This semester marks the end of my four years as a University of Wollongong student, and while reflecting on this fact during the mid-year break, I began picturing my life post-University and considering what I wanted it to look like. One thing I was sure of was that I wanted to continue to pursue a career in social media marketing and event management, and that this would entail the continual building of my portfolio to stand out amongst other applicants in such a competitive industry.
As my current subjects each require the creation, curation and communication of a personal project over the course of the semester, I elected to continue my existing project Listen Loud, established in mid-2020, as I felt a long-term piece of work that demonstrates continued development as a result of user feedback would be more valuable to my portfolio than multiple, unrelated projects with short lifespans (Module 1.1 Thinking; Module 1.4 Ideating). This project also combines my passions for music and social media management, and allows me to address issues I had previously encountered or observed in prior subjects to improve the overall quality of my work. Hence, I was really excited to pick up Listen Loud where I left off following a brief hiatus in early 2021.
As a result of my break from posting earlier in the year, I had lost a number of followers across each of my social platforms, which was to be expected. As such, getting back into it, my primary focus was on rebuilding and expanding the Listen Loud community while maintaining a consistent posting schedule. This would be measured firstly through the number of followers and likes across each of my active platforms, in addition to each platform’s engagement rate which would indicate the number of active users. I also took this opportunity to revamp my existing post templates both for aesthetic value and to maximise the space taken up in viewers’ feeds.
Originally, I was sharing Listen Loud content and updates across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, SoundCloud, Reddit, Redbubble and LinkedIn. However, aside from the fact managing so many individual platforms was taking too much time and attention from my primary focus (i.e., my music blog), many of these channels simply did not produce any valuable insights beyond the relative lack of relevant users on those platforms. At the time, this was largely responsible for my decline in motivation as the semester progressed, and so, one of the major changes implemented this semester was the reduced number of social platforms to just two: Facebook and Instagram. In addition to being the two platforms I wanted to focus my future career on, each platform contributed significantly to the development of Listen Loud as they generated the highest level of engagement and had the greatest reach (Module 1.2 Observing). Upon beginning my latest project iteration, my three core platforms are as follows.
Before I could begin producing content, I also reflected on my target audience, or the people I felt would find value in engaging with my project. I had developed a starter pack when I originally proposed my project to help visualise the types of people I was aiming at, though I felt this needed to be refined to better reflect my current understanding of those for whom my content was produced (Module 1.3 Defining). Some of the biggest changes included identifying the platforms my users were most active on (being Facebook and Instagram), other competitor sites or publications they engaged with, and more aesthetic elements which would tie in with my minimalistic and consistent Instagram grid layout, as I’d noticed the majority of publications in this scene had messy grids with no distinct theme or branding. This also expanded to my website, which was simple, uncluttered and easy to navigate, unlike many others I’d reviewed such as Wall of Sound.
In addition to my methodology and starter packs, I also felt my pitch presentation was of a significantly higher quality than my original version from Spring 2020. While I had covered all of the previous information in my latest video, I had backed it up with extensive research and statistics that offered a clear method for measuring my success throughout the semester. I also acknowledged previous downfalls of my project and proposed ways to address and overcome these in this new iteration. Each of my pitch presentations has been included below to highlight how my approach and goals for Listen Loud have evolved as I have progressed through the Digital and Social Media minor.
Once I started writing, I felt immensely better about my decision to continue my existing project. Although I was excited to continue my work and saw clear benefits in doing so, I had been nervous about my ability to maintain the level of enthusiasm for my work I had displayed when I first launched Listen Loud, and I worried that writing each piece may take longer than I had anticipated, at least at first, due to the length of time that had passed since the last time I published. Fortunately, I quickly got back into the swing of things and published my first post on August 17th. In preparation for the Online Presence assignment, in addition to wanting to track my progress towards achieving my metric goals throughout the semester, I published a series of tweets twenty-four hours after the post had been published to report on its current performance. I repeated this for my second post that week on August 20th which, in its first twenty-four hours, became my highest performing organic post for Facebook. This was also accompanied by a similar tweet each Sunday night to report on the overall performance and growth of my platforms each week.
