Be careful about how much efforts you put on Twitter

After many experiments to increase engagement with brands on Twitter, I have collected enough evidence that Twitter is not worth much. From now on, the main focus of my social media marketing efforts will be other channels like Reddit, Hacker News, LinkedIn and other well targeted forums. My Twitter efforts are now down to the bottom of pile, down with Facebook (which doesn’t drive anything for the brands I’ve managed).

Massive increase in acquisition from social, most from Reddit and Hacker News

When I managed the launch of DreamHost DreamCompute, Twitter was a crucial part of the social media mix. We ran a small ad campaign on it with the objective to drive early signups to the cloud. Another ‘organic’ campaign revolved around  DreamCompute’s nomination as finalist in OpenStack Superuser Awards, with hashtag #makecloudgreatagain and a micro-site cloning what looked like a joke towards a political campaign (in hindsight, not funny). The results of the Twitter campaign were impressive by Twitter standards: lots of retweets and comments, DreamHost account gained new followers. But from the business indicators, we got almost nothing: the high Twitter engagement drove little spurs of traffic to web properties and no conversions. I blamed the website for being poorly optimized for conversion and concluded that Twitter can be useful to drive traffic and that call to actions need to be optimized for mobile in order to get business results.

In my next experiment at DreamHost I played with Hacker News. After a couple of attempts, I lucked out and got a blog post on HN front page for a few hours: that drove traffic! Lots of traffic and a much better conversion rate than other sources. I learned that the results/effort ratio is so much higher for Hacker News but hitting the front page is obviously a hit-and-miss.

Fast-forward a couple of years, I started a new social media experiment mix for Zenko . The results are in and LinkedIn, Reddit and Hacker News are a much bigger generator of traffic to our website than Twitter. For example, posts on LinkedIn either from the official Scality account or personal profilestend to have a long shelf life, opposed to the very very short live of tweets. New posts on Hacker News and Reddit are usually short lived, few hours but they tend to drive an insane amount of traffic, even if they’re not voted up at all. Also visitors from Reddit and HN tend to bounce less and read more than one page. The few visitors from Twitter instead have a high bounce rate and rarely go beyond one page visit.

My experience with Zenko and DreamCompute tells me that Twitter shouldn’t be the first social media channel but rather LinkedIn, Reddit and Hacker News are more worth the time. Twitter is something you have to play with and may only be worth it for real-time interactions, like during events to drive traffic to a booth or a speaking session.