the participants.

“A lot of people make the assumption that they can just unfriend their ex or unfollow them and they are not going to have to deal with this anymore,” Pinter said. “Our work shows that this is not the case.”

He explained that exes’ information can pop up via comments or likes from mutual friends or in mutual groups, or even from their family members or friends who haven’t been unfriended. This can leave heartbroken consumers with constant reminders of their lives pre-breakup.

While these tools certainly aren’t going to rid exes from consumers’ social media profiles, Pinter suggests using them anyway, as they can offer some peace of mind when a relationship ends. Perhaps most importantly, he says staying off social media for a while can work wonders while consumers process their feelings.

“In real life, you get to decide who gets the cat and who gets the couch, but online it’s a lot harder to determine who gets this picture or who gets this group,” Pinter said.

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Does Posting Memes on Social Help to Increase Traffic to Your Website? [Study]

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Does Posting Memes on Social Help to Increase Traffic to Your Website? [Study]

Does posting memes help to increase traffic to your website?

This is a key question, which really relates to all kinds of engaging social media posts – because while these types of trending updates very clearly garner Likes and comments, do they actually benefit the stats that really matter to your business?

I mean, Likes and followers are great, but what you need is conversions, relative to what that means for your business. For SMT, we’re working to get as many people to read our posts as possible, and as you’ve likely noticed, we’ve recently been trying out memes as a way to boost engagement, and see what that gets us in this respect.

So what have we found? Here’s a quick overview of the initial results of our meme experiment.

First, a quick bit of background…

We’re always looking to try new things, and test out the latest trends and processes, and not just because it might help us generate more traffic and build community, but also, because that’s what we write about. If we’re going to write about it, we need to know and understand it as much as possible, in order to ensure that what we’re communicating is correct, and makes sense for our audience.

In this respect, we’re always testing new approaches, apps, tools, etc.

In terms of posting, last year, we tried out polls on Twitter and LinkedIn, and question posts on Facebook, to see if they would help drive more engagement. And they definitely did – these types of audience-prompting updates garnered a heap of Likes and comments. But when we cross-checked this against Google Analytics tracking, we didn’t see a big uptick in sessions or users visiting the site.

That’s not to say that these aren’t valuable, but they weren’t shifting the needle in any significant way on our key metrics. At the same time, too many polls can get annoying. In our experience, they’re an interesting tool to use, in moderation, but not a massive driver of our ultimate aims.

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Yet, at the same time, our social traffic, like all platforms, tends to have ups and downs – and in a down period this year, we decided to try something new to freshen up the feed and give our audience something else to engage with, and maybe lighten the mood a little at the same time.

Enter memes

The inspiration in this instance came from SEMRush, who’ve also tested out memes as a means to boost engagement, and build community.

SEMRush’s experience saw them significantly increase their social engagement by posting timely, on-trend, niche memes. So we thought we’d give it a try, to see if that helps drive more interest in our articles.

The first step, of course, is creating relevant, engaging memes. Which is not always easy. Many of our memes never made it out of test phase, with some clearly failing when viewed in the templates.

Some that we’ve posted also haven’t connected in the way that we’d hoped.

But this is the game – if you’re going to post memes, you’re going to have hits and duds, and you just have to live with it. I imagine it’s the same as a comedian, some of the jokes work, some don’t. But ideally, more of them get a laugh than not.

Which, luckily, our memes have.

On average, the memes that we’ve posted are generating around 135 Likes on Facebook, which has helped them generate significantly more reach than our average post, while they’re also performing strong on both Twitter and LinkedIn.

And they’re fun. The way I view them is like the comic section of the traditional newspaper, a light-hearted moment between the news updates and informational elements.

The increased engagement obviously has some benefits in boosting algorithmic reach (if people engage with one of your posts, the algorithm is more likely to show them more), as well as building community around the SMT brand. But the key question is – ‘do they actually get more people clicking through to the site?’

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Results

In our case, when comparing our overall social media performance against the previous 3 months before we started posting memes, we’ve seen a 12% increase in sessions from social, and a 16% increase in users.

That’s not a massive shift, but when you’re working with the ebbs and flows of referral traffic, as well as changes in analytics due to shifting data regulations, any increase is positive, and a double-digit jump is definitely worth the effort.

This is only around a month of data, so it’s not definitive, and there are also other factors to consider that could influence the results. But the numbers, thus far, suggest that it is worth sticking with – and as noted, it’s fun too, adding a little more relatability to our presence, as opposed just the latest news.

A few other notes:

  • Some commenters are going to take your memes literally, no matter it is that you post. There’ll always be a couple of comments like ‘well, actually, the reality is that…’ Yes. We know. These are not meant to be literal, they’re a moment of light-heartedness in amongst our regular, marketing strategy-focused news updates.
  • We’ve found that more general memes work better than trending ones. A couple of memes where we’ve tried to tap into news events, like the changes to Twitter verification, haven’t done as well as jokes about more common social media marketing experiences. This also, of course, relates to the memes themselves, and whether they’re actually funny, but in several examples, trending topics haven’t been as big a hit.
  • Every meme is a bit of a risk. You’re trying to find commonalities with your audience, and some things that you might think are common might not resonate. You need to know your niche, and know your community, which takes some experimentation – and a lot of research (I’ve been writing about social media trends for eight years)
  • One guy on LinkedIn keeps saying that he’s envious that we’re able to get these memes approved by management. For those that don’t know, SMT is an editorial team of two (2) people. Approval, in this sense, isn’t exactly a barrier.
  • Does it take a long time to come up with them? Not really. We usually do them in batches or around 10 at a time, then schedule them out on different days/times across FB, Twitter and LinkedIn. We can make 10 or so in, maybe, a couple of hours, once every week and a half or so. Not a major commitment.
  • We’re currently scheduling around one meme a day on each platform, again, taking that newspaper comic approach. Maybe we miss a day here and there, but that’s the general aim, as something to keep that engagement flowing, and keep the entertainment value up.
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Look, it’s not necessarily a walk in the park to keep coming up with funny memes – and it may be that we run out of ideas at some stage and suddenly it becomes a lot more difficult. It’s also not for everyone. Coming up with a (relatively) clever joke that fits a meme template doesn’t always come easy, and there are days when you just don’t have it, no matter how hard you stare at the screen.

But for a minor time commitment, it does seem, at least at this stage, like this may be a good way to help engage your audience, which can also drive direct traffic benefits.

We’ll post another overview of our meme experience three months in.

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