The following slideshow contains screenshots of my tweets from my first week of posting (Week 4) which identifies each post, discusses its initial performance, and highlights my overall progress towards my project goals. During this week, my followers increased on both platforms, however, the likes received on the majority of my posts across both Facebook and Instagram were below each platform’s respective average engagement for my page. I assume this is to do with the fact I had not posted in a while prior, and so my posts were probably appearing on fewer followers’ feeds. I’m also unsure why my second post performed exceptionally well, particularly as the featured band has fewer than seven thousand followers.
Surprisingly, the following week (Week 5) produced strikingly different results. While I again published two original pieces on August 23rd and August 26th, the user feedback I received was minimal across all platforms, gaining a single follower and 78.1% fewer content interactions on Instagram, with 66% fewer on Facebook. Reflecting on the results, I came up with several reasons as to why this may be occurring. Firstly, I realised the artists I featured in the first week had significantly smaller followings, each under 10k. Those featured in the second week had 55k and 204k. This disparity between followings could potentially result in oversaturated hashtags (e.g., #[bandname]), thereby reducing the visibility of my post. With smaller bands, there would be less content being shared, increasing the likelihood of my post appearing in the feeds of fans. As I mentioned in my tweet, the artists themselves are also much more likely to engage with my content, potentially resulting in my post being shown to their followers through the Explore tab or Facebook Newsfeed.
Secondly, as I have not yet determined the optimal day or times for engaging my audience, I haven’t stuck with a particular posting schedule beyond twice per week. As such, I may have been unintentionally sharing my second-week content at times that my users were not online, which may explain the reduced reach of my posts across both platforms. While it is still too early to identify any trends in my engagement levels, I’ll hopefully have sufficient data to analyse in the coming weeks to draw more concrete explanations for my current post performance.
As mentioned above, I’ve committed myself to posting twice per week across each of my platforms (excluding Stories). This is double what I had initially expected and proposed in my pitch, however, as my working situation changed as a result of the latest lockdown restrictions, I found myself with more time and attention (cATs) available to dedicate to my project than originally anticipated. This decision was also supported by a recent poll shared on Twitter in which the majority of respondents (68.4%) felt two-to-three posts per week was ideal. While I certainly feel this is appropriate and achievable, I am concerned about the content I will have to work with throughout the semester. As I rely on a number of public relations companies to share weekly press releases informing me of the latest music news and trends, I’m unable to share content without their contribution. This usually isn’t an issue as bands are coming out with new music daily, however, there have been days where I’ve received no emails at all, or press releases for bands that I don’t believe fit my particular niche. While this is unlikely to prevent me from posting for an entire week, it may mean I don’t have any content to share until the latter half, leaving my blog relatively untouched for up to a week at times. Due to the nature of my project, I also cannot save posts for a later date, as they quickly lose relevancy.
If this were to occur (and even if it doesn’t), I plan to increase my engagement with other accounts on each platform by liking, commenting and sharing their content. These accounts are primarily those belonging to bands/band members in my niche, or fans of the music style I specialise in who I believe will appreciate my content. My current goal is to spend at least thirty minutes per week on mutual engagement in hopes of generating more awareness around my brand, and ultimately growing the Listen Loud community through an increase in followers and greater engagement. As of today, my platforms sit at the following figures, with their respective increases since July 30th highlighted in green. Fortunately, these are all positive figures which indicate an increasingly positive response to my content.
Moving forward, I have set myself several goals. Firstly, as stated above, I hope to continue meeting my two-post requirement each week to demonstrate consistency in my posting. As I begin to identify the better days and times to post, this will hopefully become more regular also. Secondly, I hope to see my Facebook and Instagram accounts increase to 550 likes and 250 followers, respectively. This will directly contribute to my goal of growing the Listen Loud community, as stated in my recent pitch presentation. Thirdly, I hope to see a steady rise in overall engagement. While I do not have a particular figure I am aiming towards, this will ensure my growing community remains active and engaged. This will also confirm that the content I am sharing remains relevant to my users, contributing to my project’s successful social utility. Finally, I hope to identify more concrete trends in the form of user feedback which will allow me to continually develop new and improved iterations, ultimately increasing the value of my portfolio and contributing to my successful search for employment towards the end of the year.